100 Very Best Restaurants 2013: Liberty Tavern

The Sunday brunch spread at Liberty Tavern in Arlington, Virginia. Photograph by Chris Campbell.
The Sunday brunch spread at Liberty Tavern in Arlington, Virginia. Photograph by Chris Campbell.

Some restaurants are all about grand statements. Others, like
this sophisticated Clarendon bistro, communicate in striking
details.

The bread basket not only resurrects a forgotten piece of
Americana—anadama bread, a wondrous union of cornmeal and molasses—but
comes with butter bearing perfectly deposited flakes of fleur de
sel.
Ethiopian coffee is served French-press-style—with a timer to let
you know when it’s properly steeped.

The menu is informed by the dual identities of chef Liam
LaCivita’s education as an Italian in New England—wood-fired pizzas,
garlic bread with provolone, lots of seafood. His smart embellishments
vault his dishes above mere comfort food: Mussels are ramped up with
smoked-tomato broth and fennel pollen, onion rings are fried in duck fat,
and branzino is made sumptuous with cauliflower purée and creamed oranges.
Don’t miss: Pasta fagioli soup; smoked salmon
with potato fritters; crispy shrimp and Ipswich clams; Vermont pizza
(cheddar, prosciutto, caramelized onions, and apples); tagliatelle with
beef-veal-and-pork ragu; roast chicken with mashed-potato gratin; potato
champ (Irish mashed potatoes) with bacon; Coca-Cola cake. Open: Monday
through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday and Sunday for brunch and
dinner. Moderate.

100 Very Best Restaurants 2013

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