Brine, oysterman Travis Croxton's farm-to-table restaurant in the Mosaic District, quietly launched a soft opening last week so friends and family could test drive chef John Critchley's menu that ventures well beyond the standard seafood fare of the Chesapeake.
With Brine's official opening at 5 p.m. today, you can, of course, slurp a bivalve from Croxton's Rappahannock River Oyster Co., but you can also suck down briny delights from other producers, which is mighty open-minded of Croxton.
"We wanted to showcase more regions than I normally do at my restaurants," Croxton wrote via e-mail, "so I even picked up some Blue Pools from the airport from my buddies over at Hama Hama [oyster company] in Washington, as well as some Massachusetts oysters from John's home state."
But you can also dig into Atlantic seafood rarely seen outside of neighborhood joints that specialize in fried fish. Critchley has both croaker and perch on his "simple fish" section of the menu, where your selection can be prepared with one of three sauces: lemon aioli, wakame salsa verde or sofrito.
What's more, you'll find Carolina trout and a fried blue catfish, the latter an invasive species that has become increasingly popular with chefs for their fish and chips platters. You can even experience the bounty of the Chesapeake in Critchley's bouillabaisse, which includes perch, blue crab, eel and rockfish. Odds are good that local seafood will find their way onto Critchley's rotisserie grill, which will be a centerpiece of Brine.
The local flavors will spill onto the beer and wine menus. The entire draft list is packed with regional favorites, whether 3 Stars Brewing Co.'s Peppercorn Saison or Atlas Brew Works's Rowdy Rye. The wine list includes Virginia bottles such as a barbera from Barboursville Vineyards and a sparkling chardonnay from Thibaut-Janisson.
Brine will open at 5 p.m. today with "a prosecco toast for everyone that comes in," Croxton promises.
Brine, 2985 District Ave., Suite 120, Fairfax. Phone: 703-280-1000.