An Early Look at Mad Rose Tavern—With Menus

Diners are already clamoring to get a taste of the eclectic lineup of small plates at this new Clarendon restaurant/lounge.

Rack of lamb with potatoes, green beans, and mint mignonette; the interior of Mad Rose Tavern. Photographs by Chris Leaman.

>>Click here for a slide show of more food and interior shots of Mad Rose Tavern.

Washingtonians often lament the lack of midrange neighborhood restaurants. So it’s only fitting that lots of attention was paid to Mad Rose Tavern before it opened February 17. Eager Twitterers chirped that the Clarendon spot had opened days before its actual debut, and we found a hopeful patron already seated at the bar during a pre-opening staff meeting. Manager Seamus Phillips had to turn him away.  

“It’s our soft opening, so we won’t be going to capacity as we want to ensure everyone gets the level of service they deserve,” reads a posting from Mad Rose Tavern on its Facebook wall. “Baby steps folks, baby steps.”

The team behind Mad Rose—named for Phillips’s 14-year-old niece, Madeleine Rosella—may want to take it slow, but diners are eager to test out the eclectic menu from Johnny Nielson, an alum of Cleveland Park restaurant Dino and the now-closed wine bar Enology. Although the menu is the same throughout the tavern, the saffron-hued, 80-seat front dining room is better suited to such heartier dishes as pork-shank osso bucco with creamy polenta or blackened redfish with grape-tomato salad and dirty rice. The back lounge, with its low, red leather banquettes, feels like the place for the list of 15 small plates, which include tuna sliders, barbecue-duck flatbread, and house-made pigs-in-a-blanket stuffed with brats made by local charcuterie master Jamie Stachowski. The big draw at the bar is a 42-bottle Scotch list. When the weather warms, there’ll be one or possibly two outdoor patios.

For all the excitement, Mad Rose isn’t a novel concept in Clarendon. The nearby restaurants Liberty Tavern and Lyon Hall also cater to Arlington’s young-professional crowd. Like Mad Rose, they have creative cocktails, gently priced wines, and craft beers versus dollar brews. Their menus elevate familiar dishes with unusual tweaks and prime ingredients. Mad Rose—and its wild-boar chili, 30 artisanal drafts, and $4 glasses of wine at happy hour—should fit right in.

Mad Rose Tavern, 3100 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington; 703-600-0500. Open daily 11 AM to 2 AM. Starters and small plates $6 to $12, entrées $11 to $21.

Soups and salads
Wild-boar chili $6
MRT Salad (baby spinach, purple potatoes, pickled green beans, oven-dried tomatoes, slivered almonds, and chèvre with balsamic vinaigrette) $11
Chopped Salad (crunchy chopped vegetables with grape tomatoes, finished with artichoke hearts in brown butter) $10
Asian chicken salad (grilled chicken breast, Mandarin oranges, grapefruit, haricots verts, cashews, and fried noodles over Asian greens with sesame-citrus vinaigrette) $12

Served with crispy fries
Stachowski Italian sausage, peppers, and marinara $12
Hamburger (house-ground sirloin with cheddar cheese) $11
Crabcake (lump crab, Sriracha mayo, and a side of slaw) $14

Osso bucco (braised pork shank with creamy polenta, orange gremolata, and Swiss chard) $17
New York strip (12-ounce Angus beef served with broken potatoes and broccolini) $18
Penne pasta (served with Stachowski Italian sausage, broccolini, and ricotta salata) $14
Fried chicken (battered crispy tenders topped with red-pepper gravy, served with green beans and mac and cheese) $13
Rack of lamb (New Zealand lamb served with fingerling potatoes, green beans, and mint mignonette) $21
Blackened redfish (grape tomato, sweet-onion salad, and red beans and rice) $17
Wild rockfish (bacon green beans and a warm-butter vinaigrette) $17
Baby-chicken mole (pan-roasted young chicken with mole negro and rice) $16

Small Plates
Pigs in a blanket (Stachowski brats wrapped in puff pastry served with Pommery mustard and sauerkraut) $9
Tuna sliders (Southwestern-style with roasted-corn relish, microgreens, and chipotle aïoli on Martin’s potato rolls) $11
Stuffed mushrooms (baked cremini mushrooms filled with goat cheese and shallots, finished with a balsamic reduction) $8
Fried mac and cheese (creamy, cheesy macaroni fried in panko bread crumbs, served with zesty ketchup) $6
Barbecue-duck flatbread (sour cherries and blue cheese) $9
Bratwurst flatbread (Stachowski brats, mozzarella, and creamy Dijon) $9
Smoked-salmon flatbread (smoked salmon, goat cheese, red onions, and fried capers) $9
Vegetarian flatbread (red-onion marmalade, butternut squash, feta, and fried sage) $9
Grilled lamb chop (rubbed in zahatar spice with harissa-apricot sauce) $12
Crab balls (mini lump crabcakes served with remoulade) $9
Black-bean pâté (served with roasted red peppers and crème fraîche) $6
Garlic skewered shrimp and chorizo (served with jicama-apple slaw) $10
Crab deviled eggs (hardboiled eggs with lump crab meat, topped with baby shrimp) $10
Selection of raw oysters (market price)
Chips and dip (house-fried potatoes with sour-cream-and-onion dip) $6

Mac and cheese $5
Seasoned crispy fries $5
Broccolini $5
Roasted fingerling potatoes $5


Best of Wilson Boulevard: Dining

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Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.