Well, as many of you probably know, this week is Restaurant Week in DC. You can get a full 3-course meal (appetizer, entrée, and dessert) for $35.00 at many restaurants around the city. I’m not usually such a fan about going out during Restaurant Week because there seems to be a stigma — waiters seem to think you are just there for the “deal” and that you’d not likely to ever come there again because it may be expensive. Well, any of you that know me, know I love food (how do you think I got this beautiful body?) and know that good service is important to me; I tend not to really make a big deal about the price as long as the meal is delicious, it is what you asked for, and the service is good.
Erin and I were downtown a while back and noticed Ardeo + Bardeo from the backseat of a cab – from the outside it looked like a small, modern place with bit of a rustic flare and really caught our attention. We are never really in the vicinity of the Cleveland Park area of DC, but we often talked about going to this restaurant; when we first saw that Restaurant Week was coming up, this is the first place we looked to make a reservation and what a great idea that was. The menu here is not really pricey enough to get a “deal” for Restaurant Week, but this week is always a good excuse to try a new place and indulge yourself with a delicious meal and dessert.
From the moment we walked in the door until the second we left, our experience was nothing but great. Walking into the dining side of the restaurant, Ardeo, there are only 10 wooden tables surrounded by leather chairs, dark wood, and wine bottles adorning the walls and creating separation from other tables around you. The feel was very warm and welcoming and the staff really embraced that idea. We were kindly greeted by a server, given the cocktail and wine menu, along with the run-down on how Restaurant Week worked with their menu.
Everything on the menu looked delicious – it’s a very modern American menu with items that are not normally on your radar for everyday meals. We decided to start with the Beef Carpaccio and Mussels. The thinly sliced, raw beef was served with a finely chopped Caesar salad topped with a whole anchovy – great presentation and equally delicious. The mussels were absolutely delicious; served neatly plated with a chickpea puree and juices that required sopping (yes, we used the warm, crusty bread that was brought to the table to dip in the amazingly flavorful broth that was left behind). The mussels were far better than any mussels I’ve had, even from restaurants that specialize in this shellfish. What a great way to start this meal!
For our entrees, Erin decided on the Rabbit Bolognese and I got the Steak and Eggs. Neither of us had ever tried rabbit before so we were going out on a limb with this one, but what a treat it was. The rabbit had the consistency and texture of a brisket and was in an amazing, light red sauce served over in-house made ricotta stuffed agnolotti (ravioli type noodles). My ribeye looked and tasted like a perfectly cooked filet and was served with a potato puree, sautéed mushrooms and an “egg in a basket”. There was a very small yolk served in a piece of grilled toast that reminded me of my childhood breakfasts that my mom would make – what a great way to bring a personal story into your dining experience. The overall winner between these two meals was the Rabbit Bolognese; it sounds a little scary but if you get chance to eat here, you have to get it.
And, of course, since we decided to indulge, we ordered dessert… surprise!! Erin got the Chocolate Bread Pudding and I ordered the Chocolate Tort. Neither of these chocolate dishes were too sweet like I expected them to be, they were much more savory with a hint of sweet and were perfectly presented. The bread pudding was moist with a crunchy top and was served with salted caramel ice cream… so delicious. The amaretto flavored, dark chocolate tort was served with roasted pistachios and topped with whipped cream. I don’t normally like dessert and hardly ever order it, but both of these were amazing and a definitely a perfect way to end this great meal.
Before going to any new restaurant, we always check out the reviews on “Yelp!”. If you’ve never heard of this website, it’s a rating and review website for restaurants around the US. This is where I got the general idea for my blog – I wanted a space for my friends and family to see where I’ve been and what I thought of it, a much more personal touch than a public website where people often go to rant. We use this website all the time, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that. Actually, when I drove cross-country from CA to MD with Matt Covin when he was moving back from his luxurious Los Angeles lifestyle, we used Yelp! for EVERY meal; the food we ate on that trip was some of the best in the country and we’re still talking about it… Just ask him about the brisket and white mac and cheese in Oklahoma City, OK or his steak in Amarillo, TX or the appetizers and beer from the small brewery in Little Rock, AR. Anyway, back to my story… Yelp… the reviews on Yelp! for Ardeo + Bardeo were great and people were right on the money with this one.
If you are ever in the Cleveland Park area or are looking for a nice night out, this is a must try. A small, intimate restaurant with items you’re not likely to see very often and a wait staff that is so kind, honest, and specific about the details is the type of experience you should cherish, and you will be able to cherish that at Ardeo + Bardeo! Enjoy!