Kapnos Taverna - First Impressions
Last night, on a whim, I dined with my good friend Kyle Schmitz at Chef Mike Isabella's newest restaurant - Kapnos Taverna - in the Ballston corridor of Arlington, VA and was beyond impressed.
Still in its soft opening phase (lunch is currently being served and dinner will start tomorrow, February 2nd), the attention to detail in the decor, service and food was impeccable. The two-level dark wood laden space, which seats 165, and eventually an outside patio with a fire pit which will accommodate 60, has a magnificent bar decorated with boughs of lavender and eucalyptus and an exposed kitchen that allows you to see creativity in action.
Kapnos Taverna, has more of a focus on seafood from the Greek islands, such as Paros, as opposed to its sister Grecian eatery, Kapnos on 14th Street in Washington, DC, which is more meat-centric. Don't fret, you will still find traditional Greek dishes on the menu, such as spit-roasted lamb, spreads like the taramosalta and mezzes like dolmades, which will no doubt whet your appetite as well.
That said, let me take you on my unforgettable and mouthwatering Grecian culinary adventure ...
Not only was it pretty in presentation, but the refreshing gin and tea based cocktail garnished with oregano reminded me of hot summer day in the Mediterranean region. (Now, if you are more a wine drinker, I highly recommend the Malagousia (Moratis Estate, Paros, 2014) - incredible!)
This delicious smoky eggplant-based spread with roasted peppers, walnuts and feta,went perfectly with the accompanied warm pita and by itself. And if you like it that much, you can pick up the recipe card at the front and make it for your friends. They'll love you for it.
Raw Seafood Tasting
This specially-made platter for the evening (a huge thank you to Chef Mike Isabella!) showcased some of the seafood bites that appear in their gorgeous seafood towers: King Salmon Tartar with purple potatoes, mustard, and cucumber, Marinated Octopus with eggplant, red pepper and olive, Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail, 1/2 Maine Lobster, Scallops with apple and grapefuit (typically it's Razor Clams, but they were out of them last night, which was ok with me, since I adore scallops), Marinated mussels with celery, preserved lemon and pomegranate and West Coast Oysters. It literally tantalized all senses. Not featured in this photo were the amazing dipping sauces which included Harissa hot sauce, Tomato-ouzo cocktail, Lemon yogurt, Herb-based mignonette and fresh horseradish.
West Coast Oyster with Mignonette Sauce with a Greek Twist
This freshly shucked sweet oyster was perfectly complemented with the tangy herb-infused mignonette sauce.
Greek Spiced Potato Fries Mezze
Golden brown on the outside and crunchy on the inside topped with a Greek island dressing, these fries will wow your palate.
Charred Octopus Mezze
Two words describe this dish - tender and sumptuous. The skordalia, radish, caper, and red pepper highlight this octopus stunner.
Fried Brussels Mezze
Brussels sprouts are delectable in general, but once lemon, coriander, dill and garlic yogurt are added, delicious becomes phenomenal.
If you are you are choco-holic, you do not want to miss this chocolate sensation that is accented with tahini, kataifi and pomegranate.
If you want something a little lighter and refreshing to end the meal ,then look no further, this citrus-based dessert with thyme meringue and labne ice cream will do exactly that.
Hopefully by the time you've finished reading this post, you've already made a reservation for lunch, dinner or just drinks at Kapnos Taverna. I honestly can't say enough good things about this restaurant. It really left an indelible impression on me and I am already looking forward to returning.
Chef, it was a pleasure meeting you and thank you for your warm welcome!
Jeff, thank you for all of your spot-on recommendations!
Ballston just got a little more delicious and Kapnos Taverna may be one of my new favorite Arlington hot spots ;-)