Chadwicks – An American Classic
By the Gastronomes
Chadwicks – An American Classic
I came to Old Town in 1977. The town was a lot different then. Old Town was only 7 blocks long running from Union Street to a few blocks the other side of Washington Street. The waterfront was cluttered with old warehouses that were critical to Alexandria’s early seaport history. One of these warehouses on The Strand was taken over by the chaps who owned Chadwicks Restaurant in Georgetown. They wanted to bring their successful concept to the “new” emerging business district of Old Town Alexandria.
As I remember, the Chadwicks in Georgetown had the bar on the right as you entered and stairs leading to the second floor. When they did the buildout of the Old Town store they copied that same floor plan except the stairway in Old Town became the center piece and dominating feature as you entered. The extensive build out took some time but Chadwicks Old Town finally opened in January of 1979 and it snowed on opening day.
A friend and Rugby teammate of mine and I decided it was wise to take a sled as transportation down to Chadwicks opening. As I said, Old Town wasn’t very big in those days, and we weren’t very smart at times. The place was packed and quickly became a favorite watering hole and dining spot for regulars. That remains the same today.
The first meal I had back in 1979 was brunch on the second floor so I could walk up that staircase. When we decided to write about Chadwicks we decided to return for brunch 42 years later.
We arrived at 1:45 thinking that the brunch crowd would have thinned out. We were wrong. We joined long time bartender Karen at the bar for a mimosa and Bloody Mary while we waited for a table, which took about 30 minutes.
Once again we were seated on the second floor. A couple of the four tops were empty, however there were two large groups (one a table of eight and the other a table of 10) of people each enjoying family, friends and brunch. The four tops filled up as we dined and it didn’t appear to be slowing down upon our departure. The interior photos accompanying this write up were taken mid-afternoon on a Tuesday since we wanted to show what the restaurant actually looks like. Was way too crowded for interior shots on Sunday.
My first brunch at Chadwicks was Eggs Benedict and I wanted to try that again. Unfortunately, one of the tables of eight had all ordered Eggs Benedict and they were out of Canadian bacon. Another mimosa soothed my disappointment as now I had to come out of my comfort level and try something new.
As I am a grits lover, I ordered the Shrimp and Grits. It was incredible! The meal was presented in what appeared to be a cast iron pan but turns out to be a thick – plastic of some sort – pan that held the heat very well. The presentation was great. The grits were creamy and smooth with a bit of cheese added. The presentation also had diced tomatoes, crispy bacon chunks and capers. I love capers and they complimented the dish very well. The shrimp were perfectly cooked and a nice touch was that the tails had been removed. Swimming in melted butter, this dish is one of the best I have ever had. The next time I may not be so disappointed when they run out of Eggs Benedict, but I plan to go back, only earlier.
My dining partner, who is also a big fan of Eggs Benedict, was in the mood for something on the sweet side this time so opted for the French Toast and a side of fresh fruit. The entrée comes with your choice of bacon or sausage and is served with some very tasty cinnamon butter and maple syrup. The cinnamon butter really makes this dish stand out.
Chadwicks has a large selection for brunch including starters, soup & salads, burgers, sandwiches and entrees. The restaurant offers 12 items for brunch entrees including Three Egg Omelette, Huevos Rancheros, Buttermilk Pancakes, Chicken Francois and Eggs Chesapeake. They even have a burger called the “Flappy Jack”. You really need to check that out. The brunch prices range from $11 to $19 for the Shrimp and Grits and $21 for the Eggs Chesapeake.
Clearly, on this particular Sunday they were packed. In a conversation with owner Trae Lamond, we learned it was indeed their best Sunday Brunch in a while. He also told us of the addition of a new balcony that will help increase their capacity as well as more seating in the alley. Construction on the balcony will soon begin with a completion date of early September. The view over the Big Wheel Bike shop will take in the Potomac River, Waterfront Park and the rest of the new park at the foot of King Street.
Chadwicks has always been a gathering spot for locals as it was kind of hidden on The Strand. As more and more improvements were made on the waterfront, this eatery is now the restaurant that sits in the middle of it all. Treat yourself to some good neighborhood Sunday fun with the family or gather some pals together and belly up to the bar for the Mimosa’s and Bloody Mary’s!
203 The Strand
Old Town Alexandria