BRABO and BRABO Tasting Room: Belgian Bounty for the (Barely) ‘Burbs

Written by Anita
March 30, 2009

Photo Credits: Len DePas

Yes, Old Town Alexandria isn’t exactly the ‘burbs, but—to hear some DC dwellers tell it—you’d think it is. Now Robert Wiedmaier, the culinary force behind DC-favorites Marcel’s and Brasserie Beck, has opened BRABO and BRABO Tasting Room—two spots definitely worth “crossing the river” to check out. Looking for a drink and a nosh? Then try BRABO Tasting Room, a cozy space made even more so by the brick wood-burning oven nestled in the corner. The oven helps cook up several varieties of delicious wood-fired tarts (think gourmet rustic flatbread pizza). Our favorite was piled with smoked duck confit, creamy Gorgonzola, walnuts, and peppery upland cress. Other stellar nibbles include “Napa”Tizers (an assortment of roasted peppers, artichoke hearts, olives, salami, duck rillette, cheeses, caper berries, pâté, baked flatbreads, and hummus) and the charcuterie plate (a hearty helping of cured and smoked meats, pâté, and French bread). Finally, no chef Wiedmaier spot would be complete without his signature mussels, served with those addictive Belgian frites and a trio of rich mayonnaises. Open for lunch and dinner from 11:30am to 1:00am daily, this place is sure to be a hit with the late-night crowd. In the mood for something more upscale? Then head to BRABO next door. The dining room, dressed in rich browns and bathed in candlelight, is spacious and elegant without feeling stuffy. (Top NYC designer Vicente Wolf designed both spaces.) Here, the emphasis is on classic Belgian cuisine with an American sensibility. One can’t-miss appetizer is the butter poached gulf shrimp, served over creamy white polenta and spinach and drenched with sauce Cardinale—a sweet sauce typically flavored with fish stock, lobster butter, and truffle essence. The bistro fillet topped with a roasted shallot Cabernet sauce is juicy, moist, and tender; the jumbo asparagus with Maltaise sauce (a citrus-y butter sauce) complements any meal perfectly. Chef Wiedmaier is an expert saucier and it shows—practically anything with a sauce is worth sampling. Think you've left no room for dessert? Then try the airy trio of pots de crème (chocolate, hazelnut, and mango) or the smooth lemon tart—a lemon chibouste laced with raspberry curd and served with a dense cilantro gelée. BRABO and BRABO Tasting Room—giving you two great reasons to smile all the way back to DC!

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