The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

Elaine’s Restaurant Review: An Experience to Remember

A review of a new restaurant in Old Town called Elaine’s.

Elaine’s Restaurant, which is tucked just two blocks from King Street and one block from the Waterfront, features delicious Mediterranean cuisine surrounded by a clean, calm, and casual atmosphere. 

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Elaine’s Restaurant, street view

Opened in March of this year, Elaine’s is a small business; this one in Old Town is its only location. 

The restaurant is named after the owner, Cynthia Higgins’, grandmother. According to Higgins, when she was a child in Cairo, Egypt, she spent a lot of time cooking with her grandmother. Higgins promised her grandmother she would one day open up a restaurant in her name.

“While it took me thirty years to accomplish that goal,” Higgins said, the restaurant reflects “[my grandmother’s] love of service and love of food and benevolence to the hospitality industry that she wanted to be part of,” said Higgins.

When the hustle and bustle of the main strip become overwhelming, Elaine’s offers a quieter spot to eat that is still within walking distance to the shops on King Street, the beautiful views of the waterfront, and the art exhibitions of the Torpedo Factory. 

Housed in the former site of the quirky, iconic restaurant, Bilbo Baggins, which closed in 2020 when the owners retired, Elaine’s plays homage to its predecessors by creating a welcoming environment for locals and tourists alike.

Elaine’s menu includes modern meals uniquely presented. Unlike the classic American-Mediterranean meals typically served, like Gyros, Greek salad, and Spanakopita, Elaine’s introduces its customers to new flavors such as Seared Halloumi, Ful Medames, and Koshari. 

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Falafel appetizer

Elaine’s takes full advantage of the many vegetables and assortment of legumes the Mediterranean diet offers. The ingredients used for the meals are locally sourced and made completely from scratch. 

In particular, Baba Ganoush and grilled Branzino dishes were fan favorites. The owner personally recommends the whole Branzino, a grilled fish stuffed with vegetables and topped with a warm, parsley, and cilantro-infused sauce. According to the owner, this dish is typically found only on the shores of Egypt. 

“Eating the dish was like a flashback to my childhood living there,” one customer said.

Though it is on the more expensive end, customers can enjoy everything the restaurant offers with prices as low as $12 for appetizers, $11 for vegetable soup, and sandwiches for $18-$22. However, most meals hover around $31, which does make a dent in one’s pocket.

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The dining area features a bookshelf with local authors

The vibe is upscale without seeming fussy or overdone; it is also casually elegant, thanks to a light and nearly all-white decor. In contrast, the bar area has a classy lounge atmosphere, with dark walls, black furniture, and hints of gold and velvet.

Additionally, Elaine’s has three private dining spaces upstairs, including one where you can enjoy both an appetizer and a book. The book room exists because the husband of the owner is a thriller writer. The space includes a shelf that displays books only from local authors because the restaurant hopes to highlight the works of the rest of the writing industry.

The ambiance creates the perfect setting for a date night or graduation or a pre-homecoming dinner. 

Open-air dining area, elegant-casual atmosphere

Generally, service was efficient and attentive, and the workers expressed kindness, which created a welcoming atmosphere. For a newly started restaurant, they are doing very well so far. If you are interested in forming an opinion about the restaurant yourself, consider checking it out at 208 Queen St, Alexandria, VA.

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Elaine’s Restaurant Review: An Experience to Remember