On Wednesday night, Jen and I went to this relatively new restaurant and bar in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. First I have to say how much I love that Lawrenceville has been reinventing itself over the last few years. Being back in the ‘burgh for two years now, I’ve been able to watch some of that transformation from a slightly frightening area with a run-down main street to a neighborhood bustling with art galleries, little clothing stores and lots of great restaurants.
On to the restaurant! Tender Bar + Kitchen is located in an old bank building that has been renovated into a sleek restaurant. Here is the description from the website:
“Tender Bar + Kitchen is an American cocktail lounge & restaurant that celebrates a return to the elegant simplicity of a past era. Cocktails are crafted with pride and in the classic tradition by respected professionals behind the bar. The inspired food menu offers soul-satisfying small plates that represent cuisine from all regions of America. Dishes are prepared in a scratch kitchen, with organic, sustainably grown produce, meats, and fish as often as possible. The space is open, the atmosphere warm and inviting, the design a reflection on the elite lifestyle of the early 20th century. Tender draws inspiration, and its name, from the Arsenal Bank building it occupies – a storied financial institution that served the Lawrenceville community, exchanging legal tender for its patrons for over a century.”
Our server told us that they were going to be changing the menu in the next few weeks. I think since they are a relatively new place they were trying some things out to see what worked and what didn’t. Their drink menu was really interesting and one of the people responsible for that part of the menu was also the creator of some very interesting drinks over at Meat and Potatoes. They all have really interesting mixers and spirits in them and equally interesting names. I ordered one called the Penny Farthing, which is kind of weird to say. It had Gozio amaretto, Zaya rum, lemon, orange, egg white and sparkling wine.
I know the egg white sounds weird, but it makes it very frothy. And I had a mixology lesson a few months ago (by the woman who helped create this menu mentioned above), so I wasn’t afraid to try it as she had taught us about a lot of seemingly strange mixers at that lesson.
Most of the dishes here come on small plates so Jen and I decided to just order a few things and share. It was a very random selection, but the menu is still relatively small. We started off with some hush puppies and macaroni and cheese. I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I have a weakness for mac and cheese, it’s a problem, but since it’s not something I ever make at home, I don’t feel too bad about ordering it when I’m out.
The hush puppies were very crisp and not overly dry as hush puppies can sometimes be. The mac and cheese was a great blend of several cheeses. Not being a cheese monger, I could not place them all, but there was one in there with some bite, it was very well rounded.
For our “main” dishes I ordered the lobster rolls and Jen ordered the yaka mein.
The rolls used for the lobster rolls was buttery and just a little crispy. The lobster mixture was flavored lemon and dill, it was very refreshing. The yaka mein was a little spicy and had homemade noodles. Jen’s only comment was that it was a little difficult to eat, not quite a soup and not quite a plated dish.
The online menu has a moon pie desert and we were both very excited to try it out, however it was no longer an option for us at the restaurant. So we settled for the fluffernutter dessert.
It had layers of whipped, creamy peanut butter and marshmallow fluff on toasted brioche bread. It was served with a petite banana mixture. The flavors really complimented one another, but peanut butter always goes well with banana! If you haven’t tried the little banana’s, pick them up sometime. They are much sweeter than a normal banana. We were both full at this point, so while I hated to leave it behind, we could not finish this one.
Overall I really enjoyed my meal here. The overall atmosphere was really good. And aside from the table of doctors next to us making comments about all of the pictures that I was taking, I really enjoyed the ambiance. I’m curious to see what changes they make to the menu over the coming weeks, so this is definitely a place that I will visit again!