There's no end to the embellished ways to describe dishes like fried chicken and shrimp and grits. Magnolia's On King opens in Old Town Alexandria with what it calls "southern immersion cuisine."
The refined takes on comfort classics includes bison meatloaf, deep fried oyster po' boy sliders, and baked mac and cheese made with local cheeses and "house pork rind dust." That fried chicken? Chef Brian Rowe brines it in sweet tea and serves it with sweet potato hushpuppies and greens. Rowe, an Annapolis native who's cooked from Beverly Hills to Lyon, France, aims to source meats and produce from within a 60-mile radius of the restaurant when he can.
"Shareable plates"—not to be confused with the "shareable sides" also on the menu—range from $11 to $16. Entrees cost between $15 for the sole vegetarian main dish (eggplant and mushroom cassoulet) to $28 for a 10 oz. "Denver" steak.
Desserts ($5 to $8) from pastry chef Hans Fogelman have equally homey inspirations, including a s'mores bread pudding and "mom's" hot fudge sundae.
Barman Zachary Faden, formerly of Columbia Room and Rogue 24, oversees the cocktails, which will be served in 1920s crystal stemware on the second floor lounge. The wine list includes 15 by-the-glass options from $9 to $15.
Adding to the "southern immersion," the two-story restaurant's design takes inspiration from Virginia and Charleston, S.C. plantation homes, including gold-upholstered chairs, a working fireplace, and mahogany-stained tabletops. A chandelier near the entrance is in the shape of a pineapple, a symbol of Virginia hospitality.
Here's a look at the menu: