Del Ray Café

For: Whole Roasted Fish

For: Whole Roasted Fish

205 E. Howell Ave., Alexandria; 703-717-9151;

After years perfecting his fancy French dining room at Alexandria’s Le Bergerie, Laurent Janowsky opened a more casual concept in a converted two-floor house in neighboring Del Ray. Mimicking its older sister, Del Ray Café leans toward France.

Like tortilla chips in a nachos spread, fans of mussels care more about the accompaniments than the base shellfish, and unfortunately, the standard meunière tastes more like boiled water than anything having to do with this classic preparation.

A roast fish pumps faith back into the menu. Dorado, served bone-in, head on, leaves the oven moist. Strips of cold fennel, served as its only side, focuses full attention on the fish.

Fish remained the high point, as dry roast chicken sporting soggy skin disappoints, as does overcooked rabbit with limp, truffled noodles. A bright spot: affordable carafes to sip on the screened-in patio.


(October 2012)