“I must be out of my mind,” laughs Cathal Armstrong, as he prepares to open a 120-seat restaurant inside the Hotel Indigo in less than two months’ time.
Armstrong, the award-winning chef and owner of Restaurant Eve, also runs a handful of Alexandria restaurants (and one speakeasy) and has two D.C. openings planned for The Wharf: Kaliwa, a Filipino-Thai-Korean restaurant, and Potomac Distilling Company, with longtime partner Todd Thrasher.
Though this current time frame is at an exaggerated pace, “we’d been negotiating with them for a while,” says Armstrong, even working with Carr Hospitality to help design the restaurant last year. But talks fell through in the fall. Recently, the hotel came back to Armstrong, who will act as a tenant of the Old Town waterfront hotel and signed papers yesterday. Indigo opens May 5, but the restaurant won’t be fully functional for a few more weeks.
The restaurant name, Hummingbird, is a nod to the many references of the bird in Virginia, says Armstrong, and is a balance of “pretty and feminine, but not too feminine.” He jokes that deciding on the name was probably the hardest part of planning the casual neighborhood restaurant. Located about a block from the Potomac River with seating on an outdoor patio or within the dining room’s glass walls, this restaurant could finally break the trope that there’s never good food with a view.
A raw bar, burger, crab cake and an Irish breakfast are the only items the Irish-born Armstrong knows will be on the menu thus far (he’s also looking for an executive chef), with entrees ranging from $18-$26. The focus is modern and regional food, with items changing by the seasons. His team is in charge of breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and room service. “We’ll need a club sandwich,” he says. This is a hotel, after all. // Hummingbird at Hotel Indigo: 220 S. Union St., Alexandria