What is a kit bar, you may ask? Its basically a restaurant where almost all the seating is at the bar and in the entire kitchen is contained in the middle of the bar. Stone's Cove in Herndon, VA is such a place experimenting with this newer dining concept. It provides a casual and social atmosphere where you can interact with your waitstaff while they cook your dinner.
Because the entire kitchen is contained in the middle of the bar, it does provide some challenges with cooking equipment. The limited space makes it difficult to have most of the traditional ovens and refrigerators that a regular restaurant kitchen may have. But they seemed to have figured out some creative space saving appliances, including a brick oven in the middle of the kitchen that has openings on both sides, to ensure that the food they offer is also served up with creative quality yumminess.
We began our meal with a couple "appetapas"...appetizers/tapas/small plates. The first was Lobster Cones. These were not only adorable to look at, they tasted very yummy and fresh as well. They are miniature savory poppy seed waffle cones stuffed with a chilled chipotle lobster salad with basil, guacamole, and tomatoes. I could've easily eaten these all night.
Our second appetapa was Ahi Tuna Sashimi. Fresh, lightly seared, sliced tuna served with an Asian slaw of cabbage and carrots with a creamy chili sauce drizzled on top. Delish!
We also tried Blue Crab Lettuce Wraps. Also very fresh and light but full of flavor. Large pieces of crisp lettuce and fresh crab meat tossed with avocado, mango, red onion, almonds, and agave lime dressing. The dish includes small compartments with other toppings like sliced limes, raw sugar, chopped cilantro, and more agave lime dressing. The sugar was a little odd at first but combined with all the other flavors it was a nice sweet touch next to the sour of the lime and the savory crab and herby cilantro.
Then they have a couple offerings on the menu called "edibations" and they are foods but they are listed under the cocktails. This looks interesting. We ordered the Caramelized Beef Edibations. We were served a plate with four large tasting spoons. Each spoon was filled with a bite of beef that has been marinated in bourbon, gorgonzola, smoked bacon, and green onion. And its all swimming in Maker's Mark...a Kentucky bourbon whiskey...not exactly what we expected. But that's what a food adventure is all about, right?
If you're like me and not used to drinking whiskey, it may be a little strong at first. But you really just have to go for the gusto and take the whole spoon like a shot to experience all the flavors together in their fullness. At first the whiskey is a bit overwhelming but if you let all the flavors sit in your mouth for a second, the whiskey flavor quickly melds with the beef and the gorgonzola and the bacon and the onion to make the most incredible bite you'll ever taste. The whiskey actually intensifies the other flavors and brings a sweetness to each one, including the tang of the gorgonzola.
We were pretty stuffed after all that but couldn't resist taking home a dessert...Smores Flatbread! A crispy flaky flatbread covered with cinnamon and sugar, melted chocolate and roasted marshmallows! Super yumm! A great dessert to take home for later!