Feb 07, 2008
At the intersection of Washington Boulevard and Pershing Drive in north Arlington, a bright green and red sign emphatically entreats passersby with the simple appeal "EAT." This same sign has been greeting customers for over 25 years to the old Arlington fixture Whitey's, which shut down about five years ago. In its place, Tallula restaurant has been providing Arlingtonians with nouveau American cuisine since 2005.
Housed in the bar area of the now well established Tallula, EatBar is the DC area's first "gastropub." All the rage in London and the more cosmopolitan cities of Europe, gastropubs are built on a simple philosophy: to provide innovative but familiar house made food along with fine brews and vino. Having experienced mixed success as Tallula's lounge the restaurant re-branded the bar early last year, and though they've experienced their share of growing pains and setbacks, the new concept seems to be taking off.
Built on the 'Amuse Yourself' program employed by the restaurant, EatBar's menu shines best with its sizable assortment of 3-bite treats, ranging in price from $2.25 to $6.00. In keeping with the gastropub philosophy, everything is made on premise, all the way down to the condiments. Included in the array of artery-clogging treats are a crispy risotto fritter in a green curry sauce, warm house roasted olives (which I like but my girlfriend finds odd), onion rings with homemade mustard (which we both agree are greasy and sub par), and an extraordinary trio of bacon wrapped figs in mascarpone cheese (which we both would eat a dozen of it wouldn't prompt instant cardiac arrest). The frites are well prepared, crispy shoestrings and make a great snack when paired with a couple of "baby burgers," which are great as long as you enjoy the taste of truffles.
In addition to the apps EatBar offers a simple but well chosen menu of full size entrees ranging from about $8 to $15 dollars (note: for several items this price does not include a side). Vegan dining is right out, but those who eschew meat won't starve: the EatBar salad is a fresh and simple selection of baby greens and shaved fennel, and the grilled cheese panini is gooey and delicious. Come springtime they will hopefully bring back the tomato and cornbread salad, which is an amazing light-but-filling salad, perfectly balancing the saltiness of feta and olives with the sweetness of the cornbread and tomato.
Anyhow, back to the meat. The house made hot dog is easily EatBar's greatest contribution to the DC area's culinary culture. More bratwurst than ballpark, this all beef sausage is huge, with perfect consistency and just the right amount of grease and salt, served in a toasted bun that is actually the right size! Though I've read of people having mixed experiences with the dog, in several outings I have never had one that wasn't plump and fully cooked.
Items come out as they are finished, so if you are one for traditional three course dining, you might be better served elsewhere. However, this breezy sort of service leaves one plenty of time to sample the substantial wine list. EatBar offers a staggering 70 wines by the glass, differentiated by color, weight and style. Prices range from about $7 to $17 a glass and the wine is served in full size Bordeaux glasses at much closer to proper temperature than you find at most wine bars. While there is a sprinkling of restaurant standards on the list, by and large it is an eclectic mix of wines from all over the world, ranging from crisp Loire whites to heavy Spanish monsters. Though there is no real sommelier that I've ever met, the bar staff is friendly and will usually let you sample before you take the plunge. The bottle list, too, is quite lengthy and surprisingly wallet friendly-- I found a 2000 vintage Cotes du Rhone on there a few weeks back that was drinking very well for about $20! The beer situation is unfortunately a bit touch and go, and both beer and wine selections could stand to be rotated more often-- that said, the very breadth of selection will not leave you wanting for something new, as long as you are on the adventurous side.
Problems of drink and food rotation aside, I find myself going to EatBar again and again, not only for the addictive snack foods, but for the fun and welcoming vibe as well. While paper menus may be few and far between, all you have to do is refer to the framed blackboards behind the bar, a cute and innovative homage to your friendly neighborhood deli. Sunday night is movie night, so if you find yourself free on a weekend night and don't want to shell out $10 on a ticket to Hollywood's latest piece of schlock, swing by and see a classic--a glass of Cab is a far better investment in my opinion, and the truffle popcorn and candy are on the house! It’s these little touches and more that make what could be an intimidating venue into a rather comfortable affair-- more reminiscent of Whiteys really than is evident at first blush.
