Friday, August 19, 2011

Local Eats: America Eats Tavern

(This post was originally combined with the post about “What’s Cooking Uncle Sam,” until I realized how long that would be.)

After our lovely tour of the “What’s Cooking Uncle Sam,” exhibit, my colleagues and I went to the America Eats Tavern for lunch. This pop up restaurant coincides with the National Archives exhibit, as our waiter pointed out, “First you go and see the exhibit, and then you come here to taste the exhibit.”

Chef Jose Andres (Café Atlántico) takes inspiration from legendary American cookbooks and other recipes that date from all throughout American history. To quote from the press material, “the menu showcases the fascinating history of our nation one plate at a time, whether it’s the origins of New England clam chowder or the introduction of grapefruit to America. “

Hamburgers? Yep. Po’boys?  Uh huh. Mac and Cheese? Oh yes, please. But these are not your out of the box, poor college student staples. They are fan-cy. Did I mention that they have 7 types of Catsups?  The menu is set up to be more of a tasting menu, meaning that each portion is relatively small, understanding that guests would get more than one course. Unless you are on your timed lunch break, then you just pick one course, become obsessed with the food, and try to budget out in your head how you can afford to come back and taste everything.

I had the Chesapeake Crabcakes with Pickled Watermelon Salad, inspired by a 1932 recipe from the Baltimore Hotel. Easily the best crabcakes that I have ever had, outside of Annapolis; the perfect ratio of crab meat and breading.  The combination of fresh watermelon, pickled rime, and goat cheese, was such a perfect balance of sweet, tangy, and creamy.  How many times can I say perfect in this description? Not enough.

And to add a little flare, I got a bottle of the original recipe Dr. Pepper.

I was, however, jealous of one my colleague’s, Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich. It came with the most adorable ceramic bottle of milk with a straw.  Serious envy.

And to make me more in love with this place; profits gained from the restaurant during the run of the What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam? exhibit will be donated to The Foundation for the National Archives. That means that you can help preserve the country’s history by eating grilled cheese sandwiches and key lime pie. God Bless America.

Being an eatery of the “pop-up” nature, it is only open until January 2012.  The upstairs fancy restaurant part is pretty much booked solid for most of the run. Bobby Flay apparently was there the night before, oohhh.  There is limited seating in the more causal downstairs section. We have no trouble walking right in at 12 noon on a Tuesday and getting a table; however the place was packed with a line forming when we left.

If you are in the DC area, you need to put this on your list. And also, invite me, or at least tell me what you ate, in detail.

 After all, it is for ‘Merica.

Update: just in case you need a second opinion on how awesome this place it, We Love DC, reviewed it too (and they ate the same thing I did!).

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