Friday, July 18, 2014


It's fun when you go to a restaurant expecting one thing and it turns out to be something completely different.  Going to Tender in Lawrenceville, we knew there would be hand-crafted cocktails.  We figured that the name Tender was a shortened version of "bartender".  To my surprise, the restaurant actually has a double meaning, as it appears to be situated in an old bank.

The floor is that marble/terrazzo look and the entrance is this enclosed little box that made me wonder if a would-be robber ever got trapped in there.  Their logo has the same font and look of legal tender U.S. money, as well.  There was even an old (original?) bank-looking clock on the wall.

Oh...yeah..right there on their website it says they occupy the old Arsenal Bank from the 1880's.  I'm dumb.

We knew that the menu was limited and would mostly be some artsy appetizers.  We were here for the drinks and atmosphere.  The drink menu is extensively extensive.  Pages and pages of cocktails, followed by a page of wine and a page of beer.

I went with Don't Give Up The Ship, a gin based drink with Fernet Blanca, vermouth, and curacao.  Strangely, the curacao didn't tint my drink blue at all, but perhaps the vermouth cancelled it out.  DB~ went with Aviation -- also a gin based drink with lemon and two other things neither of us had heard of before.

To dine, I went with two appetizers.  The first were Wild Boar Meatballs served on a bed of polenta and topped with a touch of pesto.  These could have been a little more moist, but were otherwise excellent.  The Wild Boar gave just enough punch to the meatball.

My second appetizer was a segment of Pork Belly with cherry and apricot sauce, with fennel mixed in.  It was seared on the non-fat side.  The fatty belly melted in my mouth with the fruit sauce giving a sweet base to the savory bacony taste.  It was topped with some pickled onions and fresh arugula.

DB~ went with the Tender Burger, which was interesting because she doesn't like red meat.  Oddly, she seems to be reverting BACK to being a carnivore of late.  This was a standard cheeseburger, but it was well crafted.

Since I was driving, DB~ had a second after dinner cocktail and went with Immortality Juice.  This was a sparkling wine with a pear liqueur, walnut liqueur, and apricot liqueur, squeezed with lemon.  She preferred this one slightly more.

The background music was a mix of 80's synth and 80's cheese like Phil Collins' "Sususudio" (I probably misspelled that, but I don't care enough to look it up).  I didn't quite get that part of the atmosphere.  Is that what hipsters listen to in hipster cocktail bars?  Jazz, anyone?

Tender is a great place to drink and grab a small plate, but probably not as a pure dinner destination.

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