Tempo: Where Traditional Influences and Innovative Cuisines Combine
By: CM Leonard
Along Little River Turnpike, just fifteen minutes west of Annandale, you will find an unpretentious but extraordinary restaurant tucked behind awnings and signage of bright fuchsia. Tempo Restaurant serves a combination of Italian, French, and Nouveau cuisines honed from the experience of two remarkable chefs. Chef Serge Albert contributes the flavors and techniques from his homeland, having grown up just twenty five miles from Toulouse, France. Haricot beans, Roquefort, foie gras, along with high quality truffles and mushrooms are frequent ingredients in the local fare of Toulouse. The close proximity to Northern Italy may also explain the dual influence in Serge’s repertoire. Chef Wendy Albert is a California native who highlights the light natural flavors of foods using low calorie sauces and stocks rather than ones based on heavy butter and cream. Serge and Wendy combine traditional influences and innovative cuisines with quality products to insure those dining at Tempo an outstanding culinary experience.
Entering the restaurant you are greeted with a cozy waiting area to one side. On the other is a two seat bar which opens into the main dining room. Further still is a semi-private dining area divided by a wall of glass for larger parties or private parties of up to twenty-five people. During warm days a small outdoor dining patio is available. The rooms are filled with floor to ceiling windows providing warm natural light against white walls filled with well hung pastel seascapes by artist Roy Wolfer. In the Middle Ages Toulouse was home to wealthy pastel merchants who exported throughout Europe the blue dye derived from pastel plants. The paintings can be seen as another fusion between California and Toulouse. A soothing atmosphere permeates Tempo with white linen cloths and napkins, white china in interesting shapes, beautiful flatware, flowers and candles. This is a quiet restful space. Every aspect of the design prepares you to observe as well as savor your meal.
Tempo caters to a significant repeat crowd, all known by name and welcomed as you would treasured friends to your home. The beverage preference of the regular customers (approximately 80% of the patrons) has also been mentally recorded for future visits. The gracious energetic staff engages warmly with the patrons while providing superb service. This is definitely not a tourist restaurant. And unlike most of Old Town, parking at Tempo is plentiful in their own lot. The restaurant is also easily accessible for handicap patrons.
The standing menu consists of dishes Serge and Wendy consider those which they could NOT do without such as the Beef Carpaccio, Sea Scallops prepared with ginger and garlic, Steak Diablo, Medallion de Boeuf Roquefort, and perhaps the lightest most expertly prepared Fritto Misto you will ever savor.
Additionally 14-16 special entrees are prepared weekly to enhance your dining choices. Scaloppini di Vitello Principesa is masterfully flavored. The veal is velvety soft; the sliced mushrooms mellow; the julienne vegetables perfectly al dente; and, the gravy savory and light. Imaginative seafood choices are prevalent and excellent. The mussels in garlic and herbs are a perfect starter and plentiful enough to share. The dessert tray is nothing less than spectacular. Forget that promise to watch your calories. It won’t happen until the day after you dine at Tempo. Tarts, cream puffs, to-die-for tiramisu, pies, cakes, and frosted martini glasses filled with huge ripe berries fulfill every dessert need.
Sunday brunch is held from 11:30-2:30 pm. In addition to the regular menu French Toast, Prosciutto Benedict, three amazing omelettes, and Capellini Carbonara are offered. Tired of the impersonal breakfast buffets? At Tempo you will be served and pampered.
4231 Duke Street
Alexandria, VA 22304
Lunch: Sunday-Friday 11:30am to 2:30pm
Dinner: Monday-Saturday 5:30 to 10:00 pm / Sunday 5:30 to 9:00 pm.