Northern Virginia Magazine's 50 Best Restaurants 2016

“If we’re making ramen, we’re making our own noodles. We’re not buying. What’s the fun in that?” At a few years shy of 50, when most chefs leave the line for empire-building (hold that thought), Cathal Armstrong still very much lives in his kitchen. If there is something on the menu, from the harissa seasoning his multistep, 1,000-ingredient bouillabaisse to the lumpia wrappers for his version of Filipino egg rolls, he’s making it from scratch. Yogurt, tasso-style duck and dumplings. Everything. A starter for lunch, the mussels in a buttery namm jim, a Thai dipping sauce for seafood, are so spicy guests require a warning, but on that same menu, a hand-cut steak tartare remains a pitch-perfect classic. Before the next course, be it bass surrounded by cream and cucumbers or a stunning bouillabaisse, servers will come smiling to the table, whisking away any remnants of the previous course (or crusty bread!) with a shiny crumber. The pan-Asian family-style tasting menu is still one of the most exciting and surprising ways to dine fine in Northern Virginia. And as for Armstrong, before he opens a restaurant and a distillery in D.C. (he’s also looking at an Old Town waterfront property), make sure to be the center of his attention at Restaurant Eve.

Northern Virginia Magazine, 2016