FAIRFAX FAVE SERVES TOP FAMILY STYLE FARE
It has been awhile since we last reviewed Tart on Fairfax Avenue and since then both the dining and drinking menu have been revamped and spruced up. As I’ve said in the past, for people in the know, Tart is a go-to place for drinks and good grub in a cool setting in the heart of the Fairfax District. And yes, it’s the restaurant at the Farmers Daughter Hotel—insert your own farmer’s daughter/tart joke here.
Ever since its remodel, the Farmers Daughter Hotel has been sporting a chic vibe and Tart is the fun hangout spot for locals and visitors alike to eat aplenty and relax like their on vacay. Tart also sports some of the best boozy punches in town (and at ridiculous prices), which creates a great atmosphere, especially on weekends, to chill and spend an afternoon day drinking. Fun fact: if you jump in the pool fully dressed, you’ll get half off your meal—jump in fully dressed with your cell phone in hand and your meal will be free.
During our recent visit for dinner, we started with the ‘Chicharrón’ fries served with pickled date puree and Brussels slaw. These light and tasty fried pork rinds “fries” are a great starter item and perfect for sharing.
Likewise, the Crab-avocado toasts with lemon and hot sauce is a tasty morsel and a must-have dish. The Smoked Trout Deviled Eggs is also a great appetizer dish, as is the Pickled Summer Squash.
Drink wise, the Smoky Paloma, made with one of my faves, Fortaleza Tequila, along with mezcal, agave nectar, lime, grapefruit and egg white is a fantastic starting cocktail, especially if you’re a fan of strong and smoky drinks. This will definitely get your night off to a rousing start.
If you’re looking for refreshing cocktails, Tart makes a really nice Negroni (they also make a really killer Americano—think a less boozy Negroni without gin), as well as a Handmade Pimm’s Cup with Pimm’s, sweet vermouth, orange and lemon. Personally, I’m not a big fan of the Gin Silk, a refreshing mix of St. Germain, soda water, cucumber and mint leaves, nor the Cajun Mule made with Tito’s Texas Vodka, ginger beer and lime, as I don’t like mint and I prefer my cocktails with more bite.
The Scouts Honor, made with High West Campfire Whiskey, apple brandy, orange bitters and sugar cube, and the Applejack Old Fashion, made with Laird Applejack, Whiskey Barrel Bitters, and real maple, are great for fans of an Old Fashioned. I felt the Applejack Old Fashion was a little too sweet for me; it was almost like drinking Maple syrup.
If you’re looking for sharable items on the menu, the Steak Tartare ‘Scotch’ egg, and the Crispy fried Brussels sprouts with chili vinaigrette, lime crème and a sunny-side egg are terrific selections, as is the Beer Braised Shrimp and Grits with Andouille sausage, okra, cheddar grits, maque choux and a sunny side up egg.
For our entrees, we went with the Tart Burger with blue cheese, bacon, caramelized onions, mustard aioli and fries. This is a very hearty and satisfying bad boy burger (although it does cost a whopping $15 so it better be fantastic and filling). I found the Pan Roasted Halibut with tomato consommé, confit tomatoes and grilled spring onion a little dry and—it made me wish I had tried the Crispy skin salmon with fennel puree (sounds so good) instead.
For our sides, I had tried previously tried the White Cheddar Mac and Cheese with white cheddar, shells and a garlic cream sauce, and the Black Eyed Peas with braised greens, both of which are quite delightful.
If you saved room for dessert, I really like the Brown Butter Tart with blackberry coulis and vanilla bean ice cream, it’s sweet and decadently good. I thought the Crème fraiche panna cotta with strawberry tartare, mint and shortbread was too plain and rich.
A favorite thing to do at Tart is enjoy their tasty and potent punches. If you're in the area, consider Tart your punch headquarters. Here, General Manager and Sommelier Mary Thompson serves primetime punches to the masses. A whole sized bowl, which includes an entire bottle of booze, costs only $40 and a half bowl is $25. It's the best boozy deal in town. A weekend favorite is the Whole Family, which includes a whole bottle of vodka, which Thompson describes as "a mimosa gone wild."
Personally, I'm a fan of the Blackballing Punch, which consists of UV Blue Raspberry Vodka (a full bottle if you order a full punch bowl), three parts cranberry, one part orange, a splash of sprite , and topped with blackberries and raspberries. Speaking of favorites, the new Montezuma’s Revenge is a refreshing mix of Montezuma Tequila, lime juice, and Monin Lavender—this one is epic!
"It's meant to be social," Thompson says of the Tart punch experience. "You really are part of a group breaking bread. It's a cool way to do that. 'Pour me some. Give me more ice.'"
When asked what makes a good punch, Thompson is quick to answer. "It's all about the quality of the ingredients. If you have good ingredients, then you don't have the hangover waiting to happen. Everything we do here is ingredient centric. It's just who we are."
At Tart, the American fare is hearty and generous, and the family style approach is always a resounding good time.
Tart Restaurant is located at the Farmer's Daughter Hotel at 115 S. Fairfax Ave. Call 323-937-3930.
Story by: Jose Martinez