Monday, January 15, 2007

Ardeo (Cleveland Park)

Original posting date: December 22, 2006

3311 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20008

Tom Sietsema, the award-winning food critic from the Washington Post, gave Ardeo 2.5 out of 4 stars. His description of the food made me drool longingly, especially when he described the lemon and thyme roasted chicken as well as the chocolate peanut butter bomb. Unfortunately, neither were as good as I imagined them to be.

Tom (my boyfriend, not the food critic) and I tried it out last night with three of his college friends. My first impression of the place was: "Woah, fancy." The interior of Ardeo is every bit as classy and stylish as it looks on the outside, with dim lighting and snow-white tableclothes. The staff graciously invited us to have a drink while we waited for Tom's ever-late friends. I asked the bartender to make me something fruity but not too sweet, which he obliged with a tart and yummy key lime martini, one which turned out to be more potent than it tasted. He was appropriately friendly and humorous for a bartender, but only to me; he practically ignored Tom.

When his friends finally arrived, we ordered: the roast chicken for me, tagliatelle (lamb/fennel sausage over papardelle) for Tom, and for his friends: squash ravioli, duck, and the New York strip. While waiting for our food, we nibbled on mediocre bread and a small plate of olives. Tom and one of his friends ordered a beet and goat cheese salad to share, which was thoughtfully arranged on two separate plates. The few bites I had were tantalizing to the senses - creamy goat cheese surrounded with an interesting texture contrast of crushed pistachios, accompanied by bites of perhaps overdressed greens and sweet cubes of beets.

In comparison to the delightful salad, our entrees were decent at best. My chicken was dry and almost chalky. The risotto was an interestingly crunchy farro and parmesan blend, topped with rather stringy chard and a few sun-dried tomatoes. The lemon thyme jus was probably the best part of the meal, without which the chicken would have been almost inedible. Tom's vegetarian friend did not seem full after consuming the one vegetarian entree on the menu, squash ravioli with a mere seven or eight one-inch wide medallions. The duck was a bit tough in texture, definitely not the best duck I've ever tasted (that honor goes to Little Fountain Cafe). Tom's pasta was perhaps the best of the dishes I tried (I did not sample the steak), with nicely spiced and not too gamey ground lamb mixed with fresh-made papardelle noodles, but even that was lacking in one of the advertised ingredients: roasted peppers.

I thought that perhaps the acclaimed dessert chef of Ardeo could compensate for the lack of "wow factor" in my meal, but I was sadly disappointed. A Reese's peanut butter cup, with its slightly salty sweetness, would have been preferable to my overly sweet and fluffy chocolate peanut butter bomb. The caramel-coated popcorn was a cute touch but could have been pulled out of a box of Cracker Jack. Tom's vegetarian friend was again disappointed; his duo of chocolate cakes with a minty creme filling were tasty enough, but the second of the two was hard as a rock and virtually inedible. Surprisingly, the waiter had no response when this was brought to his attention.

Bottom Line: I may try Ardeo again but perhaps only to grab a drink and an appetizer before heading elsewhere in the area for a tastier and cheaper meal.


matt said...

Hey Elaine, good to know of a foodie blog like and Jen are always looking at Ardeo as a possible place to eat. Maybe not now....what day did u go?

Ms. Chompy said...

Yay, my first comment! We went to Ardeo on a Thursday night and it was actually quite busy. Maybe we just ordered the wrong things but overall I was disappointed.