Jump to content

Clarity "Freestyle American Bistro" in Vienna - Chef de Cuisine Nick Palermo Comes from Barrel & Crow


Recommended Posts

1 minute ago, Jonathan said:

Perhaps the photo is misleading, but this looks like quite a small portion, and a bizarre ratio of broth to fish.

it is an appetizer portion but you are correct that the dish could have used more broth.  It was one of the better dishes of the night.

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/9/2017 at 2:06 PM, DonRocks said:

I have it on good word that Jason Maddens is no longer at Clarity.

This would appear to be the case.  He is doing a pop-up this week at Stone Tower Winery and is apparently planning a restaurant in Leesburg to be called Ah-So (as in the two-pronged cork puller).

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm glad that Clarity is nearby but the portions are really small.  Prawn bisque came with one medium sized grilled prawn (which I didn't even get to taste since my greedy first born ate the whole thing).  Lamb rib app came with rib.  Lamb ragout had almost as much ragout as pasta. 

Luckily the menu changes daily, but you'd never know what you'll get until you arrive....

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Went here last night to celebrate turning 40 with my parents and sister, and I must say it was quite good. Didn't feel the portions were small, but then again, most of our apps were veggie-based (easier for a kitchen to make larger). And, must say, all the vegetables were amazing.

For mains, I had the rockfish (yum) but I think my sister's charcoal grilled bass was even better. Could really taste the charcoal, which I like.

Also, the onion bread was the highlight of the breads we were served (plain, onion, golden raisin, chocolate cherry). 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Where would you have lunch in this area?-only constraint is trying to keep it at or under a hour.  I'd love to hear of someplace amazing, but will settle for solid.

Clarity is only about 5 minutes or so from the intersection of 123 and 7 and has become one of our favorite restaurants in northern Virginia.  The menu evolves daily.  Sit at the bar overlooking the kitchen.

Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, dcs said:

Clarity is only about 5 minutes or so from the intersection of 123 and 7 and has become one of our favorite restaurants in northern Virginia.  The menu evolves daily.  Sit at the bar overlooking the kitchen.

Clarity is really good - I especially appreciate the saucing - but it may be the most expensive restaurant in Vienna or Oakton (Da Domenico might come close): Look at the first- and second-course pricing for dinner (I included both the dinner and lunch menus - they also have a happy hour menu on their website):

Screenshot 2017-07-18 at 10.40.18 PM.pngScreenshot 2017-07-18 at 10.42.27 PM.png

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/18/2017 at 6:25 AM, dcs said:

Clarity is only about 5 minutes or so from the intersection of 123 and 7 and has become one of our favorite restaurants in northern Virginia.  The menu evolves daily.  Sit at the bar overlooking the kitchen.

My wino buddies have been trying to work out a date that works for all of us to get here. Thanks for the rec!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I find the $38 lunch special of two courses and a glass of wine to be a decent value for what you get.  I have never been to happy hour but it looks like you can get a burger and a couple glasses of wine (or beer) for $21, among other possibilities, which seems like a reasonable deal imho.

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, dcs said:

I find the $38 lunch special of two courses and a glass of wine to be a decent value for what you get. 

This sentence absolutely floors me. There are only a handful of places in DC where lunch would cost this much.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, DanielK said:

This sentence absolutely floors me. There are only a handful of places in DC where lunch would cost this much.

I would agree this is not an "everyday" spot, but if you ballpark $10 for the wine, I think that there are a lot of places approaching $10/$11 appetizers and $17/$18 entrees for lunch if you are talking about something other than burgers, sandwiches, or pizza.  You can no doubt eat cheaper and well at many places, just not the same.  $38 for two courses and a glass of wine is probably less than what you would pay at Founding Farmers, for example, for appetizer, entrée, and a drink.  Or on par with Amici Mei if you do an antipasti and a secondi.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Went to Clarity this weekend with some friends.  Enjoyed a great dinner, started with some Lamb and Mussels appetizers, and then main course of Scallops, Beef Shortribs and Rockfish.  We each also had a cocktail - everything was excellent & all very moderately priced for such a wonderful restaurant.  We have paid much more for same quality in DC.  Highly recommend if you are interested in dinner in Vienna. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Clarity is in the midst of expanding to add two additional private dining rooms to the one they already have, due to continued high demand for private party space.  I would say that they are doing quite well.  My wife and I are there frequently for the same reasons noted by jsfairfax--moderate pricing in consideration of the quality of the dishes.  I often just get two appetizers, which usually are fairly imaginative, and that more than fills me up most times.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think Clarity may be NoVA's best and most underrated restaurant.  Took the punks princesses to dinner at Clarity before the father-daughter dance.  We shared 5 courses - seared opah, lamb meatballs (not gamy, one of the best meatballs I've had, the kids loved the meatballs and at least one kid loved the grits), venison bolognese cavatelli (again not gamy, was told this venison is only provided to 6-10 restaurants in the whole country, wonderful pasta), bavette steak (both kids loved it), and unfortunately one dish none of us liked - herb marinated pork loin.  Our server  inquired about the leftover pork - a much appreciated gesture.

