Saturday, May 06, 2006

Indigo Landing, Alexandria, Virginia

Indigo Landing
1 Marina Drive

Phone: (703) 548-0001

Hours of Operation:
Monday - Thursday: 11:30AM - 10:00PM, Bar Menu until 11:00PM
Friday - Saturday: 11:30AM - 11:00PM, Bar Menu until 12:00AM
Sunday: Brunch 10:00AM - 3:00PM, Dinner 4:00PM - 9:00PM, Bar Menu until 10:00PM

For a map, click here.

Here is a reliable rule when choosing a restaurant. Buy a view or buy good food. Nobody offers both! There are countless restaurants with spectacular views of water and poor food served by surly staff. Now, if you would like to prove me wrong on this point, do exactly what Mr. and Mrs. P did tonight. Take me to Indigo Landing in Alexandria, Virginia. Actually, I still maintain that it is pretty useful rule, but, there are some exceptions. Indigo Landing really breaks the rule. It gave us more pleasure than we have had for a long time!

This new restaurant is on Daingerfield island just south of National Airport (DCA). It is on Daingerfield Island, which is a lovely park with spectacular views of Washington, and, if you like seeing planes coming and going, the setting is perfect. When we arrived, it was still light, and the sun set during dinner.

For readers, who want the view, but not the restaurant, the park is a terrific place to just watch the world go by. And there is also a fast food restaurant that sells food to people who do not want a "fancy dinner." (This would be a perfect restaurant for visitors to Washington, particularly people with a plane to catch since the airport is only about a mile away.)

The "fancy dinner," though, really is a very special experience. The cooking is modern "southern Low Country" with an emphasis on seafood. Although I was tempted by the confit of duck with foie gras and the hangar steak, I felt that I would best sample this restaurant's cooking if I stuck to seafood. Any prejudice that southern cooking is crude and unsubtle should be left at the door!

Our first course was a "tower" of seafood ($65.00), which looked so precarious when it arrived, we suggested that "Seafood Pisa" might be a suitable name for it. It was quite extraordinary. Although $65.00 sounds a lot for an appetizer, the tower left our party of four people wondering whether we would have any room for our main courses. It consists of chilled seafood on plates of ice. It includes crab claws, enormous shrimps, mussels, crab meat wrapped in smoked salmon and lettuce, lobster tails, clams, and oysters on the half shell. The oysters were absolutely perfect, and the three non-oyster eaters in our part all pronounced that they were perfect.

Then we had a baby Boston lettuces with a great dressing, mandarin oranges, and roasted pecan nuts. One of our party ordered the she-crab soup with sherry. It comes with a little roll of crab meat that you are supposed to swirl in the soup. The person in our party, who ordered it, thought it was just a little too rich, but I suspect a little bit of food fatigue after the dazzling seafood tower. I tasted it and it was perfect to my taste!

Then we had the main courses. I had a Fried Skate. The breadcumbs were light, and it was not at all greasy. Two of the others in the party had Grouper, and one of us had Rock Fish, which I tried (and liked very much). All the main courses were in the $21 to $25 range.

After the main course, we all had had more than enough to eat, but that did not stop two of us ordering the marvelous Raspberry Fool ($7.00). I had a Pecan Tart with Bourbon and Vanilla ice cream ($7.00). Indigo Landing also managed to produce a cup of coffee that conforms to my exacting standards! (For a diatribe on that issue, click here.)

Finally, the wine! There was an excellent wine list with a number of interesting and tempting offerings at very fair prices. They even offer Chateau Musar ($85), the unusual and wonderful wine from Lebanon! As our first wine, we had an excellent Chenin Blanc/Viognier blend from Pine Ridge ($29). This wine has very interesting tropical fruit tastes and was served cool but not too cold. Our second wine was an Alamos Viognier from Argentina, which was also very good indeed.

The service was nothing short of outstanding. Everyone was kind, attentive, and knowledgeable. And they knew how to avoid getting in the way. A friendly touch was to change the napkins as soon as we sat down to match our clothes.

This restaurant is highly recommended, and I will certainly return. Next time, I will bring my camera and notebook to provide a more detailed report.

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