Bardenay is a conundrum. As for the downtown location, I love the food, but I also love to wear sneakers and be warm, and the airy restaurant is invariably cold and full of tall people.
So I was eager to head to the year-old version of the same joint in Eagle. Both Bardenays are known for distilling their own vodka, gin and rum, which is neato and appreciated, but I'm curious if maybe the booze-construction conditions are why my visits typically remind me of the arctic tundra. Or perhaps the downtown spot just has too wide a front door.
The good news is that Bardenay Eagle's temperature is pleasantly tepid. Bad news is that I am not aged or ostentatiously rich enough to fit in. I don't care much about this as for dining, but take heed: Despite different crowds, both Bardenays are really loud. Decibel levels are in the hundreds, no doubt because the place is jamming this Saturday night. Sneaker girl and three-day-beard boy can sit at the bar or wait indefinitely for a table. We wait and eventually find the perfect table--in the middle of the action but not near the door or the gabinetto.
The place is hip with dim lighting, exposed, high ceilings and a young, attractive staff. We're ready to order by the time the waitress, who looks like someone on the latest Real World, asks for our drink order. We barely mention that we want the calamari appetizer before she jumps to the old, besweatered folks that just sat at the next table.
As for us? Well, we scarf the small, O-style fried squid. It's delicious in the zesty dip, but we're still looking forward to our meals. Beard boy is famished (because he spent the day vigorously remodeling his kitchen, not because he was last in the bread line) and actually eats the ornamental slaw too.
We flag down the waitress and ask to order. Did you know they have the same menu as the downtown shop? It's true, but since I'm on a dinner vacation, I skip the usual (salmon sandwich) and instead choose the (rare) yellowfin tuna (on top of a) salad (with pine nuts, olives, peppers, tomatoes, feta and capers in lemony vinegar). Beard boy gets the chipotle chicken sandwich and fries. We also split a side of mashed potatoes.
My salad is perfectly sour and salty and pungent. The sinewy tuna steak on top is rather bland but is a dynamic addition texture-wise.
The chicken sandwich is wonderfully not-too-spicy and overflowing with innards. Beard Boy eventually gives up trying to eat it as a sandwich and starts banging the fork and knife on the table for service. Just kidding. He uses them to eat, like the very sophisticated adult he is.
And the mashed potatoes are also notably delish--chunky and mildly salted. Yum.
We are in and out pretty fast, too, so the storybook trip in Eagle is over quicker than the drive.
Moral of the story: Bardenay in Eagle is remarkably like Bardenay downtown--tasty, creative food with lots of glitzy drink specials and a strangely dragooning atmosphere.
--Jennifer Gelband has rum in her veins. Because she's a pirate