Clarity changes its menu every day - a practice I would love if I ate there every day.  Unfortunately I don't eat there every day and I wish they would keep some of the more interesting dishes on the menu longer.  Another whinge - wish they're on open table.  Sometimes I forget to book a table because they're not on open table.  

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/10/2018 at 11:00 PM, Ericandblueboy said:

I think Clarity may be NoVA's best and most underrated restaurant.  Took the punks princesses to dinner at Clarity before the father-daughter dance.  We shared 5 courses - seared opah, lamb meatballs (not gamy, one of the best meatballs I've had, the kids loved the meatballs and at least one kid loved the grits), venison bolognese cavatelli (again not gamy, was told this venison is only provided to 6-10 restaurants in the whole country, wonderful pasta), bavette steak (both kids loved it), and unfortunately one dish none of us liked - herb marinated pork loin.  Our server  inquired about the leftover pork - a much appreciated gesture.

Clarity changes its menu every day - a practice I would love if I ate there every day.  Unfortunately I don't eat there every day and I wish they would keep some of the more interesting dishes on the menu longer.  Another whinge - wish they're on open table.  Sometimes I forget to book a table because they're not on open table.  

Every meatball I have had here has been amazing.  Grits are underrated, in a general sense.  Pasta house made.  The pork loin can tend towards the dry side, as it does most everywhere else I have had it.  The menu does evolve, but items do get reincarnated in somewhat different preparations - even on consecutive days.  They post up the menu before service most days, so you can see if your favorites are being plated.  Sit at the bar and chat with Victor.  Still our favorite restaurant in Northern Virginia.  Save some money and go during happy hour between 3-5 weekdays.

Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, Nick Palermo said:

Working on a new menu format, trying to change up the first course, second course, tasting format. Either way I'm starting a shared earth and eats heritage fried chicken entree with sides tomorrow. 

Might have to come on in soon!

Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Nick Palermo said:

I think the fried chicken word is out because we sold a metric f ton of chicken. Also new shared apps of sour and sweet eggplant dip which is really good and Berkshire pork ribs also equally awesome.

I hope posting here has helped you, Nick - that's one of the most rewarding things about running this website: helping people like you.

I don't know if you posted elsewhere, but I wish every restaurant in the area would see the FREE publicity, with no obligation to me or anyone else, that integrating into this community provides. Rest assured that this information trickles down, it trickles sideways, and it trickles up - just about every restaurant writer knows about your chicken by now, and that makes me happy for Clarity.

This community is your friend. Yes, you may get some criticism, but so what? As a whole, we're pulling for your success - Clarity is a fine restaurant, and everyone here wants it to continue being a fine restaurant.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Just all around solid execution as always at Clarity. Soft shell crab ($16) - with ramps! - was crab-forward (as opposed to tempura batter-forward) and the charcoal-grilled bavette steak ($31) - with ramps! - was as good as I've had lately, with some seriously remarkable potato puree that was the smoothness of premium ice cream but without feeling heavy or chewy like aligot.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention some of the really interesting-sounding events they have coming up. Full disclosure, I've never been to one, but they sure sound enticing:

Vegetarian / Vegan Tasting Room Pop Up: Schedule your vegan tasting menu for Saturday June 2nd ($105 all inclusive). 6 new dishes coursed into a tasting menu.

Friday May 18th “Pappy Hour” I know it sounds ridiculous, but we only live once!! Small plates style tasting, come anytime between 5-7pm: Pappy 10 & 12 + Whistle Pig Black Prince Boss Hog / $225 all inclusive.

Friday May 18th @7pm: All Italian Wine Dinner $168 all inclusive. Oh man, are we going to go all out Italian tonight!!

Saturday May 19th @7pm $168 all inclusive: Whiskey and Bourbons from Across the USA Tasting Dinner . Small batches from VA, CO, KY, UT, NY, TX, CA. Purchasing these special spirits as we speak.

Friday June 8th @630pm: Myself and Victor Mendez, Owner of the Vienna Vintner – cooking and wine drinking together for a great dinner / $190 all inclusive. Nothing better than cooking with The Wine King of Vienna!! This is the first of many collaborations with my good friend.

Scotch and Paired Small Plates Tasting “Drop in” Wednesday June 13th / $80 all inclusive. Bringing back this informal tasting format at the bar. But don’t be fooled, we are tasting some very serious scotches. Come anytime from 5-9pm. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
50 minutes ago, MarkS said:

Any recent happy hour experiences at Clarity.  It is mentioned on their web page but no information.  Does it exist?

Yes.  It is definitely happy hour between lunch and dinner service.  When I asked Victor at the bar he said it runs through 7pm.  I have been there several times between 3pm and 5pm and it exists.  Discounts on select wines and beers all at $7.  Small menu of about 5 or six items of the type you might see on the lunch menu presented more simply and typically without much in the way of sides.  All are also $7.  Pricing is current as of about a month ago being the last time I was there.  BTW, if they have the Braised Halibut Stew on the happy hour menu and you do not order it you have no one to blame but yourself.  You are on notice.

