Ardeo+Bardeo (3311 Connecticut Ave N.W.) is located in the historic district of Cleveland Park and has long been a neighborhood favorite. In November 2010, this modern Bistro and wine bar underwent a major renovation that united the two spaces with a gorgeous 24-seat island bar. More recently Chef Matt Kuhn joined the Ardeo+Bardeo team.
Kuhn’s restaurant career started when he was just 15 years old when he began washing dishes at a small family owned Greek restaurant. He then worked as a kitchen manager in college as he earned his bachelor’s degree in restaurant management. After graduation he took a position in Lake Placid, N.Y., where he worked under acclaimed chef Brian Moyers. Kuhn was also part of the culinary team at Fig when Chef Mike Lata captured his James Beard Award. Most recently Kuhn was working at D.C. Coast (1401 K Street N.W.) before he took his new position at Ardeo+Bardeo.
Ardeo+Bardeo has received much critical acclaim over the years and in January, Washingtonian Magazine named it one of Washington’s 100 Best Restaurants. With a well-seasoned chef, I was expecting a great deal from this acclaimed restaurant. When we arrived, we gathered around the large island bar that dominates the space while they prepared our table. We were having a late dinner at 9:30 p.m. so the restaurant wasn’t packed but there was still some activity. It felt very much like the popular neighborhood establishment I was expecting.
As the five of us perused the menu, we decided to order a couple appetizers prior to the main dishes and of course, a bottle of wine from the impressive list. For our appetizers we chose the “Poutine” Fries, which are fries and a pimento cheese fondue. This dish sadly had little more flavor then a melted down processed cheese log. We also tried the Southern style Deviled Eggs, which were luscious with caviar, beet mousse and crispy capers. I was hoping to have the Duck Confit Pizza as an appetizer as well, but I was outvoted, although it may have been a better option than the cheese fries.
Our entrée selection skipped around the menu a bit with some of us ordering salads, some pasta, and some seafood and meat. I ordered the Roman-style gnocchi with a Bolognese sauce and parmesan. The dish was not what you expect from gnocchi but it was a light and fluffy dish that I truly enjoyed.
The seared Atlantic swordfish with a Meyers lemon emulsion was beautifully cooked and quite tasty. The grilled Moulard Duck breast was perfectly prepared, which is no easy task, however the chestnut risotto was grainy and overall had a displeasing dry and earthy texture.
The hand cut pappadelle with braised veal breast was an interesting dish, but instead of the veal being tender, it was chewy and stringy. Overall, we experienced a very mixed meal with some excellent dishes making their way to our table, as well as some sub-standard dishes. Unfortunately, due to the below standard dishes, we all left Ardeo+Bardeo slightly disappointed.
Ardeo+Bardeo has a great history and it will continue to serve excellent dishes and be a virtual who’s who of Washington, while still maintaining its neighborhood feel. Kuhn has a great deal of experience and I trust that while some of the dishes were misses on this visit, the consistency will improve. Overall, a mixed review on this occasion, but I hope to return shortly and be blown away.