2008 begins with the opening of several new gastronomic establishments in Alexandria’s Old Town. From hotel restaurants, creperies and epicurean shops to the expansion of restaurants from near and not so near, King St. continues to draw and inspire foodies and entrepreneurs alike.
Hotel Monaco opened its’ doors for business last week. The former Holiday Inn Select (probably best known for its’ Doggy Happy Hour) has been under wraps for the better part of a year while a total inner and outer renovation was completed.
Inside the hotel, a posh and richly colored lobby is entered into with the assistance of uniformed doorman who stands guard underneath an art decco marquis-like over hang. To the left of Hotel Monaco’s main entrace on King Street is the exterior entrance for the hotel’s signature restaurant, Jackson 20. The glass lined kitchen will be led by executive chef Jeff Armstrong. Jackson 20- hewn and warmed with brick, stone and wood- bills itself as a contemporary Colonial style restaurant which will serve a menu reflecting local and seasonal cuisine, with a decidedly Southern touch. But don’t expect Colonial era clad waiters and period furnishings- Jackson 20 manages to marry clean modern lines with materials reclaimed from the past.
Chef Jeff Armstrong was raised in Maryland and became inspired to enter the restaurant business after working at a crab shack at age 15. He later attended Scottsdale Culinary Institute and has been successful in kitchens from Australia, to California and Texas. His menu at Jackson 20 nods decidedly to the South and to the Eastern Shore with appetizers such as Jumbo Lump Crabcake ($14), Sauteed Shrimp over buttermilk biscuits and tasso ham ($13) and Cornmeal Crusted Oysters with a spicy tomato remoulade and scallion relish ($11). Progressing to soups and salads, Jackson 20 lists among other tempting dishes, Shrimp and Crawfish Bisque ($9) and Shrimp Louie with chilled asparagus, frisse and spicy remaloude ($11). Entrees are priced from from $15 for 3 Cheese Baked Penne to $28 for Grilled Black Angus Ribeye. In between there is a range of meat and seafood dishes which includes Grilled Veal Meatloaf ($18), Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin ($24) and Wild Caught Rockfish ($24). Sides such as Cheddar Cheese Fries, Creamed Corn Gratin and Braised Collard Greens are modestly priced at $5 each.
A separate Tavern Bites menu should be popular among the after work crowd as it seems likely to whet the appetite with Crab Deviled Eggs ($6), Crispy Potato Pancakes topped with pulled pork ($4) and Shrimp Corn Dogs ($6).
The wine list features American wines with an emphasis on Virginia , along with a 20/20 program; 20 wines for under $20 per bottle.
Jackson 20 will be open for dinner January 30. Doggy Happy Hour, held each Tuesday and Thursday from 5pm-8pm, will resume in April and continue through October.
Stay tuned for further updates….
Jackson 20 Restaurant at the Hotel Monaco Alexandria
480 King St.
Alexandria, VA 22314