109 South Saint Asaph Street
Alexandria, VA 22314-3119
(703) 683-1776

Columbia Firehouse is located in Old Town Alexandria in the same space as the old Bookbinder Steakhouse.  Walking in I thought I was still in Bookbinders.  If you didn’t see the name out front, you wouldn’t know walking into the restaurant. Almost as if they did not even change anything at all.

The building is nice. It is full of rich woodwork, stained glass and even has a atrium dining room. I was seated in the atrium dining room for my meal. It nice but rather noisy. The service was a little slow and the server had to be asked about the specials (pet peeve). I originally went to Columbia Firehouse with Ryan and Melissa for Restaurant Week, but after glancing over the menu we decided to order off the menu.  There was only one entree that could be combined with one appetizer on the whole menu that could add up with dessert to be $35.09.  To make matters worse, neither of those options were available on the Restaurant Week menu.

For our appetizers we ordered the steamed mussels with Coconut Milk, Curry, Lemongrass & Cilantro and the TRIO OF SLIDERS that inlcuded a Steak & Cheese, BBQ & Firehouse Burger.  The mussels were nicely seasoned and the curry sauce was really nice.  Definitely a must, if you try this place out.  The sliders were good too.  We split the sliders three ways. I had the Firehouse Burger slider.  It was cooked perfectly to medium and had a nice soft roll.  I almost wish it was a full sized burger as it was delicious.

For my entree I had a hanger steak cooked to medium.  I love hanger steaks.  When cooked perfectly this cut of steak is juicy and full of flavor.  It came out sliced on a bed of garlic mashed potatoes and creamed spinach.  The steak came out medium/well but based on its temperature and the hardness of my potatoes, it was probably medium when it was set under the heat lamp waiting for service.  The potatoes developed a crust on them by the time that they made it to the table.  The creamed spinach did not look and or taste creamed.  They were extremely acidic and bitter.  But, they were free with the steak.  I guess you get what you pay for. Overall the steak was nice.  It was a little tough from being overcooked, but it was seasoned nicely.   The only real downfall besides the sides,was the littering of fingerprints all over my plate.  Seeing 4-5 fingerprints on the plate kind of creeps me out.  Especially when they are not my fingerprints.  I know it is a recession and all, but they have to have some towels in the kitchen to wipe the plates with.

Ryan had the CHESAPEAKE WATERMEN’S STEW Fresh Seafood, Summer Vegetables, Andouille Sausage with Grilled Bread & Tomato Aioli.  Ryan enjoyed it, but pointed out that the stew only had 3 little carrot pieces in it.  Far from the summer vegetables listed on the menu.  Melissa had the SLOW ROASTED AMISH CHICKEN with Cornbread Stuffing, Spicy Andouille Sausage, Melted Onions & Fresh Thyme.  She really enjoyed it.  I also have to say that the portion of chicken that came with this order was huge.  Definitely worth the money.

The mussels, hanger steak and two beers totaled $35, $0.09 less than restaurant week and my meal included 2 beers.  It is a very affordable place with good but not so memorable food.  The service was a little slow but the staff was kind and courteous.  While the plates were not wiped down before heading to the tables, the rest of the presentation was rather nice.  The atmosphere is fun and energetic but a little on the noisy side.  It would definitely be a good place for party, but not so great for a quiet date.

As for restaurant week I rate it as a SKIP IT for dinner and a TRY IT for lunch.  Lunch is more affordable and is at more of a price range for this type of restaurant.  Melissa tried it out for lunch and she said that it was delicious and that the Hazelnut & Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream was awesome!!!


I rate this place with 2.5 out of 5 stars.  It is definitely a TRY IT.

For Reservations Click Here

Reviewed 8/29/09

Rating system

  • 5 – Star – HAVE TO TRY IT
  • 4 – Star – MUST TRY IT
  • 3 – Star – GOTTA TRY IT
  • 2 – Star – TRY IT
  • 1 – Star – SKIP IT

Rex is an avid griller, barbecuer and bacon enthusiast. He is the Pitmaster for the Rex BBQ competition team. Rex was also featured on the TV show American Grilled. If you have any questions or wish to have Rex decode your favorite dish, click on the ASK REX link in the menu above.


  1. I agree with most of what you said in your review. I’d also probably give the Columbia Firehouse 2.5 to 3 stars.

    The Steamed Mussels with Coconut Milk were delicious and for only $10 it was a very good deal for how many mussels they gave us. I was imagining a much smaller portion when I ordered the Waterman’s Stew on top of that.

    The Waterman’s Stew was good, but not as delicious as the appetizer we ordered. I probably wouldn’t have complained if they didn’t advertise it as having seasonal vegetables. Putting seasonal vegetables on the menu makes me think big hearty vegetables to go with the large amount of mussels, clams, and shrimp.

    All restaurants have some issues when they first open. Hopefully some of the service issues we experienced will be cleared up on the next go around.

    However, they do feature an extensive beer and wine list!

  2. The beer was delicious. Overall it was a great time with good company. Thanks for inviting me out Ryan and Melissa.

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