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The Early Word on Society Fair in Old Town Alexandria

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R. Lopez

Anticipation levels had been high from the moment restaurateurs Cathal and Meshelle Armstrong announced they were going to build a food emporium in Old Town Alexandria until Society Fair opened to the public a week and a half ago. With a highly successful restaurant empire under their belts, especially the flagship Restaurant Eve, expectations have also been high for the brand new market and wine bar. So has Society Fair been living up to those expectations in these early stages? Let's take a look at what some of the early diners and shoppers have to say.

The Good Sandwich News: A Don Rockwell commenter stopped into Society Fair and tried the DQMW sandwich: "braised short rib with horseradish sauce and pickled leeks. don't remember the bread...except it was perfect. the sandwich as a bit messy but quite tasty with a grat tang from the horseradish and leeks." [DonRockwell]

The Good News: Super Chef pays a visit and finds a lot to like about Society Fair, including its design details: "It feels like a Belle Epoque, late Victorian shop and café – or one of the food halls at Fortnum & Mason. There is plenty of room — to cruise around the lovely displays of cookies and stand at the espresso bar for a shot." [Super Chef]

More Good News: Capital Spice talked up the market on Twitter: "So many tasty impulse buys, but also some great deals on resto-quality items and some really hard to find ingredients." [Twitter]

Great Design News: Alexandria Patch really digs the design at Society Fair as well: "As we have come to expect from restaurants like Virtue Feed and Grain, the space and décor at Society Fair is a feast for the senses. A stunning chandelier and perfectly chosen light fixtures cast a warm glow on what may be the most visually appealing 'market' I’ve ever encountered." [Patch]

The Great News: Though initially maybe a little skeptical, one Don Rockwell commenter reports that, "First impressions yielded to richer ones, however and, as one might expect, Chef Armstrong (who was in the house seeing to the details) has brought a lot of foodie-firepower to bear here." [DonRockwell]

The Rave: Leave to a Yelper to file a rave with exclamation points to spare: "Amazing! Went to the demo and got a five star meal! Best part is, every ingredient I'd need to recreate the meal is available for sale! Incredible service and impeccable products!!!" [Yelp]

The Bad News: Yes, there's some bad news, too. For one, a couple of Yelpers find the prices just a tad high, including this one: "Now, I'm not one to shy away from a $16.00 salad but theirs makes me think twice about going back. They only have one salad choice each day and on my visit it was a ball of lightly dressed frissee lettuce no larger than a softball accompanied by one single chicken sausage. That was it. Oh, and if you would like bread , that will be $3.00 please." [Yelp]

More Bad News: Another common complaint on Yelp is lack of seating. As one customer explains: "we were met with an hour and a half wait for 3 people to sit in the wine bar: that is, at either a small table, or a seat at the bar. While we waited, we had a few glasses of wine, which we drank, while standing, holding our coats, in the cafe area.  No, the tables in the cafe area do not have stools, nor could we find a coat rack." [Yelp]

Society Fair

277 South Washington Street, , VA 22314 (703) 683-3247 Visit Website

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