Starters: Hummingbird in Alexandria

First impressions in NoVA dining: An Irishman with a fine-dining flagship restaurant opens his next project in a hotel.

hummingbird grilled cheese
Photo by Rey Lopez

Eat Good Food Group hosts, and has hosted, a range of restaurants, from the high-end Restaurant Eve to the fish-and-chips shop Eamonn’s to the speakeasy PX to the retail shop and wine bar Society Fair. Along the way the group—led by chef Cathal Armstrong, his wife, Michelle, and drink master and partner Todd Thrasher—sold Majestic and Virtue.

Continuing to build in Old Town Alexandria, Armstrong took up residence in the new Hotel Indigo. Overlooking the water, Hummingbird is bathed in plenty of natural light, whites and grays and blues, a studied look into the minimalist aesthetic. The large patio is primed for when the Potomac eventually is revitalized.

Photo by Rey Lopez

The food reads clearly in the hotel realm: basics, some hints at modernity, a little local flair, but mostly tiresome. A crabcake, though full of the crustacean, is so underseasoned and bland the layer of remoulade underneath can’t save it. Though the maybe 6 inches of crustless ham-and-cheese is good for what it is—a buttery, grilled sandwich—it leaves the question, why is this even on the menu? Entrees fare better: A grilled whole fish is honored with simplicity and kicked up with darling glass bottles of four different sauces: spicy, herby, Asian-inspired and creamy. The burger, a dining room staple if there is one, is a thick, sturdy patty stacked with crispy bacon, zippy aioli and cheddar on a cushy bun. The fries are crisp, excellent and plentiful.

But for Hummingbird to attract more than hotel guests and tourists, it must bring charm into these dishes of fleeting importance.

Notes:

Hummingbird
220 S. Union St., Alexandria;
Open for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner daily
Appetizers: $9-$22; Entrees: $15-$28

(October 2017)

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