Just a few steps off of King Street in Old Town Alexandria sits a lovely quaint hotel called Morrison House. It's a throwback to the older days with a parlor, library, and a piano bar. Morrison House is not your typical modern Kimpton Hotel, instead it draws from the more traditional style given its Virginia location, and the hotel itself feels as if it was built in the early 1900's because of the grandeur-- I was shocked to hear it was actually built in 1985. Stepping inside the Morrison House makes you feel like you've gone back in time and entered a turn of the century inn with a friendly and welcoming staff and a bar that makes you want to sit for days.
It was a very rainy night when I was invited to join the Kimpton group for a media dinner at The Grille. The weather was perfect for the occasion as the restaurant has a dark wood bar, deep upholstered brown leather chairs, and offers a menu of comforting and hearty dishes that work well on a cold night. They started us off with warm rolls from the kitchen that had almost a crossaint-like quality to them. They were soft and buttery and I couldn't help but eat two. I settled on the salmon tartare as my appetizer which was served as three separate pieces on the plate: tartare topped with caviar, a dollop of creme fraiche in the center, and a small stack of blini pancakes anchoring the other end of the rectangular dish. I assembled each bite by spreading the creme fraiche on a pancake and scooping a bit of the tartare on top, however there is clearly no wrong way to eat this. Assemble at your heart's content.
I could not resist ordering the beef bourginon for my main course. It's a favorite of mine and something that I am frankly afraid to make for myself at home. It hit all the right notes for me-- the meat was tender and pulled apart without the need for a knife, the potatoes, cipollini onions, and carrots were crispy and tasted wonderful smothered in the red wine glaze sitting on the bottom of the bowl. I would order this dish again in a heartbeat.
Our group decided to order a bunch of desserts to share for the table and we went for the dark chocolate molten lava cake, the apricot pudding cake and the strawberry and rhubarb dish with lemon balm ice cream. The chocolate cake was gooey and delicious as expected but we found the apricot cake to be the sleeper hit in this mix-- it was surprisingly my favorite bite because the cake was so moist and the flavors were subtle yet sweet as a result of the balsamic reduction.
The Grille at Morrison House surprised me. I didn't even know it existed or that it was just a few short steps from the main drag in Old Town. Chef Brian McPherson does the restaurant proud by bringing classic dishes to life in a traditional and stately atmosphere. The Grille at Morrison House is a perfect spot for a celebration or a special occasion. Add it to the list for the next time you are out in Virginia and I hope you'll feel transported to a different time the way that I did.
The Grille at Morrison House
116 South Alfred Street
Alexandria, VA 22314