A Full Plate, Sans Sushi
By Walter Nicholls
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 16, 1997
hat are we, the hungry people, going to get to eat and drink while we travel through National Airport's new terminal? Lots, but the selection's not quite what was intended by Paul Brown, general manager of Host Marriott Services at the airport.
Armed with "telephone books" of customer research, Host Marriott's "concept team" decided that a "marketplace" of food businesses and open kitchens, with travelers wandering through, would be just the thing for the new terminal.
Marriott's research also suggested there should be an Italian trattoria, a French brasserie, a sushi bar, a pita place and, of course, bagels. The terminal's center pier, which will handle the most vacation and leisure destinations, would lend itself to a tropical theme and food with an international flair. And, yes, there should be a brewpub.
"Hot! It's going to be like a fantasy world," Brown predicted last year. But that was 1,250 business proposals ago.
So what are we getting? Well, bagels and a brewpub. But overall, the "fantasy world" might be better called Home of the Breakfast Pizza (pizza dough topped with eggs and bacon is available at four locations).
Travelers will find a mix of the kind of outlets commonly found in the food courts of large shopping malls and major airports, no matter what their destination (the center pier's tropical theme is limited to a single Asian carryout). There's no sushi, but otherwise there is something for just about everyone.
Some concepts, like the trattoria, eventually were deemed as "too specialized," Brown said recently. Some, like the marketplace, were "too hard to actualize." And some deals just fell through. "We were shooting for the moon and we wound up in Wyoming," Brown said.
Still, Brown says he is very pleased with his tenant selections. "And the game isn't over yet," he added, predicting that in three to five years, the tenant mix will change as restaurants come and go. Perhaps then Brown will be able to secure the restaurant he personally wanted more than any other - a Mongolian barbecue place.
Until then, here's the lineup:
NATIONAL HALL NORTH
Legal Sea Foods
A full-service, 74-seat seafood restaurant that features a European-style, zinc-top oyster bar. The menu is geared for speed, with lots of appetizers as well as Legal's regular menu (entrees range from $6.25 to $18.95) for those with more time. Also: live lobsters wrapped in seaweed and cooled with gel packs for carry-on, perfect for placing under the seat in front of you or in the overhead bins.
A brushed-steel and glass kiosk that sells baked goods and espresso drinks.
Freshly baked sticky cinnamon rolls. Also: coffee drinks and a selection of bottled water.
Great Steak & Potato Co.
Philly-style cheese-steak sandwiches ($3.49 to $5.69), hand-cut fries, baked potatoes every which way and salads.
The former Redskin defensive end's first restaurant venture is all about atmosphere - 10 27-inch monitors for sports telecasts, photographic panoramas of sports stadiums, and celebrity sports memorabilia (including a pair of Kristi Yamaguchi's skates). Expect char-grilled American fare -ribs, burgers, fries and sandwiches (entrees $3.75 to $11.60). The restaurant has a full bar and 72 seats.
A locally based coffee bar with lots of fresh-baked goods and espresso drinks for a high-speed caffeine takeoff. Also: fruit, vegetable and blended drinks fresh from the juicer, "wrap" sandwiches (soft cracker bread rolled with turkey or ham), soups and
Mamma Ilardo's Pizzeria
and Freshens Yogurt
New York-style and deep dish pizza by the slice ($1.89 to $3.04) or whole ($9.95 to $14.95). For breakfast, Mamma serves a bacon, egg and cheese pizza. Also: salads and frozen yogurt.
Koo Koo Roo
A California-based chain of quick-service restaurants makes its airport debut. "Original" skinless flame-broiled chicken is the specialty ($5.79 for a breast and two side dishes). Also: roasted fresh turkey that is hand-carved from a 26-pound bird and a selection of side dishes that are made in small batches every 20 minutes.
The largest (6,200 square feet, 198 seats) restaurant at National is Friday's, a casual American bistro. First level: a full bar and express counter for grab-and-go sandwiches as well as burgers, salads and soups. A windowed elevator takes travelers to the second level for full-service dining (entrees $4.69 to $14.99). A wall of windows allows a super view of the runways, the Potomac River and Washington's monuments. There's a balcony area (six tables) that overlooks National Hall, for passenger watching.
A quick few bites when on the fly: hand-rolled, freshly baked plain and fancy soft pretzels and an array of dips to stick them in. Also: soft drinks.
Bakery Cafe (ticket level)
At the heart of the new terminal is a dessert cafe on the ticketing level with fresh and frozen desserts, salads and sandwiches. Beverages include espresso drinks, beer and wine.
A second location for cinnamon pastries and drinks.
Charlie Chiang's Kwai
National's only Asian choice likely will be a popular destination among frequent fliers. The "jin jin create your own noodle meal" menu ($4.95 to $6.95) touches down in seven Asian countries with a choice of seven kinds of noodles and toppings.
Exactly what the kids (and french fry lovers) want.
Chesapeake Bagel Bakery
Bagels are baked on-site. And there's bagel everything - spreads, breakfast bagels and pizza bagels.
California Pizza Kitchen's express counter offers a choice of 10 pizzas including four breakfast styles ($4.95 to $5.95) as well as salads, sandwiches, soups and desserts.
Virginia Beverage Co.
Huge copper tanks and stainless-steel pipes will alert thirsty travelers that they've landed in a brewpub. Monitors are tuned to news and sports channels, and five Internet lines let guests check their e-mail. Four locally handcrafted beers are on tap every day. Menu offerings include taco salad ($6.95), Southern potpie ($7.95) and Virginia stout-spiked chili ($5.95).
Frozen yogurt served with a variety of topping choices.
NATIONAL HALL SOUTH
A full-service, 2,000-square-foot California Pizza Kitchen bar and cafe (seats 65) with a view of the runways and the Potomac. The menu offers a choice of 14 savory and four breakfast pizzas ($3.99 to $7.50) plus salads, sandwiches, soups and desserts. Beer and wine are available.
A second kiosk for desserts and drinks.
A full-service, 60-seat restaurant and bar with a "ye old late-18th-century" look. There are large paintings depicting the Federal period, reproduction antique furnishings and an open kitchen serving (what else?) fusion food. Choose from tapas ($3.95 to $6.95), wraps ($5.95 to $6.50) and pizza ($5.50 to $6.95).
Flamer's Charbroiled Hamburgers
A gourmet burger and chicken concept where meats are cooked to order over an open lava-rock grill ($3.39 to $3.89).
Wall Street Deli
Overstuffed sandwiches ($3.25 to $5.35), baked goods, composed salads to grab and go, espresso drinks and "TCBY" frozen yogurt.
A fruit-smoothie operation that blends yogurt with fruit. Note: Fusion is owned by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian community in Arizona.
© Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Company
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