523 8th Street, SE courtesy Ambar
From a press release:
“Ivan Iricanin, founder and CEO of Street Guys Hospitality, announces that his landmark award-winning restaurant, Ambar, located at 523 8th Street, SE, 20003, is reopening after delays due to COVID-19. Guests will experience firsthand this neighborhood restaurant’s new look as soon as Washington officials allow restaurants to re-open for in-house dining on Friday, June 19. One can anticipate expanded entertaining options, both inside and outdoors, which are the result of an extensive makeover. In the interim, Ambar Capitol Hill will begin offering its Balkan dining without limits menu for carryout & in-house dining. Reopening for patio dining, rooftop dining and carryout will re-energize Ambar’s employees, putting them back to work with new safety measures in place to keep both customers and employees safe.
Pricing starting at $39 per couple, the new Balkan experience to enjoy at home features slow-cooked comfort dishes and new woodburning grill items with a modern twist from this exciting region of the world. Included are complimentary Freshly Baked Pita and Cornbread; House-Made Pickles, followed by a dinner comprised of a choice of a featured spreads such as Red Pepper Feta; Kajmak; Cucumber Tzatziki; Avjar or Beet Tzatziki; a main course of Beef Short Rib Goulash; Sarma ‘Pork Belly Stuffed Cabbage’ or Wild Mushroom Risotto, plus a choice of two vegetable sides, one potato and one salad including Roasted Brussel Sprouts; Roasted Cauliflower; Yukon Mashed Potatoes; Slow Roasted Potatoes; Hand-Cut Fries; Bakes Beans; Grilled Vegetables; Balkan Salad and Apple Romaine Salad, with Baklava or Balkan Tres Leches, soft vanilla cake soaked in cream, topped with caramel, for a sweet finish. Guests can elevate their dining experience by adding a soup or side dish to their meal for an additional $7.99 per item or select items from the new woodburning grill to include Atlantic Salmon; Grilled Shrimp Skewers; Chicken Skewers; Meatballs and Cevapi ‘Balkan Kebab’, priced from $44 to $50 for two. To complement the meal, guests may select from a to-go beverage list featuring a selection of premium wines from the Balkans and other select beers by the bottle; six-packs of Lav Serbian Lager Beer or Flying Dog Snake Dog IPA, as well as a selection of tea, juices and soft drinks. A carryout cocktail program will also debut in the coming weeks along with select discounted wines from Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Herzegovina and Montenegro. Beverage selections are priced from $5 to $22.
This Balkan dining without limits at-home menu experience is available for take-out or delivery Sunday through Thursday, from 12 p.m. to 8p.m, and Friday and Saturday, from 12 p.m.to 9 p.m. A carryout brunch menu will debut in the coming weeks and will be available Saturday, from 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday, from 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Patrons are encouraged to place an order on-line at https://new.ambarrestaurant.com/.
For those wanting to get out and enjoy being served, Iricanin and his Street Guys Hospitality team has instituted plans for the protection of each valued guest and staff members. One key step is modifying the restaurant’s floor plan to create seating areas at least six feet apart. There will be more limited seating for the potentially vulnerable senior population at special times daily, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Reservations will be encouraged for everyone visiting Ambar, but walk-ins are always welcome. Seating will be organized to afford each guest two hours to dine. For added protection, disinfectant wipes will be provided tableside. Contactless menus and payment options using a QR code will also be available for guests along with hand sanitizer stations that are being incorporated throughout the dining areas. Plastic utensils will also be provided to guests upon request. Employees will be temperature checked when reporting for work and provided with safety measures while at the restaurant. Additionally, Iricanin has also instituted a service called Surface Guard to sanitize the entire restaurant after service each night. Surface Guard is an innovative EPA registered, NSF registered, and FDA approved antimicrobial application service which protects surfaces 24 hours per day, seven days per week for 90 days against the COVID-19 and other pathogens and germs.
Newly revamped lunch and dinner menus will also be available guests. Each meal begins with a generous assortment of Ambar’s Spreads, Charcuterie and Condiments, served with house-made pita bread, sourdough and cornbread which will be presented as guests take their places to begin the feast. Then one will select their next round of dishes from a menu offering 30 of Ambar’s most popular signature mains, with extensive vegetarian options as well. This finely-honed menu will have new additions such as Sudzuk Flatbread with tomato sauce, sausage, kajmak and oregano; Apple Romaine Salad with granny smith apple, red quinoa, ginger and parsley dressing; Lamb Lasagna with Marcho Farms lamb, eggplant, tomato, bechamel and dill; Short Rib Goulash, Wells Family Farms beef, braised for five hours and served with a red wine reduction and trofie pasta; Meatballs, house-ground Wells Family Farms beef, gouda cheese, chili flakes; Grilled Vegetables with kalamata olive tapenade and garlic & herb oil; Grilled Shrimp, marinated with house-made rub and served with capers and garlic sauce as well as Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder from Marcho Farms, roasted for six hours and served with braised potatoes, onions and carrots. The Express Lunch is priced at $25 per person (tax and gratuity not included). The Balkan Experience dinner menu: unlimited small plates (no alcohol) for $35 per person (excluding tax and gratuity), unlimited small plates and unlimited drinks for $54.99 per person (excluding tax and gratuity).
Additionally, Ambar’s wine list, which showcases vintages from the Balkan region, will double in size. Twenty additional Rakia selections from premium small-bath distilleries will also be added to the list.
Patrons will find a dramatic transformation of the 3,000-square-foot Balkan oasis, which has doubled in size, in a redesign spearheaded by Nya Gill, a graduate of the Interior Architecture & Design MFA program at George Washington University. In addition to a new color palette, lighting, fabrics and furniture, guests can anticipate four inviting dining spaces: Chef’s Room, Rakia Bar, The Wine Cellar and Garden Room. One of the greatest enhancements is the new 48-seat third floor rooftop, complete with a retractable roof, where one can experience a night under the stars and enjoy this new venue year-round.”