Jim Jeffords, the new chef at Evening Star Cafe in Alexandria. (Samer Farha)

The funky Del Ray restaurant, previously helmed by chef Will Artley, closed for remodeling in early November. When diners return, they can expect to find a double-sided blue velvet banquette and a light fixture crafted from antique mason jars among the enhancements. Out of sight will be a 2,000 square-foot rooftop plot for a garden, where Jeffords plans to grow heirloom varieties of herbs and vegetables for the establishment, which is part of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group .

Jeffords comes to his latest gig from CityZen , the top-tier dining room in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on the southwest waterfront. In his four years there, he worked his way from unpaid intern to line cook and moved from canapé-making to fish and meat stations. “He’s very interested in the food he grew up with,” says Michael Babin, co-owner of NRG.

“There will be Southern accents in every dish,” says the 2007 graduate of the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont. A preview of the forthcoming dinner menu reveals scallops served with a hoe cake and tomatillo chow chow, and a risotto swirled with hoppin john, brined tasso, black-eyed peas and mustard greens. There also will be miniature pecan pies and an Oreo stack cake, a confection Jeffords traces to childhood birthday parties.

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