Open Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; Monday-Thursday, 5-10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5-11; 30 p.m., and Sunday 4-10 p.m. No reservations are accepted. Bank Americard, Mastercharge, American Express, and Diners Club cards accepted. There are reserved parking spaces for handicapped at the front door, a ramp leads to the entry way, and door are double hinged. Rest rooms are equipped for wheelchairs. Call 751-5404.
Who can resist having drinks in a real caboose or eating roast beef in a bona fide boxcar?
In 1969 three West Coast college buddies decided the answer was "nobody," and started a chain of restaurants called Victoria Station. They built each out of surplus rolling stock bought at auction in this country, and decorated them with railway artifacts from Britain. Their 57th restaurant opened last month at the corner of Van Dorn and Pickett Streets in Alexandria.
My family of four joined up with a neighborhood train buff and his family recently to give it a try. We found it a combination of good American meat and potatoes cuisine served in the best of British railway atmosphere.
The caboose and four boxcars that make up the resturant are still set up on their wheels and parked on sections of track, complete with gray rock ballast.
We arrived about 6 p.m. on a Wednesday evening to find the parking lot almost full. Inside there was plenty of room. The restaurant seats 296 people and the bar accommodates 100.
Each child is given a special menu that has a punch-out green locomotive on it.
Hanging on the boxcar walls are scores of brown and white station signs with names like Water Orton, Leighton Buzzards, Rhuddalen Siding. Lighting is provided by signal lamps, and there are lots of farmed 1920s handbills advertising football excursion trips, warning enginemen to "beware of hounds on the railway line" and such.
Our only complaint was that the service was slightly slow, although our waiter couldn't have been more attentive to the children.
In addition to the usual grown-up cocktails, Victoria Station offers several children's drinks with names like Cherry Caboose and Rail Ginger Ale. They're heavy on the grenadine and cherries and cost 50 cents each.
The salad bar is standard but everything on it was fresh, crisp and tasty. Salad is included in the price of the entree, or you can fill up on bread and salad for $2.45.
Two of the children chose the half pound chopped beef steak at $2.75. The portions were generous and the meat was well cooked. Our 5-year-old chose the $3.95 Shrimp Victoria - a dish of five large shrimp butterflied and sauteed in their shells. Also on the children's menu were prime rib, top sirloin steak at $3.95 and becued beef ribs at $3.35.
The regular menu listed most of the same entrees at $2.50 to $3.00 more per item. The beef ribs, at $5.95, were hot and spicy.
The 11-ounce cut of prime rib, the smallest on the menu, was juicy and rare as my husband wanted it, but could have been a lot hotter when it came to the table.
The Engineman's cut of prime rib weighs 22 ounces and costs $8.75. Then thee is cut for two - 28 ounces for $9.95.
Two others in our party order the Queensgate filet (8 ounces) served with pifaf at $6.75 and the beef kabob, also served with rice, at the same price. Both were pronounced very good. Also on the menu were steaks and shrimp, and combinations of the two, ranging in price from $6.95 to $8.45.
Except ofr the salad, vegetables are not included in the price of the entree. A skillet of sauteed mushrooms costs $1.35 and baked ptoato and rice pilaf are 65 cents each.
For the four adults and four children, our bill, including tow beers and three glasses of wine, came to $48.70, excluding tip.