2941 Adapts to a New Era of Dining (Pictures)

The Falls Church special-occasion spot reopens Monday with a remodeled bar and dining room (so long, jellyfish chandelier) and a revamped menu.

Jose Alvarez’s modernist amoebae paintings decorate the new 2941 and its menus. Photographs by Jeff Martin.

So here’s the thing you hear again and again from restaurant-industry experts, eatery owners, and everyone else in the biz: Generally speaking, people are still eating out—a lot—but they want to do so in a more ad hoc and flexible way. Chef’s tables? Not so much. Small plates? Bring them on. At the same time, diners care more than ever about what they’re eating and where the food came from. The upshot: a larger market for mid-price to sorta-expensive places making carefully sourced food in a more affordable way.

These facts are not lost on 2941, the heretofore special-occasion spot in Falls Church. On Monday, January 30, the restaurant will reopen after a remodel of its dining room, kitchen, and bar. Gone are the much-commented-upon jellyfish chandelier and the chef’s table that opened up to the kitchen. The banquettes lining the interior dining room wall have been replaced by high-top tables that can accommodate larger parties. A new row of banquettes now bifurcates the high-ceilinged room, leading up to a half-moon-shaped booth that faces the fireplace and looks out onto the restaurant’s sylvan surroundings.

Trippy, lava-lamp-invoking paintings by artist Jose Alvarez now hang behind the host stand and on the opposite wall in the dining room. The paintings’ neon amoebae also form the frame and background for the rejiggered menu, which reflects the new emphasis on à la carte and somewhat casual. Its categories—Nosh, Next, Noodles, Need, and Naughty—stray far from French-American cuisine conventions, but chef Bertrand Chemel says the food will be familiar to regulars. “I don’t change my style,” he says. “It’s refined food served in an approachable way.” Chemel says he is able to maintain the quality of the cuisine at lower prices by eliminating expensive fine-dining accoutrements such as white tablecloths and French service.

Along with the economy and the changing demands of high-end diners, Chemel believes it is the restaurant’s location that triggers this need for approachability. “People in New York will eat anything; DC, the same. Here, it’s harder.” Thus the friendly new menu section names, as well as more-easygoing dish monikers: A salade Lyonnaise, for instance—poached egg, pancetta, frisée, mustard vinaigrette—is now called a “Composed Chicken Salad.” Chemel has incorporated a grill for steaks in the newly closed-off kitchen; among the entrées is the “Meat & Potatoes,” rib eye and Virginia cheese baked potato. Entrées range from $26 to $31; shareable “Noshes” cost between $4 and $9. All desserts are $8.

Check out the slideshow for a tour of the new 2941 and a selection of dishes on the new menu.

2941. 2941 Fairview Park Dr., Falls Church; 703-270-1500; Open for lunch Monday through Friday and dinner Monday through Saturday.