2761 Washington Blvd
Dress Code: Casual
Non-Smoking in the Front Bar, Smoking Allowed in the Back
, Restaurant Reviews
, Wine Bar
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Sep 21, 2006
Recently, I found myself in Bethesda with Amy and Noah. It was the middle of the afternoon and we hadn't eaten lunch yet (God, this sounds like just about every Saturday since Noah's been born). Originally, we intended to go to Divino Lounge but once we parked the car, got Noah out of the car, and walked around the corner...oh crap. They're closed. Son of a...!!
"Way to check their hours Jase...What else is around here?" Amy asked.
Man she gets grumpy when she's hungry. Kind of like me.
I thought about our options for a couple minutes. I was obviously taking to long, because Amy suddenly suggested that we go to Jaleo.
The last time we went to Jaleo, we had a pretty mediocre meal and I was hesitant. It's amazing how one bad meal will do that and so many people, including myself, will write off a place after one semi-bad experience, but we decided to give them another chance regardless.
The good news is everything was very good that afternoon (and the following Saturday night as well), unlike most tapas restaurants, where half the dishes your order end up being boring. My favorite tapa (geez I ate that word) was the duck confit, which is by far, one of the best deals that Jaleo has to offer at $7.50, with a very large duck leg that seems to never end. Sadly, it's on their "temporary" menu, so get it while its still on the menu. Other amazing tapas include the homemade grilled pork sausage with white beans thats salty and well seasoned, grilled sirloin with sherry sauce, or some sinful béchamel chicken and Spanish ham fritters.
The only dish I had that I wasn't crazy about was a surprisingly bland Chorizo sausage. Seriously, Chef Andrés, spice this up a bit. No not a bit, a lot! I mean, chorizo is supposed to be spicy, right? So the menu is still a bit hit or miss. Another disappointment was the pork rib that was almost completely fat. We sent that one back it was so bad.
During our afternoon visit, service was very smooth and we couldn't really ask for more. When we returned again the following Saturday, things weren't quite as smooth, which I remembered from our previous experience at Jaleo. That evening, despite the fact that the service was very rushed, which is understandable, considering how crowded the restaurant was, the kitchen continued to bang out dish after dish.
As far as the wine list goes, there are many options all across the different price ranges, which I can appreciate because I don't always feel like dropping $60 on a bottle of wine. Glasses at the bar are reasonable as well. The slightly tart, yet fruity, Albarino that Amy and I had at the bar was only $8 a glass.
It's easy to get carried away at Jaleo, which can easily be considered a cheap eats restaurant, but also can break the bank if you order a ton of tapas and a more expensive bottle of wine. I can appreciate that though, because it means you have the flexibility to make what you want of the meal. All of our bills were under $100.
480 7th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20004
7271 Woodmont Avenue
Bethesda, MD 20814
2250 A Crystal Drive
Arlington, VA 22202
See Web Site
Dress Code: Business Casual to Casual
friendly rating: 2 Diapers
, Crystal City
, MCI Center
, Penn Quarter
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Dec 26, 2004
Heritage India - Dupont
So far, I've been to the Dupont location of Heritage India twice. Both times I've had some excellent Indian food that I've wanted to write about since the first time I went there a few weeks ago. I just haven't had any time.
To start with, the Dupont location of Heritage is not just another location for Heritage India with the same menu. The first way it is different is with the menu which features a tapas menu that takes up an entire page. Also, some of the entrees are different. In particular, there are a few prawn dishes, a couple new curries and kabobs. Our first night there, we were having a drink at the bar after our meal was over, and we saw the manager having the jumbo tandoori prawns. I haven't been brave enough to try them yet, but they're literally the size of a small lobster. The bartender said it was one of the restaurants specialties.
The second way this location of Heritage India is different from the others is in the area of service. As most of you know, and have commented, the service at the Glover Park location of Heritage India is lacking in some ways. It's almost like they know their food is good so they don't feel like they have to provide good service to go along with it. At the Dupont location, however, the wait staff is gracious and friendly. Your food comes out quick and if they make a mistake, they are quick to fix it. I've heard a few stories from people about rude service from the Glover Park location and I've experienced some myself. But, it's Heritage India and the food is awesome so we all continue to go back...
