Monday, January 07, 2008

Do You Know What It Means To Miss...

Here we go again. Another wild and crazy DC area landmark will soon become a memory.
Tom Sarris' Orleans House is still afloat, a sort of lost island from beyond the 1960s caught for the moment in the maze that makes up deepest darkest Rosslyn. A mega skyscraper will soon take its place- and what a place it was. Tom Sarris took a Giant food store and transformed it into a New Orleans fantasy. Inside you stepped into his world--two stories of wrought iron, Tiffany style lamps and a salad bar modeled after a riverboat. But how did this tribute to The Big Easy get here?

According to my father, Tom Sarris grew up in Washington with Blackie Auger who created his own landmark "Blackie's House of Beef." The Augers went down to New Orleans one year to celebrate Mardi Gras, and Blackie's wife, Lou Auger presided as a queen. When they returned, an addition to Blackie's was created around the dress she wore and dubbed "The Orleans Room." Blackie's success prompted Tom Sarris to make his own "Orleans House," and his old friend gave him advice on the beef end of the restaurant biz.

For years Tom Sarris' bargain prime rib with an all you can eat salad bar was the big attraction here. Both the rich and famous as well as the little guy on a budget liked to dine here. Blackie thought giving away salad was a bad idea, but Tom stuck to his guns. My father always raved about the salad bar and called it "beautiful."

When we heard it was closing, we wanted to go back once more. Everything was frozen in time including one of the waitresses who had been there over 45 years. The salad bar was still "beautiful." The food, I have to admit, just okay, but it was well worth the trip down the rabbit hole. A clock from the Willard Hotel is here. A knight in armor as well. The Orleans House officially closes 0n January 15th so make your plans now.

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