A palm-sized croissant that oozes high-quality butter with each crispy bite. A dollhouse-sized plate of Parisian gnocchi in a truffled sauce. Fish sliced almost windowpane-thin, dressed in rounds of quince. These are just some of the “Welcome Snacks from the Kitchen” at Alias in Warrenton.
On paper, the $165 prix fixe menu includes five courses, but that doesn’t count any of the aforementioned bites, nor the mound of sourdough Parker House rolls with house-aged butter that you find yourself picking at well into the meal, while watching the open kitchen buzz.
The greatest hits from a recent service are hard to pick. Atlantic halibut is served à la Grenobloise in a lemon-spiked butter sauce with a single piece of charred Broccolini over a Broccolini pesto that explodes with flavor. A marinated foie gras torchon is presented like a savory ice cream sundae with Poire Williams sorbet and a butterfly-shaped black pepper tuile. Duck breast is dry-aged in-house after coming in from nearby Whiffletree Farm, then served with toasted hazelnuts, pomegranate jus, and fresh arils.
Sensing a theme? Nearly every ingredient comes from in or near Fauquier County, and chef Stephen Burke admits that in winter, sourcing can be a challenge. His success at the task is just part of the magic of the speakeasy-style restaurant that he shares with wife Kelly and business partner Sharon Briskman.
Relationship experts say to never work with your spouse. But for seven years, the Burkes have been doing just that. The pair met through friends when they both worked at a California location of Outback Steakhouse. But the couple weren’t fated to languish in chain restaurant land. Positions at The Inn at Little Washington brought them to Virginia.
Making it a point to always work at the same restaurant, the Burkes plied their French-inflected locavore cuisine and accommodating service at big names like Three Blacksmiths and L’Auberge Provençale. One fan followed them to each: Briskman. The Burkes, both still in their 20s, credit her investment in them with making Alias a reality. And other diners who want “a menu written by the ingredients,” as Stephen Burke puts it, will be equally captivated.
7150 Farm Station Rd., Warrenton
Feature image of chef Stephen Burke by Michael Butcher