Sunday, April 10, 2011

Ardeo+Bardeo in Cleveland Park

We went to dinner with my boyfriend's high school friend and her friend who recently relocated to DC.  Since she's from Atlanta, she was interested in good food, red meat and something indigenous to DC.  Her friend is discovering the highs and lows of dining in DC, and missing the food scene from NYC.  When she asked about recommendations for Mexican joints, I shook my head.  DC has many wonderful things, but good Mexican is not one of them.  With many restaurants fully booked, and Rays the Steaks only accepting walk-ins with an unknown wait, we decided to try the newly renovated Ardeo+Bardeo in Cleveland Park.  I have been a fan of the intimate wine bar for years, enjoyed brunch at Ardeo before, and was interested in seeing the changes. 
The restaurant removed the wall between the two establishments, added a pizza oven and created a sleek, modern dining room.  I like the exposed brick and earth tones on the wall, and the new layout was much more open.  The view of the stairs in the back of the room reminds diners they have a rooftop dining space perfect for the warmer months. Like most restaurants, the limited waiting area leads to patrons congregating around the bar area and creating a bottleneck for the busy servers.  The menu has changed to small bites, charcuterie, cheese, soups and salads, vegetable sides, savory snacks, pizzas, pastas, meats and seafood.  It's a vibrant dining space with a great menu for grazing and sharing plates.  There were some misses in our selections, and I'd prefer trying more from the first two columns next time.
It feels like Cleveland Park has re-emerged as a dining destination with the renovation of neighborhood gems Palena and Ardeo+Bardeo, and the addition of Ripple and Medium Rare.  I hope Indique, Dino and Vace continue to thrive as well.  I would love to see a real ethnic revival in the neighborhood as well, but won't hold my breath since the rental prices are so high in the District. 
 Housemade burrata, farm egg, white asparagus ($8)
The cheese was delightfully creamy, the egg was runny, and the flavors worked well together.
 Steak, horseradish creme fraiche on roasted fingerling potato ($7).
Delicious bite that replicated a steak dinner.  This was the table's favorite item.
 PEI Mussels with orange, chili, basil and garlic ($9).
I love mussels but would have preferred a little more broth.
 Seven Hour Braised Leg of Suckling Pig ($22).
Served with cheese grits, blackeyed peas, redeye gravy, peanuts and pork skin, it was clearly Southern-inspired.  My boyfriend liked the pork skin the best.
 Fried Chicken ($18).
Served with sawmill gravy, biscuit and braised collard greens. 
 Steak and Eggs ($24).
Ribeye with yukon gold puree, roasted royal trumpet mushrooms, and one-eyed susan egg.
Rock Shrimp, Lemon, Garlic and Creme Fraiche Pizza ($16).
Slices of ricotta salata rounded out the toppings.  The salty, citrus and savory combination was good, and the pizza is thin-crust.  The pizzas would be good for sharing.
The bread is excellent and the wine bar vibe would appeal to many of my friends.  My boyfriend wanted to try more of the small bites too, but he was underwhelmed by the entrees.  Perhaps our late pho had curbed his appetite.  Ashok Bajaj owns Ardeo+Bardeo, Bombay Club, Rasika, Oval Room, 701, Bibiana and another Rasika outpost will open in the West End.  It's nice to see local restaurant groups emerging and delivering high quality concepts like Bajaj and Jose Andres.  Both are elevating the DC restaurant scene. 

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