You get to America Eats and notice that it is Cafe Atlantico with the walls stripped. There are a few hung canvases and the centerpiece, which we wrote about previously, is new--it features hung windows and images from the National Archives. Otherwise it is bare, but not unpleasantly so. There is a certain character to the place, and it is not stuffy - the crowd is very lively.
The first thing you notice is that the menu is very difficult to navigate. The front has two sections "Oysters" and "To Follow." The back has "Soups, Salads, and Sandwiches" and "Meats & Fish" as well as a box describing the large number of catsups they have - from Jack Daniels to Blueberry. Each item on the menu has an historical story below it instead of a description. This is fun at first, but it gets annoying after you realize you don't know what many of the dishes are. It is also unclear how much you're supposed to order or how big the portions are.
The service is excellent. The wait staff is more than happy to walk you through the entire menu item by item, and they are knowledgeable about each dish, even so soon after opening. They are courteous and professional. The wait staff really added a lot to our experience.
We started with the "peanut soup," one of the dishes we had to ask about. It is 100% peanuts. With different types of peanuts in a bowl, most of it is liquid, but there are crushed peanuts and peanuts made into a spread. The soup is served cold. It was interesting and worth trying, but gets to be a little too much after a few bites. It's not something you'd order twice.
We also ordered the gazpacho. The gazpacho was fine, but wasn't really chilled. More "room temperature" which takes the fun out of it. The flavor didn't make up for it.
|The Crabcakes. Two for $18.|
We then ordered our entrees. One in our party ordered the crabcakes, which were pretty standard. Not bad, but nothing amazing about them. The type of crab cakes you'd expect as a minimum from any restaurant, but not the type that are going to blow you away and, let's be honest, we expect to be blown away by Jose Andres.
|Fried Chicken comes in four balls for $12.|
Another in our party ordered the fried chicken, which comes with blueberry catsup. What came, however, were more like chicken croquettes. The chicken was of extremely low quality (we have seen better meat at fast food restaurants) and the fried batter had an odd texture on the inside. The chicken was red and pinkish on the inside, and was very fatty. Here is the fried chicken, which came in small fried balls, cut open:
The meal left us hungry and disappointed. The atmosphere is interesting and the staff is fantastic; but the food makes the entire experience really unbearable.