Arts & Entertainment

Restaurant Spotlight: B Side

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B Side’s Italian Beef Burger. (Photo: Burger Days)

Up until recently, chef and butcher Nate Anda’s meaty cuts were only available to Mosaic patrons behind the counter or in sandwich form in the back of his Red Apron shop. But now, thanks to a cozy new restaurant next door, there’s a brand new lineup of Anda’s creations in Merrifield.

If there’s one thing to expect from a restaurant connected to a butcher shop, it’s meat. Lots of it. B Side meets those carnivorous expectations – and then some. With just 20 items, the menu is small, but welcomingly approachable. Almost half of it is made up of small plates (B Small) with sides (B Side), desserts (B Sweet) and bigger, entree-level dishes (B Big, natch) filling up the rest.

Standout small dishes include the pork belly pupusa and its tangy chimichurri and the n’duja risotto fritters – a trio of fried rice balls served with a wonderful campari-orange gastrique that packs a spicy-sweet kick. The ranch pork rinds are one of the bigger small plates offered but we found them inconsistently seasoned (though that didn’t stop us from polishing them all off). Other small items include pig “wings,” meatballs and a pair of salads but, keep in mind, these aren’t one-for-the-table appetizer portions. They’re small so it’s best to order two to three less a dust up arise over that last wing.

While the small plates are tasty, B Side really shines with the mains. Red Apron’s regular burger makes the cut here but the new Italian beef version might have a leg up on the original. A combination of a burger and the Chicago sandwich, two brisket-short rib-sirloin-and-round blended patties surround herbed jus-soaked Italian beef, covered in giardiniera and melted fontina cheese, all between a toasted bun that’s dipped into even more jus. It’s delicious.

When it comes to big hunks of meat, B Side’s got them, too. There’s a smoked cider double chop, bone-in NY strip, half-roasted, half-fried chicken served with honey hot sauce and a smaller, but no less meaty, five-ounce butcher’s cut sirloin dressed in herb butter and red wine sauce. On the side, the beef fat fries are tossed expertly with garlic and rosemary and are some of the best fried spuds in the D.C. area. Also, the polenta is fabulous on its own or the perfect creamy accompaniment to a fat slab of beef.

Last but not least, there’s a charcuterie menu, too, along with cheeses and a small selection of bar snacks like roasted olives, pimento cheese and crackers, and beef jerky.

While the food menu is small, the booze selection is anything but. A huge, 200 bottle-and-can beer list is available along with 150 wines plus a cocktail list. To help parse the index-like beer menu, B Side categorizes its collection with labels like Tart & Funky, Fruit & Spice and Smoke. There’s also a gluten free category if that’s your thing.

B Side is about the same size as Red Apron – so it’s not very big – but rather than cash registers and a display case loaded with steaks and sausages, a full-service bar runs down the left side of the restaurant with a group of small tables taking up the rest of the room. The space is deceptively quiet, too. When we stopped by on Sunday afternoon, even with an NFL game on the TV, the atmosphere was more study hall than sports bar. This can most likely be chalked up to the intimate seating – it’s kinda hard to get too rowdy in such close quarters.

It’s important to note that while B Side does open early on the weekends at 11 a.m., the full B-Side food menu isn’t available until 4 p.m. Up until then, grub is limited to the more casual, but no less delicious, Red Apron lineup of sandwiches and hot dogs.

B Side | 8298 Glass Alley | Fairfax | bsidecuts.com

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