Also, the Dupont location has a drink menu...but I'd stay away from it. The drinks on it are entirely too sweet. Maybe they thought they needed to make the drinks sweet to compliment the spicy food, I don't know. Either way they're bad. I'm sure they added the drink menu to compete with Indique's drink menu, but there is some definite room for improvement (like the addition of a mango lassi drink like the one I had at Tallula a few weeks ago).
The first time Amy and I went to the Dupont location, we stayed away from any entrees and ordered competely off their tapas menu. The tapas menu features some dishes that I've only been able to get at the Indian Street Food Event earlier this year at Passage to India -- and some more. To start with, they have Pav Bhaji (spelled Pav Bhaji on the menu, but I swore it was spelled Pau Bhaji, but after searching online, it looks like it IS called pav bhaji). It's a spicy vegetable curry served on a few dinner rolls or hamburger buns. We've had this both times we've gone and it was nice and spicy both times. Also, we had some channa masala. It was served identically to the pav bhaji on dinner rolls - It was plenty spicy as well. Let's see, what else did we have...Oh right, the Frankie. The Frankie is much like a wrap that you would see at any chain restaurant around here, but it is made with Indian flat bread, peppers, onions, and Indian cheese, and then grilled. Very Good! It's also available with chicken I believe. Also, we had a spicy chicken curry atop of a polenta cake of all things. This is an interesting idea, and I see that they're working in a little fusion cooking here. The chicken curry is more like a spicy butter chicken than anything else and you can see the red chili floating in the sauce. It actually was pretty spicy and lit us up a bit. "Keep the water coming please!" Finally we ordered some papri chaat. This is something that you can get at Passage to India and Indique. I only discovered this dish at the Indian Street Food Event and have been ordering it at every restaurant I see it at since. You really can't go wrong with this dish unless you leave it sitting around and let it get soggy, but it has tasted pretty much the same anywhere I've ordered it.
If you stick to just ordering tapas, you can get away with a fairly reasonably priced trip to Heritage India - A nice change of pace from our past $100 or more checks. If I remember correctly, our the bill for our first trip ran us about $60 for two glasses of wine and 5 tapas. The tapas all run about $4 to $10. Heritage India (Dupont location only) also runs a special from 5 pm to 7 pm where the tapas are half price with drink specials as well.
Our second trip we actually ordered some entrees and started with some pav bhaji and some papri chaat as well. I tried moving away from ordering curries again and ordered the tandoori rockfish kabab. Unlike the Glover Park location, all entrees at the Dupont Circle location actually come with rice and daal now, a very welcome change in my opinion. (Of course they are probably just charging another dollar or two on every entree to make up for it.) Any had her usual saag paneer and she loved it as usual. Also, my kabob was pretty good. In general, I like fish cooked more on the medium/medium rare side than well done, and the rockfish on this kabab was pretty well done. I guess there is not much of a choice when you are cooking a small amount of fish in a tandoor oven though. On a whole, most dishes at the Dupont location are, by default, spicier than those at the Glover Park location. This is a welcome change because I would always have to ask for the chef to make my food a little spicier at the Glover Park location. Our second trip's bill ran us about $85 and included a bottle of wine, two orders of bread, two entrees, two appetizers, and an order of rice pudding.
So my final judgment is that the Dupont location of Heritage India is a welcome addition to the DC Indian food scene. All I need now is an Indian restaurant to open within walking distance of my place I'll be all set.
Heritage India - Dupont Location
1337 Connecticut Ave
Glover Park Location
2400 Wisconsin Ave NW
Valet Parking: Yes
Dress Code: Casual ( little more on the business casual side though, especially at the Glover Park location)
I'm trying to find the Dupont Locations hours of operation. I will post them when I find them.
