American food with a twist

EatBar is one of the bright spots in Clarendon for small plates. Voted one of the Best Bars of 2013, EatBar offers up modern small plates without a big price tag.

The seat-yourself restaurant and bar has an atmosphere that’s cozy and candlelit, but noisy enough that you don’t feel like you have to whisper.  The gastropub lists wine and beer options drawn on chalkboards. The cushioned booths will make you feel comfortable hanging around a while and probably ordering more food until you’re in a food coma.

EatBar features contemporary American food with a few twists that keep the food interesting.

Classic American foods get upgrades with the use of different spices and sauces from different cultures. Like the chicken wings in Korean BBQ or chili lime sauce. My group gotthe Korean BBQ, and we ate everyone single morsel.

 

I’ve got to admit I’m not well versed the names of foods from different cultures so there were a few items on the menu that I had to google on my phone before deciding whether or not I wanted to order them.

Including the pupusa, which sounded delicious once I knew that it was a stuffed Salvadoran corn tortilla that’s traditionally stuffed with cheese, beans and pork. EatBars version is filled with duck confit and black bean-avacdo salsa. The group also split the market steak topped with chimichurri.

The vegetable section of the menu is a highlight. Sometimes cooked veggies can be chewy or soggy, but the Brussel sprouts with parmesan cheese and bacon made me think that I would’ve always eaten my vegetables as a kid if they tasted like that.

Like most small plates establishments, the menu isn’t very big and it changes seasonally. No matter what time of year though, you can find an assortment of cheese plates, fresh vegetables and creative snacks on the menu.

For example fatback, a Southern breakfast food staple, gets a new twist with their pig ear chicharrónes even though they’re technically made with different parts of the pig. It tastes just like the kind my grandmother used to make, but EatBar serves up the Spanish version that’s paper thin and includes a spicy kick with the addition of togarashi, a Japanese spice similar to chili powder. If you don’t hail from the South, the mix of salty and spicy is a good treat.

I was the only one to order dessert, but when I saw a banana fluffernutter with caramelized banana pudding and peanut butter crumble – I couldn’t resist. It came in a coffee cup presentation and it was delicious. Whether you like sweets or prefer savory dessert, it’s a good way to round out a full meal.

It’s a place I’d probably go back to again because the food is really well-crafted, especially for the price. It’s simple food with some unexpected dishes on the menu that keep your tastebuds thinking just outside the box.

If you’re in the Clarendon area but not in the mood for small plates check out EatBar’s sister restaurant, Tallula. The adjoining restaurant is a bit more upscale. The atmosphere is similar, but the entrees start at $20.00.

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