100 King - Tapas in Old Town Alexandria
100 King – a tapas restaurant in Old Town Alexandria
100 King St
Alexandria, VA 22314
For years this building in Old Town Alexandria sat empty. It was a Mexican restaurant when we first moved here in 1998 but it closed abruptly a couple of years later. Now it’s reborn as 100 King, a trendy new tapas bar. It’s owned by the same family that owns the Lebanese Taverna restaurants here in the DC area. So our interest was piqued by this new venture since we both like Lebanese Taverna.
With nothing thawed out for dinner last night, we decided to go out. After trying to find a place we both wanted to go to, Biscuit Boy mentioned 100 King. Ah, that would be fun. So off we went to Old Town. And as my readers in the area know, half your drive time can be spent trying to find a parking space.
After driving around several blocks we just went up to the city’s parking garage located under the Town Square. It’s only $2.00 after 5 p.m. which is way less than any of the privately run garages charge. It was a nice night so the walk would be pleasant.
And before we knew it, we were standing in front of 100 King. That’s when my apprehension set it. After a quick glance at the menu, I thought that the prices were a bit higher than the other tapas restaurants we’ve tired (Jaleo, Zaytinya and Oyamel). But we wanted to give it a try so we walked in.
Atmosphere: Loud. As soon as you walk into the lobby in which you’re bathed in an array of colors from blue to green to red, you hear it, the thump, thump, thump of club music. You ask yourself, “Is this a restaurant or a night club?” And it only gets louder as you walk into the restaurant. Between the thumping club music and everyone talking it was very, very loud. The wood floors, bare walls and partially high ceilings didn’t help.
First impression: First impression upon walking in was that I felt very much out of place. The host looked us up and down as we walked in and asked for our reservation. When we said we didn’t have one, he thrust out his arm and with his hand waved us away from the front door around the corner where people were hanging their coats. How’s that for welcoming. The hostess walked by a couple of times and the look I got from her was weird. I couldn’t tell if she was wondering why we bothered to come in or if she was thinking ‘great the un-hip have arrived.’ In general it was a look that made me feel like I had dog poo on my shoe.
I also felt VERY under dressed. I was wearing what I had worn to work that day, Khaki pants, a white shirt and a nice button up sweater. While all the staff was chicly dressed in all black or white shirts and black pants. Many of the customers in the bar area were dressed in dark suits (men and women) or other very business-like attire. I wondered for a moment if we hadn’t walked in on some private corporate party.
Service: The wait staff was very good. They were friendly and not overbearing. They did mix up our wine order which we didn’t realize until we got check. When the waiter asked Biscuit Boy if he wanted a second glass of wine, he brought out a glass of what I had ordered. The thing was that both our wines tasted very similar and he wondered if it was the right wine but didn’t want to make a fuss over it. His thoughts were confirmed when we got the check.
Which brings me to my next point, ordering wine at 100 King. The new trend seems to be half glasses of wine. This is new to me and for anyone else who is unaware of this trend it can be expensive. Your wine choices at 100 King are a three ounce glass (half glass), or a 6 ounce glass (Full glass) as well as offerings of half bottles and full bottles. When you order a glass of wine, the staff will assume a full glass and in a loud, dimly lit restaurant with a menu written on fairly small print, it’s easy to not realize the price right next to the wine description is for the half glass. You have to look further to the right for the full glass price. One wine I chose had $4.25 right next to it. And if you’re not paying attention you wouldn’t notice the price for a full glass further along to the right is $8.00. That can be add up to an expensive mistake.
Food: We ordered a total of five dishes.
TURKISH GREEN ZUCCHINI CAKE – three little cakes, each about 2” in diameter. Between a crust that tasted almost like potato were julienned green zucchini. The taste was fresh, and simple. A dab of the yogurt sauce served on the side add a little tang which was nice. On a scale of 1-5 biscuits: I give it 3½ biscuits.
GOAT CHEESE PIZZA – thick slabs of goat cheese on top of a pita, a few very thin grape tomato slices, a half dozen slivers of black olive, a shake or two of some spices and a sprig or basil. All you tasted was the thick pasty cheese. The pita was almost soggy except for areas not covered by the cheese. Biscuit rating: ½ biscuit
MOROCCAN MERGUEZ SAUSAGE - Served on a little pillow of mashed potatoes sat two pieces of sausage. Combined they were about the size of a thin hot dog but much tastier. Hints of fennel and caraway could be detected as we nibbled our way through this dish. The potatoes were smooth and creamy and added a nice texture to the sausage. Biscuit rating: 3 biscuits
STEAMED MEDITERRANEAN SAFFRON MUSSELS - Served in a broth of white wine, garlic and onions. A serving of about a dozen mussels in a slightly sweet broth. They were hot, fresh and plump. Very tasty (even if I had one that tasted a bit off). Biscuit rating: 3 ½ biscuits
POLENTA SOUFFLÉ, mushrooms and blue cheese fondue (or at least that’s what the menu said). What we got was a polenta soufflé about 2 inches in diameter and about 1½ inches high sitting on a scant amount of thin slices of mushrooms with a beef demi glace. Not a bit of blue cheese to be found. It was still very tasty and probably my favorite of all the dishes we ordered. It was light and airy with the slight sweet flavor of the polenta. The mushrooms added some nice flavor but it was the demi glace that wowed me. Rich and bursting with flavor it complimented the polenta without overpowering it. Biscuit rating: 4 biscuits
Bottom line: Would I go there again? No.
The food was very good but it was very pricey for tapas. And when I go to a restaurant, my first impression should be a welcoming host or hostess not the snooty, look down upon the customer one we got here.
Biscuit rating: ½ biscuit
Prices for the small plates menu ranged from $6 to $15, a majority were $9.
Our check before tip: $75 With tip: $90