Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Arlington's Mad Rose Tavern

Last month we received a Tasting Table email introducing a new pub, Mad Rose Tavern, in Arlington. Catching my eye was in the email was this:
Enterprising dinner-party hosts should emulate the Tavern's potato chip platter ($6). The chips are snappy, but also delicately puffed and nearly crumbly. Even better, they're concave vessels for the velveteen sour-cream-and-onion dip.
Checking out the pub's Facebook page, I learned that they had 20 draft beers available, and the selection looked to be craft-heavy. We've never been ones to shy away from pub snacks and good beer, we decided to seek them out during a recent trip to Northern Virginia. Not being familiar with the area, and relying on entirely on GPS, we actually drove right by the corner establishment on the first trip around the block. But after negotiating Arlington streets and parking we arrived at our destination.

Colleen and I each enjoyed a Bell's Two Hearted Ale. Another dining companion ordered Original Sin Hard Cider. Unfortunately that selection was sold out so he selected a Magners Irish Cider. When I ordered my Bell's, the server broke out in a smile. I wondered what was up and he told me he liked it when folks ordered his favorite. (I thought to myself, "Okay, he knows beer.")

Naturally, we started off with the aforementioned potato chip platter. The house-made chips were tasty and we all especially enjoyed the sour cream dip. I would have preferred the chips to have been more salted, but that's something I took care of on my own. We were also served a plate of a sesame coated flatbread with herbed butter, both also house-made. Neither platter was left unfinished.

Three members of our party ordered the burger platter. The burger was a thick patty of mildly spiced ground sirloin, with onion, tomato, lettuce and cheddar cheese. The platter was served with a heaping mound of shoestring fries. The burger arrived with no condiments, but a request to our efficient server brought mustard and mayonnaise to those who wished them. The meat was tasty and cooked to the desired doneness, and the fries were cooked to a light crisp. If anything seemed out of sorts, it was the thick, white-bread, sesame seed bun. With the emphasis on fresh and house-made, the generic, and not quite fresh bun, was somewhat disappointing. Hopefully this was a symptom of a new restaurant, and/or a Sunday afternoon stock issue. It by no means ruined the meal, but it did take away a bit from from the overall quality.

Our son ordered the chicken tenders with red pepper gravy and mac & cheese. In watching orders being brought to other tables, this entré appeared to be the most popular dish of the evening. I did not taste it myself, but my son, who's a bit of an expert on both foods, declared it "Excellent!"

Service during our stay was prompt and efficient. We ended lingering over coffee for a bit after we finished our meal. The atmosphere was relaxing and welcoming. When we made our visit, I believe Mad Rose had been opened for just over a month. As we were finishing, the restaurant was filling up, and many folks seem to already be "regulars." The weather was not suitable to outdoor dining when we visited, but Mad Rose has a large outdoor dining area as well. I suggest stopping by Mad Rose Tavern when you're next in the Clarendon area of Arlington.

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