FOR: SOUTHERN STEAKS
109 S. St. Asaph St., Alexandria
Walking into Columbia Firehouse conveys a bar mentality with lots of wood and mirrors. Of course, there’s a large bar, too. But up just a few steps and to the left, a room opens into high ceilings of red brick walls and hipster art.
This is a Neighborhood Restaurant Group place, so of course the beer roster features the finest of today (DC Brau’s Wings of Armageddon), but the cocktails swing historic (Sazerac). The food—which now includes a range of chops—honors the South, with a hot pimento cheese dip (a little runny, but nicely zippy). Fried chicken ($18) is juicy inside, but the crust lacks seasoning and the kale cooked collards-style (with bacon) turns the classic a bit trendy.
The tavern steak ($22), the least expensive cut, is a sirloin that our server swears “goes through a long tenderizing process.” She keeps the sell going: “We have cows that are set aside for just our restaurant.”
Like a steakhouse, sides are extra and the green beans in a mini casserole arrive still alive—snappy and snuggly in a mushroom cream sauce topped with thin rings of fried onions.
The steak’s texture is satisfyingly chewy, but tastewise, leans on the salty side. But that’s nothing a dip in a side of bernaise ($2) can’t remedy. -Stefanie Gans