For the sake of clarity, dedicated restaurant goers should carefully pick destinations that serve top-tier meals. Why, they should wonder, spend money on just middling menus? Good question—good answer is this, pick Vienna’s Clarity restaurant.
Award-winning chef/owner Jon Krinn has created a destination and a menu that have earned him plenty of kudos and press mentions. And well he deserves them. Clarity has an appealingly cheerful pale yellow-orange color theme; bar seating; kitchen counter seating to get into Krinn’s cooking space; and three dining areas for special private events, though when the crowds overflow, apparently some patrons may sit back there. And, for clement weather, the sitting in the front terrace with snazzy umbrellas is a definite option.
All that aside, what really counts here is the unusual sampling of appetizers, entrées, and desserts. Apparently, Krinn changes much of the menu often, except said the staff, his grass-fed, dry-aged cheeseburger with Gruyère, pickled watermelon, and blistered shishito peppers is a menu mainstay. Clearly, this has been a patron favorite since day one.
When you stop by for lunch, at least in summery weather, you may luck out and encounter Krinn’s artistic Earth & Eats Summer Melon Carpaccio. Artfully laid out on the serving plate are paper-thin slices of cantaloupe interspersed with paper-thin slices of Tuscan prosciutto, and a dash or two of aged pecorino on a thin pool of spiced cantaloupe purée sauce. The portion is maybe enough for two people, but just fine for one. Fortunately, the attentive waiter will keep the hot bread and rolls on the way.
One of the menu’s shining stars was the bowl of piping hot Fisherman’s Stew. While that may seem really geared for cold weather, it really suits the palate regardless of outdoor temp. Lucky are the patrons who can spoon into the broth and enjoy the array of clams, Gulf shrimp, and scallops with fingerling potatoes.
Other entrées competing with the stew are the seared Southwester Fran veal flank; pork schnitzel with bacon-braised collard greens, and crispy pork roulade with pickled onions, plus other offerings. There’s much to look forward to, but remember, much of the menu changes routinely, so your visit may bring some gastronomic surprises.
The kitchen turns out fabulous desserts, and these, too, change. Should you find the flourless dark chocolate ganache cake, the rose and lemon panna cotta, and/or a scoop of their in-house-made ice cream, take your pick or order them all. Coffees, teas, and artisan cheese, plus after dinner drinks make a fine conclusion to your lunch or dinner experience … and do not forget to scan the wine list before, during, and after the meal.
Reservations are suggested and if you want to extend your Clarity experience, ask about cooking classes, wine dinners, and other special events. And if you want to host a private party, check out the back dining areas for a tranquil event.
Clarity, 442 Maple Ave. E., Vienna, Va. 703-539-8400. Hours: Dinner nightly, lunch Tuesday - Friday.