Ardeo + Bardeo, Cleveland Park

The newly renovated, newly combined, sort-of newly named Ardeo + Bardeo has always been something of a forgotten child in Ashok Bajaj’s burgeoning empire of restaurants. It’s an outlier in location and theme, and until now, has also been bringing up the rear architecturally.

The combined restaurant has only one menu, an expanded bar area, and a modern facelift. Having recently lost a key sous chef in Diana Dávila-Boldin to Jackie’s, the menu could have gone downhill – and, in fact, the actual menu (the actual paper menu) is pretty cheesy, but the food?

It’s refreshing to see a 2008 Joel Gott Riesling ($8) by the glass, the dry (something between halbtrocken and trocken) flavors going with a variety of dishes, and in fact going quite well with both of mine. Amber, who was tending bar, was pleasant as always.

From the “Savory Snacks” section, Spanish White Anchovies and Caperberries ($4) was novel, interesting, severe, and somewhat expensive: three caperberries, with a tiny anchovy wrapped around them and skewered – a visciously acidic, three-bite dish that works out to $1.33 a bite. Not bad, and this is only meant to be a cocktail snack.

I’ve never seen kingklip (a member of the cusk eel family) on a DC menu before, so I ordered the Pan Roasted Kingklip ($22) with lemon-caper butter, watercress, and sweet potato fries – an odd combination with three fine individual components, but whose sum was less than its parts: the dish lacked harmony.

This was a good, but not a great, meal at Ardeo + Bardeo – one that calls me back, but only in a whisper.

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