- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 16, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Alexandria, Virginia’s waterfront has benefited from a riverside restaurant renaissance, and one of the crown jewels in that rejuvenation is Blackwall Hitch, an oyster and seafood boutique on the docks that has gone one step further in the oyster game with the recent addition to its offerings of the Blackwall Beauty oyster.

Harvested from Assateague Island in the Chesapeake, the Blackwall Beauty is named in honor of the great horse traditions of Assateague Island and perhaps the most famous fictional steed of all time, Black Beauty.

Blackwall Hitch, now in its third year on the waterfront, is unveiling a new spring menu courtesy of Executive Chef Mente Lawson, who trained in France and has brought his substantial culinary excellence to this spot, where live entertainment is a weekend feature in this establishment with multiple indoor and outdoor seating areas.

A chatty and pleasant cooking expert, Chef Mente offers up a brief history on Blackwall and its new signature mollusk as we peruse the menu. Chef Mente brings out a platter of the Blackwall Beauties, served with little eyedroppers of mango and cucumber sauces to complement the traditional oyster garnishes of lemon and cocktail sauce. It’s a wondrous taste, clean and fulfilling, and the six that Victoria and I dine on disappear with smiles.

For our appetizers, we try the Blackwall shrimp, which are sauteed with white wine, creole butter and topped with fresh green scallions. It’s divine, as is the calamari that comes with a delicious remoulade.

For mains, I am advised by our highly knowledgable and friendly server Will Burns that the crab cakes are, without equivocation, the item to choose. As my front teeth barely make contact with the sea meat, I instantly understand why. Every bite is an adventure and a delight to the senses, made all the more so courtesy of an amazing corn salsa served on the side.

Victoria has the scallops risotto, which is also extremely well prepared, but I prefer my crab cakes. On the side we indulge in the house’s signature rosemary fries, which are absolutely perfectly cooked. I can imagine returning on a future evening and making an entire meal out of the fries alone — hopefully with a cocktail or two.

Chef Mente and Will delight in our ecstasy, but they entreat us to leave some room for dessert. (You know the old saw: There’s always room for sweets.) Being a chocoholic, I positively must get into the warm chocolate chip cookie sheet, served on a hot pan direct from the oven. Victoria picks the Smith Island Cake, known as the state dessert of Maryland. (Blackwall Hitch has locations in Annapolis and Rehobeth Beach, Delaware.) This too is a magnificent symphony of sugar, and together we do our best to polish off the ends of our desserts, but I still have leftovers for later.

We’re sad this meal, a “real” lunch at two hours in length, must close. But fear not, Chef Mente says, as on May 31, the establishment will be hosting a prosecco and oyster event called “A Bubbly Affair.” For a $40 entry fee, guests will be treated to oysters, prosecco and select small plates.

We’ll be back for that. Hell, we’ll be back here a lot. [ITAL]

Blackwall Hitch is located at 5 Cameron St., Alexandria, Virginia, 22314. Call 703/739-6090 for reservations or visit TheBlackWallHitch.com.

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