As my husband likes to point out, I’m a huge Jose Andres groupie! And after hearing that his pop up shop, America Eats Tavern, would be extended only until July 2012, I needed to take this opportunity to introduce my husband to the amazing cuisine of one of my favorite chefs! So we settled on a date night for Penn Quarter.
Let’s just backtrack for sec and find out what’s so special about this place? Jose Andres is known for his unique take on food to feed all the senses and some of his restaurants, Jaleo and Zaytinya, are filled to the brim with excited diners! America Eats Tavern is a little different, in that it opened up last July to benefit the National Archives. The cuisine literally takes you through American History and you get a cultural lesson as well as appeasing your taste buds and stomach! After being so popular, it was decided that the restaurant would stay open until July of this year. The architecture of the restaurant is a sight to behold. It has 3 levels, an open kitchen and some amazing decorations. It’s definitely a space where you want to linger and take in the full experience.
I had my eye on the pre-theater dinner menu, a three course meal for $35 seemed like something I couldn’t pass up. But after looking through the extensive menu, I had to go a la carte and get a good sampling of food.
We started off with an order of the grilled butter oysters, lobster roll and hush puppies. The hands down winner here had to be the hush puppies. It was an order of about 8 perfectly golden and moist hush puppies served with a butter infused with vanilla. You also had the choice of adding caviar as well. I’ve never been a fan of hush puppies, I always felt that the corn cake was bland and really was filler. Well, I was proven wrong. These delicious bites were perfectly salted and seasoned, and the inside was extremely moist and delicious. The vanilla butter was the extra cherry on top. On the menu, it’s described as house made sorghum butter, but whatever it was, it was amazing!
I ended up with the Saturday night special as my entrée, mutton with oyster and my husband got the BBQ beef short rib. While my dish was satisfying, the beef short ribs were in another world! As my husband put it, it was a dish that blew his mind. The beef has been perfectly braised with the most amazing dry rub and served boneless with a mixture of black-eyed peas, rice and bacon on the side. The beef itself was so immensely tender and you could taste the concoction of dry rub and BBQ sauce. If there’s any dish worth trying, I’d have to recommend this dish. I feel like it exemplified what Jose Andres wanted to accomplish, taking a traditional American dish and putting his signature unique take on it!
We couldn’t leave dinner without getting dessert, so we got their signature de-constructed key lime pie. It was the refreshing palate cleanser to end a wonderful night. The key lime filling was tart, but with the perfect balance of sweetness. It was accompanied by a key lime mouse and whipped cream ball that had a marshmallow-like consistency.
If between now and July, you find yourself visiting Penn Quarter, I definitely recommend giving America Eats Tavern a try. It’s an amazing experience from start to finish and excites all your senses as soon as you walk through the door and will leave you with an a great culinary journey that you will remember!