[Update: Ardeo + Bardeo has closed.]
It's Sunday afternoon, and Chris and I are wandering through Cleveland Park in search of a (very) late lunch. Unfortunately, at 3:15 p.m., we're between lunch and dinner service for most restaurants. No Palena burger or Ripple cocktails for us.
Thankfully, Ardeo + Bardeo will seat diners at this time, offering a limited but satisfying menu of small plates, salads and pizzas. Seating was only available at the bar, but again, no problem there.
There's only three beers on tap, but when one of them is the Victory Hop Devil IPA, a broader selection is unnecessary. The beer is pleasantly hoppy but balanced with malt too. It's not too dissimilar from what we consider our "house" beer (Tröegs HopBack Amber Ale).
We each started with a salad. I thought mine was quite clever: spinach with gnocchi, braised fennel, mushrooms and truffle vinaigrette. I can immediately smell the inviting scent of truffles and I've never seen a salad with gnocchi before; great idea. Chris had the mixed green salad, which I didn't try, but he said it was good, particularly the crouton with mascarpone and lavendar honey.
The pizza was incredibly good. A real find. Pizza is really competitive in D.C. right now, and I had no idea until today that Ardeo + Bardeo deserves a standing in this battle. The soft crust, with just enough char, was a more than adequate foundation for truly amazing house-smoked bacon, cheddar, basil and butternut squash (frankly, it was way better than the Palena pizza we had a few months ago).
This was probably the best dining experience I've had at Ardeo + Bardeo yet. I'm a big fan of the space, modified recently to combine the former restaurant (Ardeo) and wine bar (Bardeo) into one open space with brown walls, exposed brick and a central stainless-steel-topped bar. Palena and Ripple get a lot of ink as Cleveland Park's destination restaurants, but Ardeo + Bardeo is as worthy as a neighborhood gem.