It had been a minute since I last visited Ardeo + Bardeo in Cleveland Park, and the addition of Chef Kelly Bunkers signaled to me it was high time I returned to this Knightsbridge Restaurant Group classic.
Ardeo has always been a modern American restaurant, and the addition of Bunkers does not depart from this theme, but rather gives the menu a much needed facelift. The current menu is divided into sections of soups and salads, small bites, snacks, cheeses, and flatbreads, all of which are great for sharing and wetting your appetite for your entree. The impeccable wine list is a great complement to everything on the menu; but you may want to start your meal with a cocktail and something from the the snacks menu, which offers items like spiced nuts, olives, and deviled eggs.
My favorite sharing plate was the flatbread: a crusty base proved the perfect palate for colorful veggies and heaps of melted cheese. The salads were also fantastic, showcasing the best of the season’s produce. I sampled the beet and burrata salad (you can’t go wrong with burrata), broccolini and quinoa salad that is drenched in the most luxurious buttermilk dressing, and a mixed green salad. A silky pea soup may have been the best of all; the peas and ramps are just screaming springtime.
Despite being completely full I was still able to enjoy housemade strozzapreti pasta, tossed with asparagus and smothered in cheese and crème fraiche. The creamy, basil-infused creme fraiche sauce and mounds of melted cheese turned the dish a into a decadent experience, uber comforting and perfect with a glass of wine. On the side, I managed to find room for thick, hearty polenta with mushrooms, Brussels sprouts with peanuts, grilled and perfectly seasoned asparagus spears, and peas in a silky, velvety smooth mascarpone sauce.
Cleveland Park may not be on your radar, but Ardeo + Bardeo needs to be.