In a move we’re not particularly fond of, the City of Alexandria has re-branded the northwest part of Old Town. A British General (Braddock) got the nod over thousands of black Alexandrians, and some whites too, who lived in Parker-Gray when it was a thriving place to live west of Washington Street. By extension, the neighborhood includes some of the surrounding areas. We’ll also remind you the Bottoms or the Dip neighborhood has been deleted from our memory, as well as other places African-American lived in Alexandria.
Of course, that doesn’t mean everyone in the hood has to use the name Braddock Metro. For example, the website for Mason Social, a new restaurant at N. Henry and Madison, is all about Parker-Gray.
And it’s not just lip service. The restaurant is owned and ran by four Alexandria residents and their friends.
A nit pick is the only natural light comes on the bar side and not in the dining room. This is ok with history buffs like myself. In place of some of the windows are large black and white photos. One shows the Belle Pre Glass Plant that once stood across the street, a photo I had not seen before. Another shows farming, a nod to the area’s 19th century past.
If you wondered about the restaurant’s name, and thought maybe Mason Social derivers from Thomson Francis Mason, you can be pleased that is the case. Mason was a grandson of George Mason. He not only built Colross, but also Huntley, a Historic Manor three miles south in Groveton. It’s the sole survivor of the handful of manors that once graced the hills south of Alexandria.
Ok, you can’t eat history.
Mason Social’s approach is a limited choice menu that focuses on doing a lesser amount of dishes right. That was certainly the case with the Marrow Burger. Bone marrow and top-quality beef produced a winner. Beer Mussels pleased the better half, more agreeable to her tummy than the wine counterpart. Our salads were topped with a scallions-flavored vinaigrette and homemade, sweet-tasting croutons. Service was terrific.
Parking can be tough, but that’s a good sign. Parker-Gray is coming on strong.