I believe Virginia law prohibits advertising happy hour specials outside of the establishment itself, which is probably why the web site provides few details.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

You were absolutely right about clarity.  Small but great selection of happy hour beverages and nibbles.  Victor is a gem of a bartender and I can't wait to go back for a proper cocktail. We sat at the bar at 6:15 and the place was slammed by 7pm.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Had a wonderful and interesting meal here on Tuesday night.  The place was completely packed when I arrived at 7:15, including the private room which had a party of probably 30 in there.

As usual, the menu was filled with interesting dishes and ingredients.  I ordered the foie gras app 1) because I love it and 2) because I feel duty bound to order it whenever I see it on a menu to encourage the chef to keep "weird things" like that on the menu.  It was nice size piece of meat, but I must admit it wasn't nearly as tender and creamy as the much smaller piece that was in a dish at Cranes (more on that later).

We also had the rockfish with fiddleheads and morels (again with the special ingredients!!) and the lamb leg marinated in miso and herbs.  Both dishes were great.  The lamb was super tender and served in slices off the bone.  Photos of the foie and rockfish are below, (the lamb wasn't all that photogenic).

All in all it was a high end "downtown" meal out in the 'burbs.  Message to Clarity:  please open another place in Alexandria!!

 

 

clarity1.jpg

clarity2.jpg

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

FYI, Clarity has gone full take out like many places. If you visit their website, you'll see the menu for the current day. The focaccia pizza sounds nice to me, though I think his thought that a quarter sheetpan serves 3-4 is a bit optimistic. :)

I'm hoping I might be able to go by later this week.  

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought this was just going to be a crappy corona-birthday, but we celebrated by ordering from Claritytogo.com. It was just wonderful!  We opted for the 3 course dinner for $35 which is a great deal. The menu changes a bit day by day, but if they have halibut, I would definitely recommend it. Our fish dish included gnocchi, beets, and spinach and was delicious. Actually everything was really flavorful. They provide great dinner rolls. We received an extra birthday dessert as well. And they gave us cute little cookies which we haven't eaten yet. I'd strongly recommend as the ordering, pick up, everything was super easy. 

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, Al the Pal said:

I thought this was just going to be a crappy corona-birthday, but we celebrated by ordering from Claritytogo.com. It was just wonderful!  We opted for the 3 course dinner for $35 which is a great deal. The menu changes a bit day by day, but if they have halibut, I would definitely recommend it. Our fish dish included gnocchi, beets, and spinach and was delicious. Actually everything was really flavorful. They provide great dinner rolls. We received an extra birthday dessert as well. And they gave us cute little cookies which we haven't eaten yet. I'd strongly recommend as the ordering, pick up, everything was super easy. 

Those cookies are farking good.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/27/2020 at 4:22 PM, Ericandblueboy said:

Thought it might give each other ideas based on where and what you're ordering for take-out or delivery.  

Ordered a dinner from Clarity today — looking forward to it!

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/27/2020 at 4:22 PM, Ericandblueboy said:

Thought it might give each other ideas based on where and what you're ordering for take-out or delivery.  

2nd Clarity order! Picking up a brisket dinner tonight.

Link to post
Share on other sites

We've done carry-out from Clarity pretty much once a week since this all started, having been to the restaurant the week before everything shut down.  The smoked and grilled stuff has been wonderful and the composed meals were actually a great deal.  Fortunately for the restaurant but unfortunately for us, they are now putting  more emphasis on the parking lot restaurant so the carry-out offerings are more limited and no longer as good a value.  The smoked items are still worth getting.  We almost went to the parking lot restaurant this week for my wife's birthday but it's only a six course tasting menu and she can't eat that much at night anymore.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Nested in a nondescript yet neat strip mall in the heart of the city of Vienna, this restaurant is truly a neighborhood gem.

We have been to Clarity a few times in the past, but this was the first visit since the beginning of the pandemic and the phase 3 reopening in NOVA. We were a little hesitant about sitting inside. However, we peeked in and noticed that the restaurant had one of the best organized social-distancing dinner settings we have seen so far, with partitions made of thick fabric curtains between one booth and the other, while also allowing for way over the mandatory 6 feet physical separation among customers. All other sanitary norms (face masks, disinfection, availability of hand sanitizer etc.) were also strictly observed.

The food at Clarity is always a delicious surprise and this time was no exception. We got the Hudson Valley foie-gras, the “carbonara”, and the fall salad as starters, all very well executed and artistically presented. The foie-gras was rich and decadent with the right combination of sweetness and sourness, the pasta was al dente and naturally creamy (namely, without the addition of extraneous fat), the salad crispy and fresh. For main course, we had the venison and the sable fillet, both scrumptious! In particular, the sauce for the venison was outstanding, combining perfectly with the gaminess of the meat, exalting its taste and texture rather than suffocating them.

Service was impeccable, neither distracted nor intrusive. We were even asked whether “everything is fine” only a finite (and appropriate) number of times...

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...