NATIONAL HARBOR, February 22, 2013 For celebrations, business dinners or just the need to cure the crave for a really great steak, Bond 45 brings a Prohibition Era New York experience to National Harbor where the flavors of creamy mozzarella, buttery steak, and peppery arugula make for a perfect steak house meal.
From the teapots above the bar to the small tiled floor, it is easy to feel that you have walked back over 60 years to another era. Dishes to the table are big. Drinks are strong. Staff is friendly, attentive, and ready to please.
Walking into the restaurant, patrons are walked past the open air kitchen where servers dance nimbly around the guests that stop dead in their tracks to ohh and ahh at the aged steaks, mounds of house made mozzarella and burrata cheeses, and antipasti including Sopressata, Bresaola, and Prosciutto di Parma.
Which may be my favorite part of the Bond 45 experience. Plates laden with soft house made cheeses, salty prosciuttos, close to melting burrata cheese and warm salty olives. The flavors mixing and melding with one of my favorite flavors, the crisp, peppery arugulas so popular on the restaurant plate these days.
It all just tastes like Italy, which is admittedly my favorite food place on earth.
Bond 45’s atmosphere of polished wood and warm hues absorb ambient light and sound to create a subdued environment, even when bustling and busy.
It feels classy, rich and full of heritage. Even though National Harbor, and this restaurant, is very new.
Walking through the store, one can’t help but notice the incredible artwork hanging from the walls. Learning that the owner, Mr. Fireman handpicks each piece, most of which come from “starving artists” makes dinner all the more fun, providing plenty to talk about as individual pieces are reviewed.
And there are some incredible pieces from creative that might not otherwise have been seen by an appreciative audience. For the art lover, this is a great dining destination filled with exciting objects and art around every corner.
Food at Bond 45 is fun, though a few Broadway chorus line steps away from the strictly traditional. Chef Jason Mayle keeps dinner lively with dishes like the Fravioli Grandi, large, and by large I mean a healthy 4” x 2” fried ravioli, stuffed with mozzarella and stracchino cheese, then wrapped in a paper thin slice of Prosciutto de Parma.
Not to be missed are the delicacies from the aforementioned mozzarella Bar, including the Burrata Mozzarella, which is a shell of fresh mozzarella that has a pocket of softer mozzarella and rich cream that when opened becomes a buttery mixture that is remarkable with, the theme taste for the meal, fresh, peppery arugula or spread on a piece of crisp bread.
Steaks are offered as either 28 day dry aged or organic-grass fed and many are large enough to serve two, particularly when paired with one of restaurants incredible salad choices, including a favored roasted beets and asparagus with, again, an arugula, walnuts and gorgonzola salad.
When asked what makes for the perfect steak, store manager Sean Michael says, without missing a step, “A real good grill man.” Chef Jason manages that role perfectly and the steak he sent to the table had sliced pieces of T-Bone and Rib Eye, both of which had that perfect steak house taste.
Steakhouse staples are the rich sauces to lather atop the steak. No sauces required here as the meat has depth of flavor, firm mouth feels, though toppings of Gorgonzola, main lobster, and Jumbo Lump Crab along with a creamy Béarnaise or Hollandaise sauces are available.
Cocktails are nothing short of fun and real. Dinner started with a Hemingway Daiquiri, a mix of Bacardi and citrus – grapefruit and limejuice – that was plenty refreshing. Served in a prohibition decoy teapot and poured into a dainty handled cup, it provided just enough of the theatrical to make it fun.
I like a brown spirit and a strong drink and the Whiskey Smash mixed favored Maker’s Mark, orange curacao, mint and fresh lemon juice with just a bit of sweet to make it bright and happy.
Deserts are multi layered including a coconut pound cake that was actually better than my mother-in-law’s - may she rest in peace. Unfortunately the room necessary to even bite a piece of red velvet was unavailable, but it looked incredible. Next time.
The meal finishes, as it began; with extreme hospitality as owner Shelly Fireman sends Limóncello and fresh made cookies to the table to finish the meal, Sean Michael explaining that if you came to the house for dinner, it would not be over without this final exclamation point of flavor.
Pardon me, but I am a purest, and can say I enjoyed the steaks as prepared. Simply grilled to perfection, sliced and garnished with occasional bursts of sea salt, with nothing more than a bite of the fresh house made mozzarella, tomato, peppery arugula and crisp Italian parsley with it.
It may sound odd, but the crisp fresh tastes of the green with the creamy of the cheese and sweet grill taste of the steak is perfect.
Well my mouth is watering right now. Meet me at Bonds 45 (National Harbor restaurant week is March 4-17th) because you never know when I will find myself at the bar, enjoying a Whiskey Smash, anticipating a perfectly grilled porterhouse.
You can say thank you when we meet.
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