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