Columbia Firehouse – Alexandria Restaurant Week

I’m a little behind on getting this entry up, but Alexandria Restaurant Week was the week following DC’s, and naturally I had to try out another new place!  I had plans to meet up with a good friend of mine, and she happily agreed to trying somewhere new.  After going through all of the menus, we settled on Columbia Firehouse thanks to their incredible sounding seafood dishes.  I had called a few of the restaurants in advance to see how they reacted to my request for a gluten free restaurant week selection.  Columbia Firehouse was quick to tell me that although they did not have a separate selection for gluten free guests, the chef was very knowledgeable, and could work with me to ensure I had a great meal.  SOLD!

This next part of the reservation was something I wish I’d figured out earlier.  I’m not sure how many people out there are already using Open Table, I used it occasionally, but it’s now become my best preemptive move when making reservations.  Remember my last entry about Bora Bora?  At the end, one of my lessons learned was to notify the resort in advance.  Hint: That concept doesn’t just apply to resorts!  I’ve updated my profile on Open Table to include the following automated special request (which will be sent to the restaurant anytime I make a reservation): “Guest has a severe Gluten allergy, must eat gluten free and restaurant will need to be aware of potential cross-contamination. Thank you!”  It’s short and sweet, and while we all know it isn’t a gluten allergy, the response I get to that message is incredible!

When I arrived at the restaurant, my friend had already been seated and was gushing about how concerned the staff was that they prepare my meal safely.  After realizing the request was for me and not her, they held back further information until I was seated.  Once I was handed my menu, our waiter discussed with me the items that would definitely not be safe.  He then asked what I wanted so he could discuss modifications with the chef.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but I personally prefer ordering items with the least modifications necessary.  It’s the easiest on the kitchen, and has more of a chance to taste the way the chef initially intended.  I wasn’t completely sure what I wanted, so I let the waiter tell me what the most popular and “famous” items on the menu were.  Being a cold day, I settled on the soup of the day, along with their scallops, and a slightly modified apple – pear compote for dessert.

Every last bite of each course was delicious!!!  Not only that, but the staff were so accommodating.  When my friend didn’t want the potatoes that came with her meal, they allowed her to substitute the side with an additional helping of greens without batting an eye.  When her sauteed kale came out, I have to say it looked great!  Open Table’s special requests section was definitely a success.  All future reservations I make will without a doubt include that message 🙂 Now for the fun stuff…pictures of my dinner!

Sweet Potato Soup

Pureed Sweet Potato Soup with Pesto and Cream Garnishes

Seared Day Boat Scallops

Scallops, Shaved Brussels Sprouts, House Cured Bacon, Turban Squash, Mulled Cider Syrup

Spiced Apple & Pear Crisp

Cinnamon-Vanilla Apple and Pear Compote & Ginger Ice Cream (ordered without the Oat Streusel to make the dish gluten free)

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