- The second-story lounge area with wings symbolizing virtue.
- The artwork over the staircase is titled "The Mechanical Period" by Andre De Moeller and is meant to honor those who helped restore the building.
- The second-floor bar and stools whose backs mimic (and in some cases are) reclaimed feed bags.
- The game room.
Virtue Feed & Grain, the latest venture from Alexandria restaurateurs Cathal and Meshelle Armstrong, opens tomorrow by Old Town's Potomac waterfront. The design and menu at this American tavern puts a modern spin on tradition, drawing on chef Cathal Armstrong's Irish heritage and paying homage to the history of Alexandria — which has been home to the restaurateurs' other successful concepts (Restaurant Eve, The Majestic, PX and Eamonn's) for years.
Over the course of more than a year, the Armstrongs and their design team have restored this two-story historic warehouse — which was a feed house in the 1800s, hence the name — into an expansive 350-seat pub using reclaimed materials that hint at the building's past. Distressed couches and lounge chairs are topped with feed bag pillows, in reference to the earliest days. But Virtue also nods to the building's previous tenant, Olsson's Books and Records, repurposing the wood from the bookstore's staircase for the dining room tables and displaying the shop's sign in the second-floor game room.
Oh, the game room. Tucked into the back corner of the second floor, Virtue's game room overlooks the Potomac and comes complete with games from all eras: a pool table sits beside a Nintendo Wii game system, while 1980s arcade games (Stargate, Pac Mac Plus and Donkey Kong) take up a corner of the leather-couch-lined room.
As for the food, Virtue will be Cathal Armstrong's take on pub food — so alongside your buffalo wings, chicken pot pie and stuffed potato skins, there will be egg mayonnaise, duck confit with lyonnaise potatoes, ox tongue salad and more, executed by former Restaurant Eve chef Ryan Wheeler. See the full menu here. The first Sunday of each month will bring a pajama brunch and every now and then — for St. Patrick's Day, First Night Alexandria and more — they'll be closing down the adjacent alley for block parties. Virtue will eventually open a walk-up window for all your fried chicken to-go needs, but unspecified issues with the alley have delayed that particular plan.
There are bars on both levels of the restaurant, including one extremely long bar downstairs, offering a beverage program directed by Todd Thrasher, mixologist and partner in the project. The building was a former brewery, so beer and beer cocktails will be taking front-and-center.
Virtue officially opens to the public for dinner service starting at 5:30 p.m. tomorrow and will later add a lunch service, too.