Blue and White, Alexandria, Virginia

I got together for lunch with my cousin, Murray Johnston, recently. You remember Murray, Ann Thomas Griffin Johnston’s husband. His children, Murray IV, aka Cuatro, and daughter Griffin, have figured notably in the Blog. When Murray and I get together for lunch it’s usually at a standout sandwich place, like Bub and Pop’s. This time it was the Blue and White on Wythe Street in what I call Not So Old Town, Alexandria.

The Blue and White is carry-out only. It’s a modest place, but attractive.

Well, some of us find it attractive.

There was a line of people waiting to order. As you can see, it’s very small. They offer very nice personal service for persons with disabilities. (There’s less room inside than in their hearts.) Similarly, there’s no indoor or outdoor seating. The Blue and White is, however, just a short walk from a park with lots of picnic tables, so it’s a great choice for socially distanced dining on a nice day.

Murray and I squeezed in, ordered, received our food promptly, and repaired to the park to see what our orders had wrought.

Murray had ordered a fried chicken breast quarter with hot sauce, green beans, and collard greens.

Murray liked his chicken. It was well fried and nicely seasoned — you can see the pepper — and the hot sauce was a hit. Under rigorous cross examination, he grudgingly admitted that the breast meat had some of that inevitable dryness, but not much: it was good chicken. Murray also volunteered that the beans were not overcooked. Like the collards, though, they were a bit under-seasoned. The extra hot sauce from the chicken helped. I imagine he’ll asked for some hot sauce on the vegetables next time.

I had ordered a chicken leg sandwich ($4) collard greens, and lima beans. I was asked if I wanted raw onions on the collard greens. Sure. And hot sauce? Sure. On (unintelligible). Sure.

Here, let’s open the sandwich.

The chicken leg sandwich was very good. The chicken was fried by someone who knows how to fry food, and it came with some of the hot sauce. It was a great combination, and my chicken leg sandwich was a very good sandwich. Indeed, it may well be the best chicken sandwich in the Washington area. Are there any other chicken sandwiches made with dark meat? Let’s make that the best chicken sandwich with no bacon.

Some people are not familiar with the concept of a sandwich that contains meat still on the bone. You rarely see one around here, and I can appreciate peoples’ consternation. I carelessly ordered a rib sandwich at Pappy’s in St. Louis that had no bones (and an appalling sauce). I read an “expert” who declared that meat cooked next to the bone tastes no better. I skoff, and cite Newton’s Third Law of Experts: for each and every expert, there is an equal and opposite expert. I repeat, the Blue and White makes one good chicken leg sandwich. On the way back to the car I passed a workman sitting on the curb, enjoying the sun, and eating a chicken leg sandwich. I said to him, “That’s a good sandwich.” and he gently but firmly corrected me — “That’s a great sandwich.” Now there’s a true expert.

The collards turned out to be a large serving that was, to my profound dismay, vegetarian. No side meat. Murray agreed. The raw onion helped my collards a lot, and the hot pepper sauce helped more. It ended up being satisfactory and, since I was with family, I drank the pot likker from the styrofoam container. Aah! Hint: if they ask you if you want something with your food, say, “Sure!”, and perhaps ask for “a lot.”

The lima beans turned out to be a soupy mixture of all sorts of beans cooked with ham. Or they may have misunderstood me (there was a bit of a language/mask barrier to communication) and given me an astonishingly thick bean soup. How was it? Just think for a moment about soupy beans cooked with ham. Finished? It was absolutely delicious. Sensational. And, again, it was a generous serving.

My sandwich cost $4. Really. Here in the land of $20 cheeseburgers and $15 ham and cheese sandwiches, I had found a great sandwich for $4. Even at Bub and Pop’s, a half sandwich (more than enough for one person) is $10, not that either Murray or I has ever ordered a half sandwich there. I think the sides at Blue and White may have been $3. These days, with lots of good people out of work or on short wages, the prices at the Blue and White truly temper the wind to the shorn lamb. God bless them.

It’s a shame that the Blue and White has no seating. It’s the sort of place where blue collar and white collar workers could sit down together. Such places are all too rare here in Washington, where wealth inequality is extreme.

Murray and I agreed that we have to go back soon to try the pork chop sandwich, and to explore the rest of the menu. I can’t wait.


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