The owner was originally leaning toward Croxton & Sons, as a nod to his three sons. But then designer Mike Van Hall did a series of graphics for Brine, and that was that. Van Hall "thought he could do a really good treatment on it, and he did," Croxton says. "When I saw it, I thought that makes sense."
So Brine it is.
But Brine, the restaurant, won't be completely dedicated to the briny bivalves on which Croxton has made a living for years. The owner is borrowing a page from chef Mike Isabella, Croxton's cable-TV-approved partner in the forthcoming Graffiato in Richmond, and installing a wood-fired grill, with rotisserie spits, just like the ones at Kapnos on 14th Street NW.
The wood grills at Brine will be loaded with chickens, ducks, cuts of lamb and even whole fish. About one-third of the menu will be comprised of fish and shellfish, Croxton estimates, with the rest focused on meats, poultry and vegetables. There will, of course, be a raw bar dedicated to those slurpable oysters on the half shell.
Brine's calling card, however, will be its producers: Aside from dry goods, as Croxton likes to say, all the ingredients at Brine (as well as the other three restaurants that Croxton will open in different markets under the Rocksalt name) will come from local farmers.
"That's the truth," Croxton says. "The concept was to support these local producers on a mass level. Not just talk about it, but do it."
Dylan Fultineer, chef at Croxton's Rappahannock restaurant in Richmond, was the trailblazer for his boss. Fultineer figured out how to source his vegetables and proteins from local farms without turning the process into a logistical nightmare, crisscrossing the Virginia landscape to buy all his ingredients.
"It's a lot of work, but it makes a difference," Croxton says. It requires an additional "chef that you have to hire to do it."
Croxton has a head chef in mind to lead Brine, but he can't name him yet. The hire could come by January, however, with a targeted opening date of March 2015. The similarly themed Rocksalt restaurants will start to roll out next month, Croxton says. The Rocksalt in Charlottesville is expected to launch in early September, followed by the Rocksalt in Charlotte, N.C., in late fall. The Asheville, N.C., location of Rocksalt is looking to launch in late spring 2015.
"And then," Croxton says, "I'm going to take a vacation."
Brine will be located at 2985 District Ave., Suite 120, in Fairfax.