Exclusive Online Review: WHINO

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Do you want to feel really old? Sit at the bar at WHINO. Want to forget your worries? Order a cocktail, then a meal, a ritual that will make you at one with the almost unbearably trendy setting.

Yes, it’s mostly a crowd of young people who brave the noisy atmosphere of the gallery, but a Can I Speak to Your Manager?, A drink that combines elderflower liqueur, cucumber juice and ginger syrup, helps a invited to relax in the evening. And you are not alone. On a recent Saturday night, WHINO threw a party for its 52nd birthday, a sure sign that the young at heart are welcome too.

Owner Shane Pomajambo told me in June, the same month that WHINO opened, that his goal was to create an immersive experience, combining visual art and artistry from the rest of his team. “Chef, mixologist, sommelier, they are all creatives. We host these creators in one space, ”he said. And he succeeded. While not all of the dishes that come out of the kitchen of Eleftherios “Terry” Natas are breathtaking, the food is both more interesting and better prepared than it should be in such a setting. It is indeed possible that a clientele will develop as much (or even more) for the food as for the atmosphere.

“There’s a bit of it on our menu for everyone,” Natas told me, and for once it’s not just a marketing pitch. Whether your team is into oyster shooters flavored with spicy mango, pickled Fresno pepper and tequila, or the chef’s interpretation of a crispy seafood paella, variety is definitely the hallmark of menu factory. The items are broken down into “cold cuts”, “crudos”, “small plates” and “to share” sections, but really, all are best if shared with a friend or two.

The charcuterie is neat on site and is more exotic than the salumi found in most other restaurants in the region. For me, the star is Wagyu Beef Bresaola, a heavily marbled version of air-dried beef that gets a hint of funk. There is also 18-month-ripened Serrano jamon, smoked duck breast and wild boar-based lonza. I accompanied my meats with a slice of Truffle Tremor, an earthy goat cheese from Cypress Grove Chevre in California that is reminiscent of the texture of brie. Whether you choose a meat or a cheese, or a platter full of them, the wooden board your selections arrive on is filled with toasted cranberry and nut baguette rings, pickled veggies, mixed nuts, honey. of truffle and mostarda with sweet dates.

Charred Tuna and Avocado Crudo, $ 16 (Photo by Alice Levitt)

At a time when charcuterie boards are often considered the centerpiece of a meal, WHINO is worth a visit for its exceptional version alone. But that’s far from the only reason to plan a meal there. For example, there is the crudo with tuna and charred avocado. A large serving of minced tuna sparkles with a crunchy allium soy marinade. It is dipped in a layer of mashed avocado which adds its smoothness to the mixture while a guest collects it with freshly fried wonton crisps.

The small plate section contains a mix of sandwiches and small bites, all highly shareable. But chances are, you don’t want to. Not in the case of very light Cheesy Polenta Temper Tots. The polenta cubes are fried crisp, but the inside blends into a corn-scented dream. The queso on the side, made with Oaxacan cheese and chili peppers, with the option to add chorizo, is worthy of a taste, but I found the toddlers to be very convincing on their own.

Telly’s gyroscope, named after Natas’ mother’s nickname for him, might use more sophisticated components like wagyu beef and feta leek smoothie, but the overall feel is of a gyroscope. very tasty you would get from Natas mom, just a little better. And that’s the point. “We don’t necessarily mean that something is the more traditional way of doing things, ”Natas explained. “We mean this is an interpretation of the more traditional.”

Porchetta Roast WHINO
Porchetta roast, $ 16 (Photo by Alice Levitt)

Another example of this is the porchetta, served both on sliders and as a platter. According to tradition, the large piece of pork is made from a shoulder, rubbed with fennel and rosemary, then wrapped in a belly with the skin. This skin is ultra-crisp, shatters when a restaurant bites, just as the slowly roasted center crumbles. It is served over broccoli and roasted potatoes in a blister pack.

The prices are part of the appeal of the WHINO restaurant. This porchetta, big enough for a meal, costs only $ 16. Secret Spiced Fried Chicken, which combines a spice blend created by Pomajambo with Natas’ innovations, costs $ 14 for three expertly fried boneless chicken thighs. The sharp cheddar chips are enough to make the dish worth ordering, but a chewy and crispy buttermilk and cheddar cookie adds appeal. The final ingredient for success is hot honey that wakes up with every bite the already juicy and fragrant thighs.

Another flight? A plate of ricotta gnocchi costs $ 12. Unfortunately, this dish is not as successful as many others. The problem is with the gnocchi themselves, which may look perfect but are disappointingly dense. This is particularly disappointing because the attractive plate is also well scented with its vegetable broth flavored with saffron, its toasted hazelnuts and its burst of grana padano shavings.

Desserts are also better than they taste. Currently there are only two. A crème brûlée, which the waiter said was whipped, had apparently sagged to such an extent that it was little more than a shallow puddle of custard topped with a layer of crispy sugar. A bunch of hot donuts dressed in honey and nuts looks appealing, but lacks the light touch that would make a diner break their diet.

The servers are as young as you might imagine, but are well trained on the menu. It is an honor for them and for Pomajambo and Natas that I left feeling no longer past my expiration date. WHINO will not make you younger, but will give you a new vision of what a restaurant can be.

4238 Wilson Blvd., Second Floor, Arlington

Check this out: Murals by artists like Dragon76 and Woes make almost every surface an Instagram photo opportunity. This does not include the store at the front of the space, where you can buy your own pieces to take home.

Eat this: Charcuterie board, Telly’s Gyro, Secret Spiced Fried Chicken

Evaluation: ??

★ Fair ★★ Good ★★★ Excellent ★★★★ Excellent ★★★★★ Superior

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