911 King St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
CUISINE Modern American, Comfort Food, Sweets
PRICE $$ ($13-$20)
HOURS Open for lunch Monday through Saturday, dinner daily.
NVM AWARDS Best Restaurant 2008
Best Restaurant 2007
Best Restaurant 2009
Best Restaurant 2010
Best Restaurant 2011
Best Restaurant 2012
NEARBY METRO Blue Line(King Street) Yellow Line(King Street)
By Warren Rojas
Food: 8.3 Ambiance: 7.8 Service: 7.9
If reimagined comfort food in cozy surroundings is what you seek, your destination must be the impeccably charming Majestic.
EatGoodFood Group asset chef Shannon Overmiller is not one to shy away from flights of fancy here and there—improvised gnocchi carbonara, potato dumplings awash in heavy cream, nutty Parmesan and terse black pepper was a lovely surprise—but crafts most menu items with seasonality and simplicity in mind.
One Mid-Atlantic medley swirls together golden potatoes, shredded crab, whole clams and ivory fish in a stew emboldened by Old Bay and saffron.
Beefy homemade meatloaf arrives drenched in pan-fried gravy, its accompanying greens beans embellished by caramelized onions and crumbled bacon (a homestyle home run).
Cornmeal pound cake is a real peach of a dessert. The sandwich-style sweet features grilled cake surrounding crisp slices of stone fruit cushioned by mint-spiked vanilla cream.(November 2009)
By Warren Rojas
Food: 8.5 Ambiance: 7.8 Service: 7.9
Don’t be fooled by the folksy descriptions and commonplace ingredients sprinkled about the Majestic’s easily approachable menu.
This type of home cooking requires incredible skill.
Though she makes every meal seem effortless, Majestic toque Shannon Miller has carved out a niche for herself as one of my favorite maternal stand-ins. Staff play their part in every faux homecoming by keeping the dishes coming and fun-to-sip libations flowing (if only most family gatherings were this efficient and/or entertaining).
A seafood salad of shredded crab and plump shrimp poured into a meaty avocado and drizzled with champagne dressing was so tempting, it barely survived the trip around the table.
Heavenly chicken—brined so the meat spills forth juice and studded with salt crystals devilishly twinkling from within the folds of its deep-fried flesh—produced long periods of determined chewing (the crackling of the golden crust giving way to garbled sighs of satisfaction) followed by high praise for all things country picnic.
Mammoth slices of cobbler reveal big, syrupy-sweet peach quarters baked beneath a delightfully crumbly strudel soaked through in rich, bean-y vanilla ice cream.(November 2008)
By Warren Rojas
Food: 8.3 Ambiance: 7.6 Service: 7.4
On any given night, the Majestic’s mod dining room is packed with multi-generational families, relaxing boomers and, increasingly, youngish chowhounds—no doubt training their palates for meals to come at elder statesman, Restaurant Eve.
Executive chef Shannon Overmiller and her team adhere to the same strict standards as Eve, albeit in a much looser setting (think T-shirts and jeans, but fine-dining protocol).
The addition of “the royal pick” lunch special (any menu item and soda for $12, bar only) is a terrific loyalty-builder. And in a move I hope to see replicated everywhere, staff have abandoned the high-end hydration push, offering ice water as the first best option above bottled fare.
Fried green tomatoes streaked with goat cheese and nestled atop savory tomato jam and sweet corn relish signal the best of summer. The house chicken scores big with a roast breast (rife with butter, herbs and lemon) and comfit leg duo, but dry-ish potatoes disappoint. Caramelized key lime pie sports a lime-spiked center and cracker-y crust.(December 2007)
By Warren Rojas
Food: 7.9 Ambiance: 7.2 Service: 7
Once in danger of falling prey to a corporate takeover (the horror!), the clearly charmed and quite charming Majestic has come under the wing of Cathal Armstrong and Co.—an adoptive family that remains determined to restore this storied establishment to its former glory.
Snapshots of the restaurant through the ages dot a mustard-colored entranceway. Natural light pours into the basic but cozy main dining room through overhead skylights. The new owners installed chef Shannon “Red” Overmiller (a Restaurant Eve protégé) in the kitchen and gave Maria Chicas (Eve cocktail guru Todd Thrasher’s wife) free reign of the main dining room.
So far, so good.
The nostalgic menu reads like a gourmet picnic roster, emphasizing cleverly tweaked comfort foods. Overmiller also attempts to rewrite history every Sunday by preparing a let’s-all-gather-round-the-table-style meal (seasonal entree, homemade sides and dessert, all included) not seen since reruns of “The Donna Reed Show.”
Chicken salad hoists white meat chicken tossed with potatoes, celery and tarragon in herb mayo between buttery toast slices (better than most delis). Blue ribbon-worthy barbecued pork arrives dressed with caramelized onions and thick, country slaw (carrots and cabbage add crunch). Roast pork gets a hand from bacon-braised cabbage and apples sauteed with onions (a sweet-and-sour symphony). Deconstructed icebox cake scatters mint chocolate chip ice cream, plain vanilla and a pile of crumbled chocolate wafers into separate camps, then drizzles hot fudge throughout.