Dining Out {Classic Article}

100 King, named for their address in Old Town, is a chic spot in a chic neighborhood. The light, modern decor is conducive to diners coming for a full spectrum of occasions: first date, business, and groups of friends. The sound system played modern Mediterranean ballads and New Age music in the background. Now, we arrived at 5 p.m. on a Sunday, just as some of my favorite shops across the street were closing. There were plenty of seat available, but very quickly, things filled up. I would definitely recommend making reservations. Dress is casual.

One of the neat things about 100 King is they do both 3 and 6 oz pours for their glasses of wine. This practically begs for you do your own wine tasting. The 3 oz pours have an incredibly affordable range of $3.50 – $9.25. The wine list is arranged within the red and white categories by light, medium and full bodied wines, so you can really do a sensible wine/food pairing. Dining Companion and I tried some Lebanese wines to start out with, something that we can’t really get elsewhere. I sampled a medium-bodied white, La Dame Blanc. It was served in a little decanter. La Dame Blanc had a very spicy nose, with an oaky taste. I would suggest pairing it with spicy or robust seafood or vegetable dishes — it can handle the “punch”. Dining Companion ordered the medium bodied Lebanese red, the Reserve de Couvent; it had a leathery-tannin content to stand up to heavier meats and powerful spices.

Our attentive server brought over herbed flat breads and sourdough slices, along with herbed olive oil for dipping. 100 King is a tapas/small plates based restaurant, with large plates available for those wanting a more traditional dinner arrangement. But then, you’d be missing out on all the fun! She recommended that we order 2-3 dishes per person. I think you know which side we leaned to in that equation. Small plates run generally from $7 – 12 each. We started out with the Jibneh Halloum, which was sautéed, thick hunks of cheese served with little cherry tomatoes, green and black olives on chic, square plates. This was the Lebanese version of Greek saganaki, but not as goopy and not served flaming. It was very tasty! I did not want to share with Dining Companion, but he was my ride home!

Then, we tried the braised beef with green olives and veggies. This was a pot-roast type of dish, perfect for those who want some familiar comfort fare. Then, we ordered the fried oysters with yogurt and cucumber dip. You wouldn’t guess that “tzaziki” and oysters would go together, but they do! Also, the oysters came in a generous portion, big and plump.

Next, we ordered a couple more 3 oz pours: a light Riesling for Dining Companion and a French Vouvray for “moi”. The Riesling was very fruity and would go with any of the cheese items. The Vouvray, a medium bodied white wine, had plenty of floral and grassy notes; this would be a good selection for any of the vegetable or more herby dishes. Then before more courses arrived, our plates and silverware were changed, a pleasant surprise. We then sampled the calamari, simply prepared with a little salt, paprika, parsley and a tiny, tiny bit of garlic. They were fairly tender, with the simple preparation allowing the clean, fresh flavors to shine through.

The night before, Dining Companion and I were watching Emeril vs Mario doing gnocchi, so we had gnocchi on the brain. We ordered it and were very pleased. We have been to Italian restaurants that don’t cook the gnocchi properly and they have a raw bread quality. 100 King’s gnocchi are perfectly sautéed in a sage butter sauce.

Looking at the menu, we were curious about the Portuguese fresh sardines. When I was a little kid, I was crazy about canned sardines, but for some reason, I moved away from them. I wondered what fresh sardines were like. So, we gave them a go. They were simply prepared, salted, with a firm texture. If you like bluefish or other dark-meat fish, you will like fresh sardines.

Then, we started moving towards the dessert realm. First, we started off with a cheese plate trio ($12), selecting among about 7 cheeses labneh, garrotxa and tallegio. I think they substituted valdeon for the garrotxa, but all the cheeses were very good and interesting. I often enjoy labneh at home, just the way they served it, with lavender honey. Their labneh was of a much better quality than I usually get my hands on; it had a light, coconutty taste.

Then, we ordered some hot beverages to continue with dessert. I had been wanting to try the famed South American drink mate’, which 100 King serves in gourds, but they were out. I ordered the Moroccan mint tea, with fresh mint and Dining Companion got the Arabic tea, with cardamom. I had been afraid that cardamom would me too overpowering for a tea, but it was very good. Next on the dessert agenda, we ordered a creme brulee’ [of course] and the chocolate gateau with basil/mint sauce. I liked the creme brulee well enough, but the chocolate dessert was really special. First of all, the basil in the sauce prevented the cake from tasting like an Andes mint, which would be too cliché’. Also, it had a rich, hot center made out of an outstanding quality of dark chocolate.

A good time was had by all at 100 King.

Monday: Thursday: 11:30am – 3:00pm, 5:00pm – 10:00pm
Friday: 11:30am – 3:00pm, 5:00pm – 11:00pm
Saturday: 11:30am – 11:00pm
Sunday: 11:00am – 10:00pm

100 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314

(703) 299-0076

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