827 Slaters Lane, Alexandria, VA
I've reviewed Rustico before - both the Alexandria and Ballston versions - but my meal Saturday night definitely warrants mention. Ready to dive into Rustico's killer beer selection, I spent a solid 10 minutes staring at the list. It's like I have to get reacquainted with it each and every time. I finally selected with a Bell's Batch 10,000 (Bell's Brewery), an malt-based American strong ale (9.2% ABV), which was tasty but hoppier than expected. I sampled my friend's Southern Tier Cuvee Series 3, another American strong ale (11.0% ABV), which had a much more intense malt flavor and was absolutely delicious. I actually considered drooling into the glass in order to keep it for myself. Bah.
Friends ordered the Caesar-style, house-made, thick-cut fries, which were tasty but nothing to write home about. For the main, I chose the Chipotle Pumpkin Soup and the Maple Balsamic Roasted Acorn Squash salad. Holy cow, this soup packed a slow chipotle heat that burned upward from my throat and warmed me from the inside out. The soup - a thick, luscious shade of orange that definitely cheated the line between solid and liquid - was accompanied by a hunk of country-style corn bread that was easily 3" thick, with a moist cornbread body and a caramelized top.
The Maple Balsamic Roasted Acorn Squash salad was arugula-based, which was a slight downer (I prefer Romaine) but it was absolutely delicious. It was packed with cashews. pomegranate seed and hunks of stilton, and topped with a slightly sweet vanilla vinaigrette. I need to find out how Rustico makes that vinaigrette - so very, very tasty. Overall, Rustico handed me another pleasant meal that satisfied on all counts.