Monday, July 9, 2012

EatBar

2761 Washington Blvd.
Arlington, VA 2220
703.778.9951
www.eat-bar.com
Eatbar on Urbanspoon

EatBar is the Siamese twin sister restaurant of Tallula (shares the same kitchen and located right next door, get it? get it?).  I had read on Eater DC that there was recently a chef change at the restaurant and decided to go try it out since it's pretty close to my apartment and I drive by it practically every day of my life.  Now, I don't know if changing chefs, in this instance, is a good or bad thing AND I'm not really familiar with the chefs in the DC area, but the article said that the new chef would be including things like roasted bone marrow and peanut crusted oysters.  Yeah.  Come get some, son.


I remember coming here before and thinking that the place is unusually dark.  They keep the drapes drawn and the lighting on dim so even though I came here this time in the later afternoon/early evening, it was still particularly dark.  It wasn't that this bothered me, just made me curious as to why they always keep it dark.  I made sure to sit by the window to get a least some sliver of light and maybe get some pics.

The menu looks to be just a collection of small plates divided into six types:  snacks, veggies, bits & pieces, land, sea and sweets.   There were actually plenty of items that I wanted to sample like the corn on the cob with chili lime creme fraiche or the homemade pork rinds but unfortunately those two things will have to wait for another visit.  I ended up initially ordering the smoked mushrooms with a blue cheese fondue and shaved scallions, the roasted marrow bone with a peanut & quinoa salad and pickled corn, and the peanut crusted oysters.  Believe or not, those weren't quite enough so after I was done, I tacked on a EatBar baby burger with truffle, truffle mayo and balsamic onions. I also got a cask ale which has always been a favorite of mine with its slightly sweet and comforting notes.

I guess the nature of a place that doesn't serve their items across courses is to bring out all the food at once.  So, the mushrooms, the marrow bone and the oysters all came out together.  I started with the mushrooms since a) I love mushrooms of any kind and b) I'm a big proponent of adding that smoky flavor to anything and c) I wasn't disappointed when I took my first bite of this dish.  The mushrooms still evoked that lush, earthy flavor that you would expect but the smokiness gave it a touch more depth.  The blue cheese dipping sauce was a great cool compliment that I feared may overwhelm the mushrooms but it came out as a subtle note and knew exactly where to draw the line between enhancing and taking over.

I've always loved bone marrow but I had been eating like sh*t lately so I was afraid that the bone marrow would be the first step towards a coronary and yet I couldn't resist ordering it and hoping for the best and that's exactly what I got.  While the marrow is given star billing on the menu, this is really a salad of quinoa (it's a grain, who knew?  i didn't but there's this thing called the interwebs...), pickled corn, and the menu says peanuts, though I didn't notice them.   There was only a little bit of marrow, all told about a teaspoon, and was more of a quiet enrichment to the dish than anything.  This was fine with me as the corn  was refreshingly light, the quinoa provided great texture and you still got just the right amount of savory marrow.

The oysters came crusted with lemon slices and a green onion emulsion.  The menu says zucchini slaw but I say shenanigans since I didn't see any slaw of any kind (but I may not know what zucchini slaw looks like).  I tried one crispy lemon slice and while I usually like all things deep fried, this wasn't my favorite.  The oysters, however, were finely battered with the peanut coating and came every bite came out juicy and sweet.  Again the batter was a great way to add some more depth of flavor but the oyster still remained the star.  The emulsion added just a bit of density but got lost for me most of the time.

I was still hungry so I got the baby burger.  It's basically a slider with truffle mayo, some truffles and pickled onions on a toasted bun.  So, richness on top of more richness with some added rich flavors with a hint of sweetness.  I would write more about it but it didn't last long enough.  So, while I really enjoyed the truffle/mayo/burger combination, what made this unique was the intermittent sweetness that came out of the onions.  If it didn't have that, then it probably would be too much without the much needed balance from the onions.

I was full so couldn't order dessert but I hear that the waffles with ice cream is pretty spectacular.  It seems between that and the pork rinds and the corn on the cob, I have a whole other meal already planned out for my next visit to Eat Bar.  I don't know how much Eat Bar has changed with the new chef but I do know that the menu is full of exciting choices.  If this meal is an indication of what's to come then I'm all for chef changes all the time.  Also, if this is evidence of the type of food that is coming out of Eat Bar then I can't wait to see what happens at Tallula.
 

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