José Andrés’ newest adventure, America Eats Tavern located on the fourth floor of the Ritz-Carlton in Tyson’s Corner, is all about the story told through food. This story is America’s culinary pilgrimage, and Andrés takes us through with elegance from oysters, to the classic chicken potpie, to the comforting cobbler. Needless to say, we were excited to see what Andrés had in store for us.
To start, we were encouraged to try the Bread Basket – a mix of sourdough loaves, drop biscuits, warm buttery cornbread, and a side of South Mountain Creamery blackberry butter. We were hesitant at first. How good could a bread basket really be? However, we were proven wrong within the moment the basket was set down, with each delectable piece of bread being fresh, warm, and absolutely divine. The last piece of bread went untouched. We’re here to warn that the waiters, while attentive, sometimes whisked away our food a bit too soon. (Or maybe that’s their way to encourage us to eat faster?)
As we waited, we ordered two of American Eats’ signature cocktails, the Green Acres and The Peach Grove, which both featured local spirits and ingredients. The Green Acres, with vodka cucumber, fennel, lime, grapefruit bitters, is an incredibly refreshing drink. Subtly strong but not overly sweet, I decided right there and then that I wanted to drink this cocktail forever. The Peach Grove, with bourbon, peach puree, lemon, and demerara syrup, was sweet and fruity. Definitely a good option if you want a more of a flavorful drink.
We moved on to two of the crowd favorites for appetizers, the Shrimp ‘N’ Grits and the Vermicelli “MAC” ‘N’ Cheese. The Shrimp ‘N’ Grits, with Byrd Mill Grits, Meadow Reserve Cheddar, and pearl onion petals, is an impressive mix of flavors and textures. The well seasoned shrimp alongside the zesty combination of grits had us wishing we had saved some of the bread to scrape up the bottom of the bowl. The “Mac” ‘N’ Cheese is very different than your average bowl of cheesy noodles. More of a latka (potato pancake) in texture, this dish was not the prettiest to look at, however the flavor and delivery of the dish was absolute perfection. Creamy, but not cloying, the Vella Dry Jack Cheese and the cooked thin noodles were perfect. Definitely a dish we will get again. Perhaps next time we will add some King crab into the mix.
For the main course we shared the Braised Beef Short Ribs and Mutton with Oysters. The ribs, in a word, were heavenly. Falling off the bone in rich suckling fashion, the Hoppin’ John, Texas style barbecue sauce could have made anything taste fabulous. Although the plate was small, I was immensely satisfied with the execution of this dish. The Mutton, made with braised Shenandoah lamb neck, fried oysters, cottage fries, and oyster catsup, left us impressed by how well the lamb was cooked. Tender and full of smoky flavor, we found that the fried oysters were a great contrast against the lamb (then again, who does not love something that is fried?)
Somehow, after we managed to plow through 3 courses, we found room to savor one dessert. We agreed to share the Peach Cobbler served in a small mason jar with vanilla ice cream on top. It tastes exactly how it sounds, like home. All that was missing was a second stomach so we so desperately needed.
All in all, there are few restaurants that have earned a perfect score. However, from the laid-back but classy ambiance, to the excellent service, to the incredible dishes, America Eats Tavern earns our praises.
America Eats Tavern
1700 Tysons BLVD
McLean, VA 22102
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