In Fairfax City, a Fresh Look Behind a Familiar Face
The new French restaurant in Fairfax City, La Rue 123 (4023 Chain Bridge Rd.; 703-691-2266), is little more than a block removed from Le Tire Bouchon, and to read the two menus is to find they even share a few dishes, including lobster bisque and rack of lamb.
The street mates have a further link: The owner of the new kid on the block is Huseyin Kansu, a former partner in Le Tire Bouchon, which he left last June. His chef, Kemal Deger, also worked there.
"Cook what you know" is how Kansu explains the similarities. "This is what I do best." Beginning last month at La Rue 123, his has been the first face to greet diners, many of whom used to be his patrons down the street and appear happy to see him playing master of ceremonies again after an absence of almost a year. "This was the longest vacation I ever had," jokes Kansu, who says he held out for a space (the former Bailiwick Inn) that would be convenient for his former regulars.
At La Rue 123, there's little to remind anyone of the stuffy venue that preceded it. Kansu and his wife, Didem, redecorated the three ground-floor dining rooms with soft yellow paint on the walls, burgundy fabric for the drapes and fresh art all around. "This is just the beginning," says the owner. In the weeks to come, he plans to freshen up the outdoor patio and transform a room off the entrance into a cocktail lounge. And a forthcoming convection oven will translate to souffles on the dessert menu. Currently, the restaurateur's stake in the historic property is limited to the ground floor; the nine guest rooms upstairs remain vacant.
Didem Kansu came up with the name for the new restaurant, which plays off its location on Route 123, one of Virginia's best-known state highways. "It's easy to say and to remember," says her husband. Unlike at his last job: "We had a hard time with Le Tire Bouchon."
Dinner entrees $22-$30.