Tryst in Arlington Bar
Somewhat on a whim I stopped by Tryst last night and today read some previous reviews. I really liked the bar space and while the dining space looked nice, there was something odd about it to me. (I think it was the lighting that made it look a bit cavernous, whereas the bar was much more inviting.) Seating in the bar didn't seem that cramped to me. They also had some interesting cocktails and a large wine by the glass selection, including two sparkling wines. I only briefly checked out the winelist and it seemed pretty standard both in terms of selection and markup.
We were served by the bartender who provided efficient service, even though he was quite busy with other patrons and drinks for the dining room. I had a Pilsner Urquell on tap, which decent but not as fresh as I would like (not skunked, though).
I went for the Steak Tartar (not tartare) ($13), which was about a 1/4 lb of shaved beef with some nice tangy greens and a toasted brioche. The tartar had a very distinct mustard flavor, as did the side cornichons, and plenty of capers. Seasoning was pleasant, although not entirely obvious. They also provided an ample bread basket and the spread was plenty interesting with perhaps some olives blended with the chickpeas.
We ordered from the "light side of the menu" -- the cubano ($9) and the burger ($8). Although the appetizer came very quickly, the kitchen took quite a while with the main course. My best guess was that it was somewhat understaffed (the menu is pretty broad and on a slow, rainy Tuesday they aren't going to have a line cook for every function). The cubano will not give Chez Henri's a run for the money, but it was prefectly tasty with smokey pork (a bit on the dry side), nice country ham, and swiss. Decent amount of pickles, with more on the side. Like the tartar and the cornichons, there was a strong brown mustard flavor which was fine with me. The hand cut fries with the cubano were nicely cut, but a bit underdone. My dining partner ordered the burner medium, but it was still quote juicy with a nice char flavor. I think it would have been better with a nice smokey bacon, but still quite good. Normal bun, normal fillings. The star of the sides were the hand cut chips, which were large and cut thin, cooked until quote brown (russets, presumably)... so get them instead of the fries.
Even though this was the "light side" of the menu, the portions were large and there was no room to try anything else.
This isn't a full review, but I found it a pleasant place to sit in the bar and nosh. There were some other interesting things on the apps menu (it surprised me to see grilled sardines outside of a pure portuguese restaurant) and I could certainly eat off the dinner menu, although I wasn't attracted to the dining room. I think the picky eaters I work with could also find something to eat there. I also am the first to decry suburban bistros charging city prices, but they had interesting entrees at what seemed like fair prices. And we had a nice meal, paying around for sandwiches what we would pay at Not Your Average Joe's down the road (which was packed). I would pick it over Za.