Food & Drink

Balkan cuisine on Barracks Row

Published On 01/08/2013 Published On 01/08/2013

You probably think that Ambar is the stuff that preserved that mosquito that created the dinosaurs that ate Newman in Jurassic Park, but it's not. First, that stuff is spelled with an "e" and second, this Ambar is actually a Balkan-influenced eatery on Barracks Row from the Masa 14 and El Centro D.F. crew featuring postcards/ pictures of old Balkan lining the main wall and a name that comes from the Eastern European building for drying maize, but being the corncob you are, you probably already knew that. This is literally cheese pie. As in goat and aged fromage sitting on tzatziki salad, and topped with prosciutto & arugula. This is not cheese pie. But it is a nightmare for spelling bees, since it's called "grilovani kozji sir" and consists of grilled goat cheese on argula salad with a tomato relish and pork crackling salsa. It would probably take, like, 60 to 70 licks to get to the center of this grilled prune wrapped w/ smoked bacon, even more goat cheese, and a blueberry balsamic reduction you'll likely find raptorous. And no, that's not spelled wrong.

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1. Ambar 523 8th St SE, Washington, DC 20003 (Capitol Hill)

Traditional Balkan cuisine gets a modern update at Ambar, a Capitol Hill restaurant where elegant rusticity can be found in both the decor (wooden beams and shelving line the space) and the menu's hearty small plates. The extensive wine list and rakia-infused cocktails (a fruit brandy popular in Eastern Europe) pair well with Ambar's solid lineup of sausages, flatbreads, and house-baked pies. There's no doubt the meat and poultry section is the star of the menu, featuring dishes like bacon & peanut pork tenderloin, chicken kebabs, and slow-cooked pork with cabbage slaw.

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