Photos By Jeff Martin, Words By Eleni Skoutakis
The ambiance of Old Town Alexandria’s Kimpton Hotel falls into line with what you would expect from a boutique hotel. It’s all in the details, people! The team behind the Kimpton and Ashlar are very aware of their location. Mixing the old and the new is a common theme throughout the interior of Ashar and in its menus. The lounge at the hotel’s entrance feels cool, calm, and collected but also a little artsy and quirky. The bright green walls in the hallway don’t seep into the inside of Ashlar, but the cool atmosphere is consistent throughout the space.
When you walk into the bar the first thing you’ll probably notice are the light fixtures. They’re made out of emptied decadents and will make you wish you weren’t crafty enough to be an interior designer. Then you’ll see the artwork on the wall behind the bar, which is a series of photographs with lines from the last sentence of The Great Gatsby. You’ll promptly consider snatching those for yourself.
Let’s talk about the drinks. Ashlar’s head bartender Maria Concepcion is lovely and really knows her stuff. The first drink we tried was the Rattle Skull. Fun fact: if you lived in colonial era America, a rattle skull is what you would’ve called your friend who gets chatty when they’re drunk. A colonial era drink, it’s made with rum, brandy, lime, rustic sugar, and porter and topped with nutmeg – which Maria says was a “hot commodity of the colonial times.” Maria took the original recipe and tweaked it just enough to make it suitable for, you know, people in the 21st century. The lime juice is the perfect touch.
Next up was the Sherry Cobbler. Made with novo fogo and infused with jalapeño to add a kick, this drink is the furthest thing from boring. Using the word ‘kick’ to describe a jalapeño infused cocktail seems kind of predictable but hey, we’re just being honest. If you’re in the mood for something flavorful and slightly adventurous, we recommend this.
The dining room is intimate and also, as expected, beautifully decorated. The light fixtures are made of open weaved wire and project a super cool pattern onto the ceiling that you can stare at in awe with your date if you’ve run out of things to talk about.
It’s time for the food. First was the pork shank. The best part about well-prepared pork shank is when the meat just melts off the bone. And the best part about Chef Bobby Surdam’s pork shank is that the meat just melted off the bone. It’s not the most adventurous dish, but it’s delicious nevertheless. Sometimes you don’t want to take chances with your food and that’s okay. Next was the foie gras french toast. This is the most decadent french toast I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. If you usually stray away from french toast because it feels like you’re just eating dessert, then order this if you ever go to Ashlar.
Ashlar opened Wednesday, April 20 and is located at 116 South Alfred Street Alexandria, VA in the Kimpton Hotel. Breakfast is served from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and dinner from 5 p.m. – 10 p.m. on weekdays. On Friday through Saturday, dinner is served from 5 p.m. – 11 p.m.