By Melissa Groth
I have two words for you: bacon jam. That’s jam, like what you put on toast in the morning, made of bacon. It’s a real thing, it’s delicious, and it’s one of many things that make härth special.
There are also bees on the roof. Thousands of bees. Chef Luc Dendievel braves all those stingers for the sake of fresh honey to put in your cocktail or drizzle over an apple tart (he told me about the first time he met the bees and how about twenty or so of them followed him around for a while even after he left to rooftop where the hives are kept). Less terrifying, but also in a nod to sustainability, there is an herb and vegetable hidden garden from which tomatoes, peppers, rosemary, oregano and more are harvested for the menu offerings at the Tysons Hilton restaurant.
Walking into härth, you wouldn’t guess that it’s a farm-to-table, locally sourced operation. Of course there’s the fact that it’s affiliated with a massive hotel chain, but also the interior of the restaurant is lavishly decorated; the only exposed brick is in the ovens where they make their flatbreads.
I started off with one of the signature cocktails, The Hive. This whiskey drink is made with the honey from the hives on the rooftop, and is delicious, light, and not too sweet. Another great option is the seasonal cocktail, A Bittersweet Ending, made with bourbon, house-made apple cinnamon reduction, and chocolate bitters.
The roasted celeriac soup with creme fraiche is a great place to start, poured over garlicky brioche croutons. The cured pork belly is tender with a great meat-to-fat ratio, situated over braised red cabbage and apples– a great fall dish that should have a bigger spot on the menu than it’s current position under “Small Plates.” Härth is apparently known for it’s house-made flatbreads, so we tried the house-smoked salmon and crab with lemon chive cream cheese and caper berries served over greens. I liked everything about this except the flatbread. I’d gladly eat the same thing on a bagel every morning, but the flatbread itself was too crispy and couldn’t quite handle the wealth of toppings. The braised veal cheek entree is served with watermelon radishes and seasonal vegetables, all plated nicely over parsnip puree on a cast iron skillet. The meat was tender, but I found the parsnip puree to be the true star of the dish.
Härth offers an appetizing array of desserts as well. The apple tart is made with puff pastry that you can watch rise before your eyes in one of the brick ovens. The perfectly cooked apples rest on top of custard, a sizeable scoop of vanilla ice cream sits on one end in a position of authority, and it’s all drizzled with the fresh honey. The honey really takes this tart to the next level. A forkful of creamy custard, cinnamon apples, puff pastry, ice cream, and amazing honey is like a bite of autumn.