What could be better than small plates? How about unlimited small plates? Ambar, D.C.’s first Balkan restaurant, is now offering a special menu option that is sure to please diners who like to sample and sip. Available all evening, seven days a week, diners can feast on unlimited small plates and bottomless drinks for $49 per person (excluding tax and gratuity). For $59 per person (excluding tax and gratuity), guests can add large plate selections.
Ambar, owned by Serbian-born Ivan Iricanin (above) and chef/restaurateur Richard Sandoval, is located in the lively Eastern Market area. We had the pleasure of sampling some of the dishes with a large group of food writers. Iricanin and his staff kept the dishes coming, telling us about ingredients and preparations as we went along. Conclusion: opting for the bottomless dinner (the entire table must order) allows for trying a greater variety of dishes while encouraging sharing of both the food and reviews. Tip: the larger the party, the greater the fun. There’s a two-hour window for this special menu, but that proved to be plenty of time to sample the offerings. Of course, the a la carte menu is also available nightly.
While some members of our party tried the creative and attractive cocktails, I enjoyed the Lambrusco, a sparkling Italian wine that doesn’t show up on many wine lists.
Our feast began with Ambar’s dips: hummus, urnebes ( aged cow cheese), and smoked trout, served with warm crusty bread. While this appetizer alone could make a meal with a drink, we held back. More to come.
The parade of dishes continued. The fun thing about sharing these small plates is that participants can have one taste (or more) and move on to the next offering, passing the dish around the table.
Amazingly enough, we had room for dessert. Four chocolates lived up to its name with a dark chocolate biscuit, dark chocolate mousse, milk chocolate chantilly, along with almond crumble, passion fruit espuma, and a nice scoop of raspberry sorbet.
But the real surprise was something called forest gnocchi, that, truth be told, looked terrible but tasted so wonderful we couldn’t believe our eyes. The dish combined chocolate mousse, bitter orange cake, ground chocolate, orange gelee, tarragon gnocchi, passion fruit espuma with black tea sauce, all mixed together. The end result was delicious and something we would certainly order again.
523 8th Street, SE
The restaurant takes limited reservations and walk-ins are welcome. Open for dinner Sunday through Thursday 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., and Friday and Saturday 4 p.m. to midnight.
Brunch is served on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Ambar is pleased to offer 20% off all meals, including the new Bottomless Dinner Menu, to all Military personnel who show Military Identification.