Tysons, it’s where the stores are, but what about the restaurants? Tysons Corner’s two full-scale malls have turned the unincorporated edge city into one of the most coveted retail spaces in the area though its restaurant scene has not kept pace. Long a culinary backwater, Tysons has recently added some promising establishments that hint at a burgeoning restaurant scene, first among José Andrés’ America Eats Tavern.
A little over a mile from the 1st Stage theatre, America Eats Tavern is the perfect place to get some food before taking in a show. Located in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, America Eats does not pretend populism instead shooting for upscale Americana. The wait staff wears dress jeans, guests drink out of mason jars. A clean, white wood-paneled interior, decked out with ship rope and old glory, looks like a Cape Cod house on the 4th of July.
While America’s food reputation seems forever tied to the hamburger, American Eats’ menu explores the country’s culinary heritage, honoring and reinventing traditional recipes. Each menu listing has information on the dish that details history and provenance. Locavores will appreciate the menu’s close sourcing and the regional aspect of its entrées.
As a red-blooded patriot, I started off with the Steak Tartare American, chopped beefsteak mixed with hollandaise sauce, chives and baby radishes. The server prepares the appetizer tableside slicing, dicing and whipping it all together for patrons’ viewing pleasure. The chilled raw meat goes down well when tucked into the warm Parker House rolls that come with.
Another strong appetizer option lies with the Clams Casino, Middleneck clams encased in breadcrumbs and sprinkled with bacon and peppers. The Clams Casino are warm, salty delights that could come straight from the surf topped with a dollop of sea foam-looking lemon air.
The bread basket of drop biscuits and cornbread, smeared with blackberry butter, provided a savory transition between dishes and primed us for warm feel-good entrées.
Ever had a hankering for mutton? Since the last time I saw mutton in a restaurant they were part of the waiter’s hairline, I jumped at the chance for the real deal, ordering the Braised Shenandoah lamb neck. The tender meat takes on an exciting tang when dipped in the accompanying oyster catsup and the fried oysters make a nice companion protein.
Tavern’s Slow Roasted Brisket is not a limited meat and potatoes affair. The brisket needs no knife, coming apart at a fork’s slightest suggestion. Sides of sweet potato, turnips, Brussels sprout hash and puffed wild rice complete the hardy ensemble.
America Eats Tavern rediscovers the roots of the great American cookbook. José Andrés, having brought exotic, small plate tastes to the District through such highlights as Oyamel and Zaytinya, goes big, white and blue with America Eats Tavern and the results go off like fireworks.