Celebration at Liberty Tavern


I got a new job! New digs is always a cause for celebration, especially being able to land a new job in the middle of a recession, especially one that pays significantly more money. My husband suggested that we go to dinner to celebrate. My husband is always very supportive and thinks that my happiness is crucial. So of course I consulted Opentable.com. Since it was a Friday night, and late notice, a later reservation (after 7 p.m.) is a must. I was pleasantly surprised that the Liberty Tavern located at 3195 Wilson Boulevard in Arlington had reservations available. I had heard about the Liberty Tavern in various places. I probably had read a review in the Washington Post magazine, in the Washingtonian magazine, or perhaps during Todd Kliman’s online chat on a Wednesday, or a combination of them all. Not only is it listed on the Washingtonian’s 100 Very Best List, the tavern has a prime location in the Clarendon area of Arlington, Virginia. In fact, it’s right next door to the Clarendon Ballroom and with the large bright neon sign, it’s hard to miss.
According to opentable.com the Liberty Tavern is located in a historic 1907 building that has been beautifully restored and updated.
I have heard that the main draw of the Liberty Tavern is their cherry wood bar. I guess I didn’t realize how popular it was until I saw all of the happy hour goers jam packed into lower level bar of the restaurant. Perhaps I shouldn’t have, since it was a Friday night in Clarendon. It’s always busy on a Friday night in Clarendon. By the looks of the cherry wood staircase, you’d think that you were going to the neighborhood Clyde’s, but up above the “tavern” there is a small open dining room. The dining room was almost completely packed as well. The tables are small and nestled closely together to ensure space is utilized to it’s fullest (Photograph by Stacy Zarin-Goldberg). Despite the tight space between tables, the dining room is open and airy. You can see across the dining room from any seat in the house. Lucky me, my husband and I were seated directly across from the kitchen. I could see Executive Chef, Liam M. LaCivita busy working. I was mesmerized by Liam so much, I think that my husband was going to accuse me of ignoring him. I had a great view, to say the least. I was able to see all of food as it was being plated. The menu is small and quaint, rustic American. I was surprised to see that they serve pizza. Not just any pizza though, wood-fired pizza, which is supposed to make all the difference. I don’t know because I did not order a pizza. For the first course, I talked my husband into ordering the duck confit. I have learned to appreciate the duck due to some pursuing of my good friend, Shabobe. The duck was served with fennel and watercress salad, with lemon-pomegranate marmalade. I was surprised when the duck was served as a drumstick with partial thigh and not shredded like most confit. The duck was moist, not oily and didn’t taste at all gamey, which is why most people say that they don’t enjoy eating duck. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that it was cooked in a wood burning oven. For my main course, I ordered the handcrafted baked Gnocchi with Jenkins orchard apples and squash. The menu had autumn touches throughout. The addition of the apples and squash to the gnocchi was delicious. The gnocchi was strangely tiny and bite-size. In addition I also ordered a fields green salad. I wish that I had ordered something else. I forgot until my salad arrived that I don’t care for field greens. The dressing was a red wine vinaigrette, but needed something else less earthy to cover the greens. I might suggest pine nuts with a shallot red wine … We looked at the dessert menu, but I did not see anything that struck my fancy. I was looking for something like a cheesecake or an apple pie. After all, they said it was rustic American.

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