Categories: Dupont Circle
, Restaurant Reviews
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Oct 10, 2004
Amy and I went to Bardeo Friday night. It was surprisingly uncrowded. I remember a time when we would walk past Bardeo on a Friday night at 8 PM and there would be a considerable wait for a table. The "swank" of the place has past. I think people are flocking more to Palena's bar...and rightfully so. I expected everyone to be in sportcoats and dress slacks like I used to see, but the restaurant is more casual now. There were people in jeans -- no t-shirts or anything. I was wearing a black sportcoat, a dressy pair of jeans, and some nice shoes. Amy was in some sexy stilettos and a dressy top and skirt.
When I think of Bardeo, I don't think of a tapas restaurant, but rather a wine bar. The wines are carefully chosen to pair well with the food. On the menu, below each item, there is a wine suggestion. Glasses of wine come in full glasses or quarter glasses, so you can taste a different wine with each tapas (is the singular of tapas - tapas or tapa? Eh, who cares.) you order. I chose to just get a glass of Bourdeux and Amy ordered a glass of Pinot Noir. Ever since Amy and I had that great Flowers Pinot Noir at Emeril's in Miami, we have really been into Pinot Noirs. (In fact, I think I am going to go uncork a bottle right now.) Anyway, back to Bardeo. Glasses of wine range from $7-$10 -- not exactly cheap, but their wine selection is way above average.
We decided to order a couple tapas and a flight of 3 cheeses. Don't ask me why they call it a flight. For the tapas, we ordered the antipasto and tortellini. The antipasto came with three types of meats - prosciutto, salami and one I could not identify. Either way it was good. The only thing I wished though, is that it came with some kind of cheese -- you know, mozzarella, pecorino, or something like that. For the $10.95 price tag, I would have at least expected that. I could buy a whole pound of proscuitto two doors down at Vace for that price. The tortellini was pretty average. It was served with parmesian cheese, cherry tomatoes, rapini and mushrooms and was a little undercooked. We were pretty underwhelmed by the tapas.
The cheese flight, on the other hand, was awesome! We got a mixture of sheep, cow, and goat's milk cheeses (they all had fancy names which I am failing to remember). The red wines we had ordered went quite well with them. We were ready to order more, but we decided to wait and order some dessert. Oh, I forgot to mention the best thing about the entire meal - the free (chicken?) paté. I never asked what it really was, but it tasted great and I finished it all with the bread that was on the table.
We asked the waitress what the best dessert was and she recommended apple and rasberry strudel. So we ordered that and some coffee to go with it. About this time, I noticed a considerable dropoff in the quality of our service. Things started to take a lot longer to come out and were timed really poorly. It took a while for the dessert to come out, which is sort of understandable since it was a warm dessert, but it took a really long time. When the dessert came out, the coffee hadn't arrived yet and took another 5 minutes for the waitress to bring it out to us. Who knows, maybe our waitress was distracted by something. She seemed to be talking to the manager for a while so maybe there were some restaurant issues going on. For their best dessert, the apple studel was pretty underwhelming. The pastry dough on the outside was soaked through and not very flaky. I didn't finish it, which is saying a lot.
At the end of the meal, the check was about $75. Considering we only got the equivalent of three tapas, four glasses of wine, coffee and a dessert, I was not that impressed. I think my main problem with Bardeo is the price of the tapas. I can get better tapas at Café Olé for about $2-$3 cheaper and they are much better. That said, Bardeo has a much better wine selection than Café Olé. Basically if you could combine the food of Café Olé with the wine of Bardeo, you'd have a pretty kick @ss restaurant. So in conclusion, If you go to Bardeo, order the cheese and wine. Stay away from the tapas (or at least the tortellini and antipasto).
3309 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20008
Dress Code: Business Casual
Closest Metro Stop: Cleveland Park
Categories: Cleveland Park
, Restaurant Reviews
, Wine Bar
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Mar 01, 2004
It seems lately, that every other new restaurant that opens in The District serves tapas. I'm so sick of them. Places like Jaleo, I Matti, Cities, etc, etc, that charge $8-10 for a quarter serving of a real meal are just starting to get on my nerves. Usually the food is good, but the amount they are charging for a serving that would barely feed my cat is just plain robbery.
There is one exception in the D.C - Café Olé.
Continue reading "Café Olé"
Categories: Cleveland Park
, Restaurant Reviews
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