106 South Union St., Alexandria
Restaurant power couple Cathal and Meshelle Armstrong have done it again. The creators of Restaurant Eve, PX, The Majestic and Eamonn's Dublin Chipper launched their fifth venture - Virtue Feed & Grain - last month. Although I snagged a coveted invite to the opening party, I was unfortunately unable to attend. But finally, finally I made my way over to VF&G Sunday evening.
The first thing you notice about VF&G is the decor. Located in an old mercantile barn, the restaurant is loaded with rustic fixtures - reclaimed wood tables, iron horse heads, cable and steel stairway railings, a brilliant custom mural that brightens up the stairs leading to the second floor. The pillows - scattered on couches discreetly tucked away - are stitched from burlap sacks.
|Absolutely killer decor!|
VF&G's menu stands up to the fantastically eclectic interior. Positioned as an upscale Irish pub, the restaurant serves up classic mains such as Shepard's Pie, Lamb Shank, and Roast Pork Shoulder. If you're looking for a lighter dish, check out the "Soup and Sambos" selection ... and be sure to start the meal with "The Weird Stuff," be it kidneys, crubeens or bone marrow. Be adventurous!
Another big draw at VF&G are the "Hoptails," cocktails made with beer. While the ingredients may seem like everything-but-the-kitchen-sink, the taste is all there. Try the one made with a Guinness reduction. You'll thank me.
|My hoptail. Not exactly sure what was in it, but there was tequila!|
For mains, I ordered the Roast Pork Shoulder with Carrots, while the hubs had the Braised Beef Short Ribs with Root Vegetables. The pork, simply roasted, was pretty fantastic. Some parts were a little dry, but 80% of the pork was tender, and the crust of roasted pork fat made me want to whimper with happiness. I somehow managed to clean my plate, and I am actually scared of how much pig I consumed. I mean, it was a serious hunk of meat. But while the pork was good, the beef ribs completely dominated the table. They were amazing, so tender that the beef fell off the bone, and accompanied with a rich, meaty sauce that was more like gravy.
The dishes were a good size - they definitely feed you well at VF&G. I also appreciated how simply the meals were prepared - carefully roasted pork, braised beef. The ingredients were high quality, and much care had been put into letting them stand on their own without too much assistance.
When we realized we could each jam in a few more bites, we all went for dessert. One order of the Bread Pudding later, and I was slowly slipping in a food coma. The bread pudding was rich and simple, dotted with raisins and drizzled with the traditional butter/egg/vanilla sauce. I loved that the dessert was true to form, without ice cream or caramelized doo-dahs or whatnots.
Overall, VF&G was a success. The food is simple, but delicious. When you don't feel like home-braising short ribs or roasting a pig, I recommend coming here. If you're looking for exciting new presentation and flavors, then perhaps VF&G isn't quite the place ... but if you're looking for well-prepared food, interesting apps and a cocktail involving beer, then try it out. You won't be disappointed.