Chef Nate Garyantes is the man behind the culinary magic in the kitchen at Cleveland Park hot spot Ardeo Bardeo. Garyantes comes from a restaurant family and has experience at kitchens across the nation including Shoebird Restaurant in Waikiki, Hawaii, Vault Steakhouse and his own Restaurant 821 in Wilmington, Delaware. Prior to joining Ardeo Bardeo earlier this year, Garyantes worked with José Andres at Café Atlantico. He bitched at us about brunch, Bennys and bunny bouillabaisse from the kitchen.
What does brunch mean to you?
It means a whole lot of work, to be honest with you. When most people are enjoying their weekends, weekends are the busiest time for the people that work in the industry. There’s definitely a stigma that brunch is not one of our favorite things. But, what we try to do at Ardeo Bardeo is create something that is interesting for the guests, but that guests don’t need to think about too much. We offer a $25 prix fix, and you can look down the menu and see all your favorites. But the difference is here we’re making our own English muffins, poaching the eggs specially, doing different things that people can appreciate.
What is your brunch dish?
To cook, right now we are doing a rabbit bouillabaisse that we serve over grilled rustic bread and with soft poached eggs with shaved Parmesan cheese and extra virgin olive oil. I like to cook it because it’s a whole long process that you see come to full fruition over a few days—we’re getting whole rabbits and butchering them, making stock with the bones, and marinating before cooking the dish.
To eat, I’m a sucker for a good Eggs Benedict. It’s my favorite brunch dish. I like making English muffins from scratch. In the kitchen, you’ll see me grabbing them when they’re fresh out of the oven, ripping them apart, slathering them with butter and eating them right there.
How do you feel about D.C. brunch scene?
It’s thriving and popular for the restaurant community, but I don’t get to participate in it very much because I’m always working. I think there’s a great scene—the Tabbard Inn and Oyamel both do very nice brunches. Oyamel is my favorite Jose restaurant.
Tell me about the restaurant scene in Cleveland Park?
What Ashok [the owner] wanted to do with the renovation and hiring me was to create truly a neighborhood restaurant and be a real neighborhood spot. There is a real sense of community here in Cleveland Park. If you look at our menu, we offer an option for everyone on every occasion—whether it’s coming in for a glass of wine and cheese plate or for a four-course tasting menu. I love the neighborhood, I’m happy to be here.
Do you like what you do?
Of course. You have to. It’s a lot of work, a lot of hours, but it’s also very rewarding. It’s one of the most honest ways to make a living—you’re producing food and feeding people—I like to say I make an honest living.
Any upcoming changes happening at Ardeo Bardeo?
We’re gearing up for the Holidays and we’ll have a menu change. Being in the neighborhood, you have a lot of regular guests. We have people that are in two-to-four times a month, so we like to keep it interesting for them. We like to change things on the menu regularly to keep it interesting for everyone.
Check out our review on Ardeo Bardeo, and visit Nate and the gang up in Cleveland Park.