With a grand opening last month, Blackfinn debuted its “Ameripub” in Merrifield’s Halstead Square. The growing chain is opening up restaurants intended to reimagine the American bar and grill.
Craft beers and gourmet eats share menu space with Buds and Millers and nachos and wings for a dressed-up approach that maintains the pub-grub charm. But appealing to a broad range of tastes makes for a book of a menu, like the spiral-bound and laminated ones found in American chain restaurants. Suggestions are offered throughout the menu by way of the “BF” stamp that signals a house specialty, and other markers denote gluten-free, vegetarian, and diet-friendly options – again, engaging a wide audience.
The starters offer the first evidence of the high-and-low cuisine approach, with selections from quesadillas and cheese sticks to crab cakes and ahi tuna. The prices range from the $4.99 Finn Fries to the $12.99 Blackened Brie, both house specialties. The crispy seasoned fries are served with a tangy barbecue dip, but also a buttermilk-Parmesan dip that is just as good as the name sounds. It’s the type of tasty finger food that’s ideal for a beer-side snack. Picks like the Blackened Brie pull in a gourmet direction. A small wheel of the cheese is seasoned for a smoky, earthy flavor with a bit of heat that complements the creamy cheese. The cheese is served with crispy slices of ciabatta bread and apple slices as vehicles, along with a chutney of dried apricot and cranberry pieces for some sweetness. Flatbreads and “small salads” stand on the border of appetizer and entrée. “Big salads,” sandwiches, and assorted pastas and platters are offered as entrées. Ten burger plates, at no more than $12 apiece, make the menu, with the diner’s choice of a half-pound beef burger or a house-made turkey burger. The side of fries can be substituted out for any of the house sides, offering even more ways to customize the order, and the bun can be swapped out for a lettuce cup – though that decision should not be made lightly, as the fluffy, buttery toasted bun is an ideal mate to the juicy patties and stacked toppings of the Blackfinn burgers.
The “Air, Land & Sea” menu section offers more than a dozen entrée platters that range in price and style from the $13.99 fish and chips to the $22.99 Chilean sea bass. The Queen City Chicken ($14.99), another entrée recommended as a specialty, is a dish as intriguing as it is flavorful. Chicken is wrapped around a pocket of sausage, which is then all wrapped in a bacon shell and served sliced into medallions on the plate. The chicken is tender, and is imparted with the sweet and savory flavor of the sausage. The crunchy bacon adds a salty, smoky flavor and a nice crunch, especially at the irresistible end-pieces of the rolled concoction. A mountainous side of mashed sweet potato and grilled asparagus round out the platter.
The food menu options are plentiful, and so too is the drink selection. Nearly 20 cocktails are offered in all – two right from the tap. As for beers, there are more than 75 to choose from – lagers, IPAs, porters and more. The beers are served in the standard 16-ounce pint size, but also the “lil guy,” to get a nine-ounce taste of something new or customize a flight, and the “big boy” growler for sharing. Diners can choose from wines galore, and the cheeky “Who’s Buying?” menu section of $80 and up bottles of wine and champagne provides a laugh, if not a selection for the night’s drinking.
And for those who prefer desserts as their vice, Blackfinn delivers. The Blackfinn Hot Chocolate is the house’s dessert specialty, and an order of the rich, decadent treat brings an oversized mug to the table filled with peanut butter, chocolate soufflé, vanilla ice cream, and whipped cream, all drizzled in caramel sauce. At $6.99, it’s an affordable way to end a meal of excellent tastes and pub-food indulgences.
Blackfinn Ameripub is located at 2750 Gallows Road, Merrifield. For more information, call 703-207-0100 or visit blackfinnameripub.com. Restaurant hours are Monday – Sunday: 11 a.m. – 2 a.m.