Duane Keller
Sunday Brunch
Duane Keller
Blue Point Grill
Alexandria, VA

Sunday, March 25, 12:00 noon
Members $55, guests $65

"An excellent choice for brunch," according to Washingtonian online, which gave the casually elegant Blue Point Grill in Alexandria, Virginia its "very best" three-star rating. "The cooking, which has won a place on our list of 100 Very Best Restaurants for its lunches and dinners, meets the same high standard at brunch." Pleased to get a solid recommendation, we immediately booked chef Duane Keller to work his morning magic for us this month at a Beard House brunch.

Keller, a graduate of the Pennsylvania State University's Hotel & Restaurant school, has more than 20 years experience at fine hotels and restaurants along the East Coast, including the O'Henry hotel's Green Valley Grill in Greensboro, North Carolina, Haile Plantation in Gainsville, Florida, the Hyatt's Market Street Bar & Grill in Reston, Virginia, and The Ashby Inn in Paris, Virginia, a 17th century country inn that was touted in Gourmet magazine during Keller's tenure. At Blue Point Grill (a "gem," according to Zagat), he makes "fabulous fresh seafood" (Zagat again) that reveals his round-the-world influences. Think Carolina grouper in lemon-caper butter sauce, Thai curried shellfish stew-made with shrimp, scallops, mussels, and clams in a red curry-coconut broth ("innovative fare," wrote Washingtonian about the dish), and tempura shrimp and oyster hand rolls wrapped, incongruously, in grilled tortillas and served with chili lime remoulade. "The kitchen gives simple and straightforward a good name," Zagat wrote.

Keller's responsibilities extend beyond the restaurant. He's also executive chef for the adjoining Sutton Place Gourmet, an airy, light-filled market where Washingtonians foodies in-the-know can count on finding the best bread, cheese, pítés, prepared meals, and raw ingredients. But it's at Blue Point that Keller really shines. Last month, just in time for Valentine's Day, the Washingtonian recommended the eatery for a romantic dinner. "The perfect dinner for two requires a place with sophistication and charm, relatively light appetizers and main courses, and a killer dessert," according to the magazine. "There's no better combination of these essentials than at Blue Point Grill."

In an earlier review, Washingtonian had noted, rhetorically, "At Blue Point, what's not to like?"

Blue Point Oysters Three Ways

Brioche with Glazed Morels

Rock Shrimp and "Roaring 40s" Strata

Chincoteague Oyster Stew with Country Ham and Leek Custard and Parsnip Crisps

Chilled Lobster and Papaya Cocktail

Pastrami-Cured Salmon and Sevruga Caviar Timbale with Crème Fraîche, Citrus Oil, and Chives

Crisp White Cheddar Grits with Oysters, Asparagus, Sautéed Spinach, Poached Egg, and Chorizo Country Gravy

Warm Raspberry, Apricot, and Mascarpone Crêpe


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