Story by Liesel Schmidt | Photography by Astrid Photography
When it comes to standing out and capturing attention, restaurants have a tall order in front of them. So much of the same is presented from one place to another, from one menu to the next, that it takes ingenuity, imagination, creativity, and—above all—talent to achieve success in such a crowded industry. Fortunately for Café 44, they have all four in spades; and their diners are eating it up—one delicious bite at a time.
Open since October 2017, the restaurant delivers the very sort of culinary experience one would hope to find at a location so picturesque as theirs, situated along the waterfront in Old Town Alexandria. And while the panoramic view of the Potomac River and rooftop terrace are certainly highlights, it is the seasonally-driven menu that brings guests to their door and anxious to take a seat at their tables.
“I really wanted to create a stylish restaurant that offered chef-driven New American cuisine,” says owner Jula Jane. To call them stylish would be an understatement, as the sleek, minimalistic décor allows all eyes to be on their spectacular views and one very unique feature: an undulating wall covered entirely in greenery. In some ways, it sets up expectations of the food, as it alludes to freshness and sustainability—two things that are high on the priority list for Chef Nicki Lewis, though creativity and taking the time to do things the right way are also paramount. “Those are the things that make people want to taste your food,” says Lewis, who created a menu that displayed her passion and talents, from best sellers like Shrimp-n-Grits, Cajun Shrimp Tacos, Avocado Toast, and a variety of colorful dishes on their extremely popular three-course Prix Fixe Brunch menu.
Not to be missed during a trip to Café 44 is their impressive bar, the seemingly endless stretch of real estate it occupies within the restaurant is the perfect playground for Joe Q, the restaurant’s charming and extremely gifted mixologist whose talents with creating drinks is nothing short of epic. Using the foundation of many of the classics, Joe Q has added his own twist, mixing up signature drinks that incorporate some very unexpected and innovative ingredients, and patrons can’t seem to get enough.
Naturally, their views make them the perfect venue for celebrating special occasions, and they gladly rent out the restaurant for events—their most beloved, of course, being bridal showers, engagement parties, rehearsal dinners, and even wedding receptions. “Our view and unique location make the perfect backdrop for these special occasions, and patrons love being in-the-know about this ‘hidden gem’ on the waterfront,” says Jane. “Their guests are blown away when they walk in and see the amazing views and stylish furnishings. Plus, we know how to throw a great party!”
With such strengths in their corner, it’s little wonder that Café 44 has made such a mark on the restaurant scene in Old Town…And clearly, they’ve got no intention of fading into the background.
44 Canal Center Plaze, Suite 401, Alexandria, VA 22314
(571) 344-9100 | www.cafe44.com