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“Excellent food, but everything else average”

Le Refuge Restaurant
Ranked #35 of 752 Restaurants in Alexandria
Certificate of Excellence
Cuisines: French
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Special occasions, Romantic
Dining options: Lunch, Dinner, Late Night, Full Bar, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible
Neighborhood: Old Town
Alexandria, Virginia
Level Contributor
221 reviews
183 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 81 helpful votes
“Excellent food, but everything else average”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 5, 2011

We went based on the excellent TripAdvisor reviews, and the food certainly was outstanding. We did the pre-theater fixed price menu, and everything was excellent. Lentil soup was very special. Our three entrees were calf liver, leg of lamb, and chicken breast, and we were all very pleased. The chocolate mousse and peach melba were likewise very good.

However, I certainly can't brag about the service. I'm not saying that service was poor, but it was the type of place where they seemed to make us feel they were doing us a favor by waiting on us instead of the warm, cordial service I've experienced at a number of other places nearby. We were only the second table to be seated, and while the restaurant did fill up as the evening progressed, the indifference of our server was palpable.

The space is small and cramped, with the small tables being VERY close together, so that even getting up to go to the restroom involved squeezing between chairs. Fortunately, the crowd was of the quieter variety, so we didn't feel like our privacy was being terribly invaded by the proximity to other diners, but if it had been a louder group of people, we would have felt that the quarters were much too close.

All in all, I'd recommend it for the food, and for that reason am giving it four stars, but it takes more than excellent food to make an excellent dining experience. With a little improvement in service and arrangement of the space, it could truly be a place to which I'd return again and again. But right now, not so much.

  • Visited December 2011
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
3 Thank cjsalexva
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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272 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Level Contributor
77 reviews
39 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
“Great French Restaurant”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 30, 2011

Great food at a great price. Many specials of the day to choose from. We enjoyed it so much that we returned a second time during our stay in Alexandria.

Visited October 2011
Thank MiamiFirefighter
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Atlanta, Georgia
Level Contributor
9 reviews
6 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Perfect evening”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 25, 2011

We were visiting relatives and they picked on of their favorite places. What a treat. The endive salad was wonderful. My husband thought the Caesar Salad was the best he ever had. The beef was cooked to perfection, the rock fish with crabmeat was out of this world. The profiteroles were huge, puffy, divine.. There were 6 of us and we had not seen each other in a while, so we were very busy talking....the service was perfect.....attentive, but not intrusive. When I go to Alexandria again I will definitely return.

  • Visited October 2011
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
1 Thank patra312
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Alexandria, Virginia
Level Contributor
60 reviews
32 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
“Yikes! Small, noisy, and absolutely wonderful.”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 30, 2011

Yep, make your reservation and be prepared for a wonderful treat in store. Awesome soft shells, in season, crab meat and avocado salad to die for, asparagus with smoked trout incredible, rock fish stuffed with crab meat and on and on and on ending with an apple tart with vanilla ice cream and cappuccino.

Very small place, but lovely, service wonderful, and all courses up to snuff and beyond!

What a wonderful find and especially for the tourist who wants a wonderful meal, without a maddening crowd.

  • Visited September 2011
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
1 Thank Aquapat
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Level Contributor
126 reviews
49 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 62 helpful votes
“I think the best bistro in Alexandria”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 12, 2011

Do you love cheese and pate? Really? Oh, me too, I could eat it every day!
Well, could doesn't mean you should, I don't work out, so, I'm in the shouldn't category.

I took my husband here last week, and we've already returned for a second trip, and I'll probably be back next week too.

The cheese plate was exquisite ($15)...the pate, oh so yummy ($9)...beef wellington ($25ish) was cooked to perfection.
Drink prices are reasonable. The atmosphere is very quaint, and romantic.

  • Visited September 2011
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Kimi F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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