Mason Social – Modern American Cuisine
With all of the fabulous restaurants in Alexandria, your choices just got more difficult. Opened about two months ago, Mason Social is making a big hit in the newly revitalized Parker-Gray District of Alexandria. The menu is manageable, and very creative. The gray wood tones of the interior would indicate a conservative approach, but this place is pretty hip. Five specialty cocktails, six craft draught beers and another 12 available by bottle or can are available. Craft beers are great, but I still like a cold Budweiser…not! My dining partner disagrees, she isn’t a “real” beer drinker and Miller Lite (they do have that) isn’t on her beer palate either. She may have a point, maybe the addition of a Bud Light or a Coors Light may not be a bad idea.
Over the years this particular corner of Madison Street and North Henry Street has been many different establishments, with none ever lasting very long. The recent development of new businesses, apartments, condos and homes has brought this end of town alive (our friends at Bastille have recently opened up about 3 blocks away).
The restaurant is the brainchild of four Alexandrians who knew each other through high school. The dining room is slightly separated from the bar area which can be loud at times…a nice touch. The bar area is spacious with high tops for those who wish to order dinner or lunch in a more casual environment. This is the place to meet your friends.
We had stopped by for lunch after having dined there before. This menu is very creative. Unfortunately they were out of Spring Onion Soup…in their defense this was the day after Memorial Day weekend; so they should be out of something. I opted for the Marinated Shrimp, a delicious combination of shrimp, lime & agave, grapefruit, pickled onion, Serrano and Thai chili. Wow, what a delight. When it is 98 degrees this summer, this dish is going to be perfect for the weather. The grapefruit and pickled onion blended perfectly with the cold shrimp making for a refreshing and tangy treat. This dish is definitely a winner.
Next we tried the Grilled Asparagus, which was served on top of Norwegian Smoked Salmon, with chevre, spiced cashews and piquillo coulis. Once again, the combination of tastes were delicious and the slight charring of the asparagus always adds a new taste dimension.
Next I ordered the Mahi Tacos with Chipolte cream and shaved veggies. This is the first time I have ever ordered any kind of fish taco. I love fish and pretty much all seafood, but a taco and fish just didn’t quite register with me. The Mahi was cooked perfect and melded well with the shaved vegetables. The taste was very good, but I still could not wrap my head around the taco idea and finished the Mahi by itself. This was recommended by the Manager when we first sat down, so clearly it is a very popular dish.
We next ordered the Bacon wrapped Chicken Sandwich. Now who doesn’t like chicken and love bacon. The rest of the sandwich was complemented with celery hearts and red onion in house-made ranch dressing. Another melding of different flavors and textures that is a clear winner.
French fries are usually a good indication of how much a kitchen cares. For some, fries are just an after thought; here they are as much a part of the meal as the main staple. Guajillo pepper, smoked paprika and citrus cream, complements the generous cut potatoes. There were too many to eat so we brought them back and made for a great snack while watching the Nationals game.
The menu offerings are not huge, but do provide enough choices to make it worth returning. There are 4 Hold-me-Overs (appetizers) ranging in price from $7 to $14. There are 3 Gardens (salads) priced from $6 to $11. There are 6 offerings for Between Bread (sandwiches) ranging in price from $11 to $15.
The dinner menu has more offerings, however the prices are consistent with the lunch prices. In addition to the Between Bread there is an offering of 4 Mains including Roasted Half Chicken, Hanger Steak, Golden Tilefish and Local Scallop Gemelli. Main course prices range from $21 to $28.
As usual, we didn’t have room for dessert but the offerings sound delectable: Vanilla Poached Pear, Nutella Brownie, seasonal Sorbets & Gelatos and a Cheese Plate. Next time we will save some room.
Mason Social changes their menu from time to time. The changes are not pegged down to seasonal, but do rely on what are the best choices at any given time of the year. Manager Adriane Van Balen did inform us that there are new changes coming to the menu in the near future. Speaking of Adriane, she, like the rest of the staff are top professionals and very willing to help their customers. Everyone we met in the restaurant was friendly and helpful.
Mason Social appears to be a big hit! Check out more on the history, menus and other information on their website.
728 N. Henry Street
Written by: BobTagert