After church on Sunday, I was craving breakfast food and looking to try something new. We often eat out after church with my dad and my brother and his family, but on this day, it was just me and the kids. After doing a little searching on UrbanSpoon (love that app!), I settled on Del Ray Café.
I was intrigued by the Tom Sietsema’s review, as well as some others that described the owner’s vision for a family/kid-friendly eatery with a menu focused on local, organic foods.
The restaurant is in a charming remodeled two-story house located just off of Mt. Vernon Avenue. It is an intimate space, with seating for less than 50. When we arrived at 11am, we were told it would be a 10 minute wait. Unfortunately, there is little room to wait indoors, so despite it being a chilly morning, the kids and I headed back outside, where they had fun running around the tiny front yard. After 20 or so minutes, we were finally seated and the hostess apologized for the wait.
We were seated upstairs and I found it to be a cozy and welcoming space. Our small table was filled breakable glassware, most of which I asked to be cleared as soon as possible. My daughter was delighted her favorite drink (orange soda) came in a glass bottle (Boyle’s) and her little brother followed suit. The middle child enjoyed hot chocolate (although he complained it wasn’t very sweet) and I had a nice cup of coffee.
My daughter opted for the fried chicken, green beans and tomatoes; my youngest went with the pancakes and fruit cup, and my middle child decided to try the crepes with chocolate filling.
As for me, I went with a custom 3 egg omelet — filling it with yummy ingredients like mushrooms, caramelized shallots, peppers and bacon.
Everyone loved their dish, except my 7 year old who decided he didn’t like crepes (however he had no problem opening it up and scooping out the chocolate filling, nor devouring the delicious whipped cream).
The food was filling and delicious, but have to say, the highlight was the treatment we received from the owner. At one point, I had to take my youngest to the bathroom, leaving my 7 and 9 year old to behave themselves unsupervised at the table (a dicey proposition). When I returned, my daughter told me a man came over and made small talk. That man turned out to be owner Laurent Janowsky.
Later my son asked me if the owner had lived in the house prior to converting it to a restaurant, so I waved the Laurent over so Sam could ask the question in person. Mr. Janowsky shared the history of the building (it had been a frame shop, and once a courier station prior to his purchase, converting it to a restaurant) and chit chatted with us for several minutes.
He asked how everyone liked the food and told my daughter he was getting ready to change up the kids menu — the new menu should include some exciting options like frog legs! She wasn’t sure he was serious but was charmed, just like I was. Later, he stopped by and told me he took her dish off the bill because it was more browned than it should have been. I had thought the same but never mentioned it. What service!
As someone who eats “paleo” I found it had yummy choices for me, and the I loved that the kids meal had healthy and different food options than your standard kid fare (mac ‘n cheese, pizza, etc.) I noticed on their website they are also a peanut free restaurant which should be a boon to those with that allergy. The kids menu was reasonably priced, $5 or $6, and the adult menu seemed reasonable as well.
Overall, we had a tasty meal and greatly enjoyed our experience. I look forward to coming back again with Mike.
Del Ray Café
205 E. Howell Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22301