By Mike Goodman

Station 4, at 1101 4th St., SW, opened in June 2011 to much fanfare. Restauranteur Med Lahlou worked with Arena Stage to coordinate the opening of a fine-dining establishment around the corner from the playhouse, catering to theater-goers. But it was more than that. With a gold-painted bar, upscale atmosphere, and comfortable patio, the restaurant hoped to be a part of your date night, family night, quick meals and casual drinks.

Eight years later, with an influx of high-priced restaurants at The Wharf, the food continues to satisfy, the servers continue to smile, and the ambiance remains consistent. The restaurant remains a popular happy hour and meet-up spot for neighborhood residents.

If you can snag a seat on the garden patio for Saturday or Sunday brunch, do it. The season is right to enjoy their numerous planters of herbs, lettuce and flowers, and a sense of being far from the city during your dining experience. The Eggs Chesapeake is satisfying, though I’ll always go for a little more crab. The Breakfast Burrito is heavy on the chorizo but flavored well, and the omelets and pancakes are solid and comforting.

For lunch, it is hard to beat the pizza, which is a lot of food for two people or just enough for a light lunch for two (perhaps with an appetizer). The sandwiches are as advertised, and the salads are fresh. The highlight of brunch, lunch or dinner is the duck fat fries, which the restaurant has served since it opened. They are crispy and flavorful. There must be something about duck fat—Station 4 knows how to fry a fry.

Meanwhile, the dinner has remained fairly consistent and solid over the years. The Braised Shortrib is a longtime favorite, with tenderness and a not-too-overpowering mix of flavor. The burger is tasty (and again, get it with the fries), and the mix of seafood on the menu has never disappointed. While there is no kid’s menu, the variety of pizzas will do the trick.

On price, you can get away with an affordable night out if you stick to burgers ($20) or pizzas ($14-$17), but you also have a range of options on the dinner menu such as a 14-ounce New York Strip ($38) and Sesame Tuna ($38).

While Station 4 is no longer one of a few restaurants in Southwest it remains a mainstay for neighbors looking for date night, family night, quick meals and casual drinks.

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