2941 Restaurant, once a fine dining establishment specializing in French-American cuisine, reopened transformed after taking a break at the beginning of the year. The change was intended to make the restaurant, which for its ambiance (and cost) some reserved as a special spot for dining on birthdays or for other celebrations, less formal. The result is a renovated dining space, and a rethought menu.
Trademark pieces of the décor remain, like the koi pond that greets customers as they enter the spot, and the expanse of floor-to-ceiling windows that let diners marvel at the greenery that surrounds them, which seems so far removed from the urban bustle of Northern Virginia. Even months from the revamp, customers and staff still share comments on the jellyfish chandelier, which didn’t make the cut. Gone too are the tablecloths that once decorated each dining table. But, when gazing at the restaurant gives way to looking at the menu, the change is most obvious.
An alliterative menu – divided into Nosh, Next, Noodles, Need and Naughty categories – ranges from the $4 beet, cheese and fruit skewers to the $31 lamb loin and eggplant caviar. The menu’s offerings also make clear that the restaurant is straying from its French-American roots and fusing pan-Mediterranean tastes with American cuisine. From the Nosh selections, one can order a serving that amounts to just a few bites of the dish. With options like the Black Truffle Mac & Cheese Croquettes ($6), the more casual dining approach in this new menu section is most obvious. But still, evidenced when taking a bite into the tiny breaded rounds, which blend potent mushroom and cheese flavors into little croquettes that maintain the distinct shape and texture of the noodles, the treatment is skilled, even for a simple dish.
The Next section, essentially the appetizers, features options like salads and a wonderfully creamy, mild Mushroom Potage ($8) at the less-costly end of the spectrum, but crab cakes and fois gras for a higher cost. Selections from the Noodles portion of the menu can be ordered at half size, intended to serve as appetizers, or full size, doing double duty in a way that bolsters the menu’s new flexibility. Among them is a gnocchi dish ($10/$19) – house-made, the menu touts – in which the noodles are served in a creamy sauce, dotted with green herbs and mixed with mushroom pieces. The whole concoction is dusted in Parmesan cheese, adding another layer of flavor to the dish as the creamy yet bright sauce coats noodles surprisingly robust with potato flavor.
Entrees come with the Need menu section, a collection of dishes with international treatments, from the Mediterranean Dorade ($26) to the “Meat & Potatoes” ($29) of beef rib eye and Virginia cheese baked potato. Among them is the Roasted Duck “a L’Orange” ($27), which in itself is a sign of the menu’s new Mediterranean fusion approach. The classic French dish is served two ways. A piece of brazed duck is plated atop a bed of bacon-flavored Swiss chard, and next to it is a phyllo pastry-wrapped serving of duck. In both treatments, the tender, well-seasoned duck is delicious, be it cooked with a nice brazed crust or packed in juicy shreds inside a crispy shell.
Naughty, as is to be expected, is the space reserved for those sweet temptations that end a meal, and at $8 apiece, cost is no reason to say no. The Dark & Stormy dessert echoes the flavors of that rum-and-ginger cocktail, serving a sliver of Jamaican rum cake with a creamy ginger semifreddo with candied ginger bits. A dab of tart lime sherbet, it seems, becomes the lime garnishing the edge of the cocktail’s glass.
The divided menu, heavy on small-plate dishes, makes for a customizable meal sure to fit any occasion or budget, be it a few appetizer plates and half-entrees split amongst friends, or a lavish multi-course feast, making it a contender in the regular dining-out rotation as well as a special treat.
2941 Restaurant is located at 2941 Fairview Park Drive, Falls Church. For more information, call 703-270-1500 or visit 2941.com. Restaurant hours are Monday – Friday: 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.; 5 – 9:30 p.m.; and Saturday: 5 – 10 p.m.