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Social Restaurant & Oyster Bar
Scallop Crudo from Social Restaurant & Oyster Bar / Photo by Rey Lopez

Social Restaurant & Oyster Bar

Social Restaurant & Oyster Bar
Social Restaurant & Oyster Bar / Photo by Rey Lopez

Where did you learn that?” a customer asks the chef, right after piling on the praise for his scallop dish.

“YouTube,” deadpans Jeff Barillo. He then broke into a silly grin.

Barillo is a classically trained chef, and if you sit at the bar and recognize those sleek black rubber square coasters, you’ll know where he cooked before: the highly praised and quick-to-close Gypsy Soul by R.J. Cooper in Mosaic. Barillo, and his co-chef, Gift Thongpukdee, who also worked at Cooper’s molecular gastronomy experiment Rogue 24 (also closed), clearly influences their flair for plating and use of gadgetry.

There are obviously oysters here, a blackboard signals the variety and whence they came. They sit in neat rows on display in this sliver of a restaurant in McLean.

A tasting menu reveals a simple potato croquette dabbed with a malt vinegar aioli placed on a pedestal (literally) to long, lush slices of scallop crudo dotted with punchy sturgeon caviar nestled into a clear bowl angled like a satellite dish (a little difficult to eat from).

CO2-charged foams and purees prove their modernist cuisine bona fide. The high-powered canister turns fats and flavors into a chestnut and bacon puree next to a crunchy, fatty piece of pork belly, cured Filipino-style, which epitomizes trendiness. Yes, this is more than a tiny oyster bar tucked into a strip mall.

NOTES
Established: October 2015
Type: modernist and Modern American cuisine
Good for: oysters, tasting menu, intimate meal
Address: 1307 Old Chain Bridge Road, McLean
Open: Tuesday through Sunday for dinner

(May 2016)

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