Kyle Martell/Courtesy Neighborhood Restaurant Group
2012 Fall Dining Guide
By Tom Sietsema
Washington Post Magazine
Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012
You have until early December to take in the cooking of Tony Chittum in Alexandria. After that, the chef plans to focus on Washington, where he aims to reopen the Iron Gate Inn in Dupont Circle next year. His yet-to-be-named successor has big clogs to fill. I've eaten bushels of crab salad on the job, none better than Chittum's steamed Maryland crab tossed with Green Goddess dressing and garnished with house-baked saltines. In his hands, chicken is anything but cooped up. Brined in sweet spices and roasted to a juicy turn, the chef's summertime bird was elevated by sweet corn succotash and Virginia ham. Nubby fritters shaped from ground pork sausage and served with see-through strips of zucchini and garlicky yogurt reflect the influence of his Greek wife. It isn't just the plates that make this cozy, two-story restaurant special; the service weaves enthusiasm with smarts, and shelves of apple butter and pickled fiddlehead ferns serve as delicious wall art.