Ambar, web site, 2901 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA, 703-875-9663 (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [Google+ | WaPo | TripAdvisor |NoVA Mag | Ylp]

A true Balkan restaurant, staffed by many Balkans as well. Given its location in the heart of Clarendon, it is remarkable how authentic this restaurant is. I’ve eaten in most of the Balkan nations (Bosnia being my favorite for food), and this comes as close as you could reasonably expect. It is perhaps more Serbian than anything else. The catch is this: how good is Balkan food anyway? You’re not getting Bulgarian summer berries here, or even the very best Ottoman dishes of Bosnia. You’re getting a pretty good facsimile of something that ought to be a little better in the first place. And that is indeed the catch here. I’ll go back, but I am not sure it will become a regular haunt for me.

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One Response to Ambar

  1. Jeff Withington says:

    What are your thoughts on the economics of offering unlimited food at a fixed price? Wouldn’t you expect that to deter quality since I would expect the restaurant is offering quantity of food, not its quality, as the place’s unique value proposition?

    It’s a big space in Clarendon, too. I’d expect its rent is pretty high. I wonder how they pull off good, authentic food. Maybe the tradeoffs of unlimited food aren’t as steep as I thought.

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