This story appeared first in our weekly Food newsletter. Sign up here.
When Augie’s opens this week there will be plans for its closure. There will also be renderings of its future on the wall.
Augie’s Mussel House on the Patio, opening today on King Street in Alexandria, will start life as a four-month pop-up. By the end of the year it will close and will reopen in early 2019. During this renovation—which includes adding an indoor-outdoor bar—the same team hopes to open Urbano 116, a Mexican restaurant near the waterfront.
Common Plate Hospitality (owners of Mason Social, which opened a few years ago about a half-mile from King Street) is run by childhood friends Chad Sparrow, his brother Justin Sparrow and Larry Walston.
For the group’s next venture another elementary school classmate joins: Eric Reid. Reid most recently ran Reserve, the small-plates, modern-American restaurant above Del Ray Pizzeria, and DRP. In what Reid calls a “proud dad moment,” his sous chef Christian Ochoa is now Reserve’s chef.
Reid will turn out classic mussel preparations, like mussel Provencal, as well as his own concoctions. The house style combines bacon (house cured and smoked) with butter and beer. There’s also a Buffalo-style version with Crystal hot sauce, blue cheese, panko bread crumbs and celery ribbons and a Thai green curry with coconut shreds.
Mussels come with baguettes, baked in-house, but not fries. The fries are $6, hand-cut and, says Reid, the thickness of a Wendy’s fry.
The menu includes more than the bivalve though: planned appetizers are grilled watermelon salad, a chilled seafood salad, a white asparagus soup and steak tartare. The entree lineup features a return of Reid’s Nashville hot chicken from Reserve, but this time served as a sandwich inside of a waffle bun, plus a burger, short-smoked salmon and a Peruvian-style roast chicken with fried yucca and the requisite green and yellow sauces. A meatless entree is the summery smoked-stone fruit with lentils and haricot verts.
Named after the patron saint of beer, St. Augustine, Augie’s will start small: six taps, 30 cans and bottles and a mix of local breweries and Belgian stalwarts. After the re-grand opening, Reid wants 24 taps. You’ve got to live up to sainthood. //Augie’s Mussel House on the Patio: 1106 King St., Alexandria