- Leah Virbitsky
When visiting the Arlington, Virginia area, tourists often search for the "best restaurant" or "best place for a delicious meal" and never know what to expect. Well, locals + tourists - we have a quality recommendation for you. Schedule a reservation for Liberty Tavern in Clarendon as it will not disappoint. We'll get to the reasons why but first here is some history on the restaurant. Liberty Tavern acquired its name from the owner's grandfather's hotel back in Pennsylvania called "The Liberty Hotel". This hotel had a tavern inside that also inspired the current Liberty Tavern bar downstairs in the Arlington location. Fun fact right?!
As for our tasting, we were seated in their upstairs where the atmosphere was a bit more quiet + cozy and allowed for better lighting. Our waiter started the night off with a special "Off the Menu Item" prepared by the chef for those who are VIP guests or those celebrating a special occasion. It's a way for those particular guests to sample a special item that normally would not be found on the current menu and we were delighted to try it. They served us Smoked Salmon over a cucumber with pickled onions and fresh cheese.
It was a tasty, petite bite that we enjoyed very much! I then ordered a glass of Prosecco while we sampled some of their homemade bread. As I've mentioned before in previous posts, Blake and I are huge fans of Italian food and have high expectations when it comes to gnocchi. Liberty Tavern did not disappoint with their Gnocchi Primavera dish. This is one of their signature items and is also vegetarian which appeals to many guests. The gnocchi were incredibly light and flavorful and paired well with the mixed array of veggies (roasted eggplant, tomato, zucchini, squash, olive and basil), topped with burrata cheese. Perfection.
The Chef then sent out a dish of Charred Baby Octopus to sample. I should note that Blake and I are not the biggest fans of octopus but we were pleasantly surprised by how tender and tasty this octopus was. The octopus was served over hummus, kale, fennel confit, black olives and paprika aioli.
We then asked the staff what the most popular pizza was on the menu and they simply replied, "You must try the Vermont Pizza". The Vermont Pizza has been one of the long-standing, original items on the menu since the opening of the restaurant. Therefore, we had to see what the craze was all about. The Vermont Pizza was topped with white cheddar, smoked prosciutto, caramelized onions, apples plus sage. It was unlike any other pizza I've ever had before and the combination of the sweet caramelized onions with the smoked prosciutto and the crispy apple slices made for a delicious pizza. This is definitely a must-try but note that you should split this with someone because it tends to be more rich due to the white cheddar cheese.
Just as we were about to order our entrees, the chef surprised us with one of Liberty Tavern's most popular plates, the Spring Pea & Mozzarella Arancini (or as we called them, "fried risotto balls"). These babies are a must try and were mouthwatering.
We then both opted to indulge in separate entrees so of course Blake ordered the Spicy Maryland Blue Crab & Shrimp Spaghetti because his two favorite foods are crab and pasta so what better way to pair these two together for a delectable dish. The dish was tossed with spring onions, asparagus, roasted mushrooms and jalapeño/almond pesto. He could not stop raving about the delicious ingredients and ended up saving some to take home. The image below does not do this dish justice, you have to give it a try!
I opted for the Scottish Salmon paired with asparagus risotto, oyster mushrooms, cippolini onions and mushroom jus. It was the most delicious piece of salmon I've ever had when dining out and it was cooked just how I like it. It paired extremely well with the risotto and mushroom jus.
Lastly, we had to end on a sweet note as always so we opted for the Chocolate Chip Cookie Skillet topped with sour cream ice cream. I know that sounds so odd, but it was incredibly delicious and we didn't taste anything different! One of the neat specials that Liberty Tavern has is 'Fried Chicken Mondays'! Stop by on Monday for a piece of pickle-brined fried chicken with two seasonal sides plus a fresh biscuit! If you're a fan of southern cuisine, then make this a to-do on your list for a normally boring Monday night!
To learn more about Liberty Tavern or view their menu, check out their website.