When I grow up or, God forbid, get knocked up, I want to move to Cleveland Park. It’s the relaxed, adult version of Dupont Circle, perfect for young families with dogs and toddlers and for those who prefer their city life with a little less noise and a lot more trees.
It’s also a great place to spend a Sunday. On one of the first lovely days of spring, I headed to Cleveland Park for brunch at Ardeo Bardeo and mani-pedis with my Bitches. Well, actually, as it was the morning post-Daylight Savings Time, I didn’t head to Cleveland Park, I groggily hopped, stumbled, cabbed and ran to Cleveland Park as my iPhone alarm didn’t go off (thanks again, Steve Jobs).
I arrived to Ardeo Bardeo fifteen minutes late sans-makeup or hair brushing, flustered and sweaty due to my jog in. Thankfully, Ardeo’s fresh, warm, and tasty trio bread basket and piping hot coffee had kept my Bitches content in my rude absence.
We’d brunched at Ardeo back in April 2010, but the restaurant was renovated in November and we were happy to give it another go. Last time, we ordered the prix-fix brunch—two courses and bottomless mimosas or champagne for $25. We lamented the poor service at Ardeo and gave it a B. On this occasion, we ordered a la carte and were stunned with the service. Luckily, regular Bitch Christina was with me on both occasions to help with the comparison along with fellow Tarheel Lauren.
Right from the get-go, we were stunned with the quality of the service. The waiters and busboys were all highly trained and polite. Says Christina:
“Ardeo always provides the most magnificent service, which is what makes the difference between ‘going out to eat’ and ‘dining out.’ I love that I barely noticed the server and could concentrate on the delicious food and the wonderful conversation. When I did notice the service, it was when they put our plates in front of us at the exact same time, from the left, without having to ask who ordered what. I mean, superb.”
Both Christina and Lauren opted for the vegetable omelet. Lauren says, “The omelet was light and fresh. Sometimes you get an omelet and it has runny eggs or the cheese is super melty. This one was clearly made with fresh ingredients for the perfect amount of time. The potatoes were another surprising item. They had a little kick but were cooked nicely. I was happy with this omelet and would order it again.”
I opted for the frittata with salmon rillettes and hollandaise. In case you were wondering, rillettes is the preparation of meat so that it is shredded and light, similar to paté. This was a really interesting dish, and, again, made with fresh, flavorful ingredients. However, there were three slices of frittata and meager amounts of salmon and hollandaise. The egg frittata was flavorless and boring without the sauce and salmon, so I stopped eating when I ran out—a shame as the dish was otherwise delicious. Why so skimpy, Ardeo?
For dessert, we chose the heirloom apple cobbler with rum raisin ice cream. The presentation of the dish was stunning. The cobbler, served in a ramekin, was warm, rich, and gooey with a perfectly baked, crispy-yet-moist crust. Now, I’m not wild about raisins in my ice cream—I would have preferred vanilla or cinnamon—but the ice cream was surprisingly delicious and paired well with the apple and the caramel drizzled across the plate.
In sum, says Lauren, “The theme of Ardeo should be fresh!” I agree—the restaurant’s renovation is visually stunning, the amped-up and well-trained service was phenomenal, and the ingredients, quality, and presentation of the meal were fresh and delicious.
Additionally, Ardeo Bardeo is affordable—and the dishes on its innovative menu are appropriately priced. Adds Christina, “Where else can you expect reasonably-priced fare with the elegance of a Parisian bistro?” (She spent a year in Paris, so her comparison is just.)
The Bitches say: A-. The service and cuisine were nearly perfect—except for the measly portions of salmon and hollandaise on my frittata. The B+ on this dish brings the overall average down to an A-.
3311 Connecticut Ave. N.W.