Capitol Hill’s Balkan restaurant Ambar debuted its second location last month, opting to head to Arlington to serve up mezze, Serbian dishes, and salads.
The Clarendon location, which sits in the former Boulevard Woodgrill space at 2901 Wilson Blvd., has much more variety than its Capitol Hill sister. Some new menu items were influenced by chef Chris Hawkins’ recent travels to the Balkans.
Some of the debut dishes, made with a new wood-fired grill, include a lamb pate, suckling pig, lamb skewers, and a wild boar burger. Hungry patrons can opt for the $35 unlimited food option. The 3,600-square-foot restaurant from Ivan Iricanin, Mihailo Subotic also keeps a focus on Balkan wines and rakia, the fermented spirit.
Read on to hear what customers are saying about the spot. It also got a strong early review in The Washington Post.
The Happy Happy Hour News: Yelper Kelly D. took her kids and “ordered everything on the happy hour menu to get a taste of it all. We were not disappointed. We had the dip, fries, soups, meat, sourdough breads (that tasted like doughy doughnuts), mussels and wines. Can honestly say that everything was really, really good—the kids loved it too!” Yelper Mindy D. notes the happy hour menu has a “variety of drink and food options for everyone.” [Yelp]
The Can You Hear Me Now News: While Yelper Katie F. raved about the “top notch” and “delicious” food, her “only complaint” was the noise level in the restaurant: “I could barely hear our server and I felt like I was screaming across the table until 9:30 pm when the dinner crowd left.” And Yelper LanChi N. agrees, writing it’s “almost impossible to hear the person across the table from you.” [Yelp]
The Second Life News: Yelper Jason H. reports that “if you've ever been to Woodgrill, you will notice that Ambar's layout is identical but much attention has gone into classing-up the atmosphere. Ambar has a kitcheny feel and vegetation growing from gutters lining the ceiling.” [Yelp]
The Best Bites News: Instagrammer @talons_and_tealeaves posted a pic of her dish and writes it was “the best #chickenkebab I've had!” Yelper Paypal P. says the lamb skewer was the “best dish of night” and “had to order it twice!” Meanwhile, Facebook user Zlatko Kaurin says “without a doubt” Ambar was the “best dining experience I have had in Arlington.” [Instagram, Yelp, Facebook]
The Customer Service News: Yelper Dong K. notes that “waters [were] promptly refilled. Manager and owner making their rounds making sure we were happy.” Yelper Voula K. ordered takeout and had “stellar” service on the phone, with the staff going “above and beyond to make sure everything was perfection...even checking with the chef about food allergens!” Facebook user Lefteris Hazapis says “Viktor was the most pleasant and helpful waiter. We talked about our Balkan food heritage all evening!” [Yelp, Facebook]
The What Arlington’s Been Missing News: Facebook user Rachel Howell notes the “this Balkan small plate menu has great variety without being the slightest bit generic...I really hope this is the trend for the neighborhood to focus more on upscale dining and less on ‘bars with food’.” And Yelper John D. says it’s a “great addition to Clarendon. A restaurant that actually focuses on serving well prepared food rather than the influx of places that are only interested in slinging drinks we've seen lately.” [Facebook, Yelp]