One of my oldest childhood friends was recently in town for a conference. After not seeing her for some time, naturally, I was ecstatic. “Let’s go out to dinner,” she said. “Uh oh,” I thought.
This immediate reaction didn’t have anything to do with Cait personally, but her eating habits. As a five-year-old, I remember her diet was completely made up of chicken nuggets, pizza, and plain pasta. I admit I was abnormal as a young eater; I liked all veggies, seafood, and was willing to try just about anything, but Cait was especially difficult. Meal time at my house was always an interesting affair — even dessert. She wouldn’t even eat frosting.
Between our American Girl doll-play past and the present, I honestly wasn’t sure if her palate had developed much. Finding a restaurant to suit her could pose a challenge.
Thankfully, as we perused King Street in Old Town Alexandria, it became apparent that she was very much up for any kind of food: Indian, Thai, Greek, Pizza. I relaxed. We decided to “go big” and celebrate her first time in D.C. by spending the evening in one of the swankier places on King Street: Vermillion.
Vermillion is one of those restaurants that is good for many things: a celebratory dinner, the place to “pop the question,” a girls-night-out venue, or, if you’re POTUS, where you go for dinner on Valentine’s Day. Yes, it’s one of those places—but we all need to have a classy joint in our restaurant repertoire—and Vermillion is mine.
This gem is nestled between immaculate row houses on the corner of King Street and North Fayette Street. Don’t be fooled by Vermillion’s old-world exterior, the inside is surprisingly modern — a mix of modern design and historic detail. The first floor features a plush bar, but the upstairs is the place to be. Not only can you look out on the bustling street, but the large windows let in the sunlight, brightening the dark, wood floors and ruby-colored walls. The ambiance is warm, sleek—it feels European.
The wait staff is very professional and most are well-read wine connoisseurs. They can recommend the perfect bottle as well as a cocktail. They are also quite helpful when it comes to picking out an item for a meal — they will make your mouth water explaining the process that goes into making some of these dishes. No need to sell me on ordering an entrée!
Cait and I both started with a cocktail: for her, a Moscow Mule, and for me, a King Street Lemonade. Both were extremely tasty—albeit a little expensive. Oh well, you only live once!
For the main course, I went with Skuna Bay salmon on a bed of spinach with homemade yogurt sauce. The presentation was amazing—Vermillion is definitely into plating. However, that being said, I must clarify that their presentation isn’t crazily stacked food that is impossible to eat. The plating is gorgeous—but diner-friendly.
Cait ordered Gnocchi with roasted potatoes, squash, and lemon verbena. Like mine, her plating was also photograph worthy — hence the picture above. As she enjoyed her dish, all I could think of was, “Sayonara, chicken nuggets!”
Yes, our bill was quite large for a two-woman meal, but it was completely worth it. We lounged around for quite some time after we paid –enjoying the vibe on King Street.
In a message on Facebook, posted a few days later, Cait described D.C. as a “foodie paradise.” She’s got that right — and I give Vermillion the credit for giving her first “taste” of D.C.
Where is it?
1120 King Street,
Alexandria, VA 22314
Who should go?
Foodies, couples, or groups of friends looking for a delicious meal at a great location. The waterfront and King Street’s numerous stores surround Vermillion. Dinner and shopping sounds good…!