(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) Park Lane Tavern, a new European-inspired restaurant in Clarendon, opened for lunch this afternoon with some Scottish-inspired windy and rainy weather.
But that didn’t dampen the spirits of the restaurant’s four partners, who were all on hand for the opening and enthusiastic about their prospects in Arlington.
Located at 1200 N. Irving Street, tucked away on the ground floor of the Beacon at Clarendon apartment building, Park Lane Tavern is essentially across the street from Northside Social and just down the block from O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub.
Whereas if you were to speak to the owners of O’Sullivan’s you’d hear some authentic Irish brogue, the owners of Park Lane Tavern are all American. What they bring to the business, instead, is extensive restaurant industry experience and a good deal of European travels from which they gained inspiration for their expanding business. Just don’t call Park Lane Tavern a theme restaurant — call it “European inspired.”
“We’re not trying to be a themed business,” said Greg Knox, one of the partners. “Our inspiration for this business is the great pubs and taverns of Europe.”
The comfortable interior of Park Lane Tavern feels a bit more like an upper-middle-class country club than anything you’d find in, say, central London, but it is in fact modeled after an actual hotel bar in Paris, Knox said. He declined to reveal which one.
Continuing the pan-European inspiration, the interior includes typical pub carpeting from Britain and light fixtures from Spain — plus a modest collection of flat-screen TVs tuned to ESPN.
This is the third Park Lane Tavern location, but the closest yet to a major city. The others, which opened in 2009 as “The Pub” before being rebranded in 2012, are in Fredericksburg and Hampton, Va. The partners also own other eateries, from a Brixx pizzeria in Virginia Beach to a seafood restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Park Lane Tavern’s cuisine is described as “approachable comfort food” that’s “chef-y” but not overly presumptuous. Expect some familiar dishes from across the pond — bangers and mash, fish and chips, jagerschnitzel — along with a sizable menu of soups, salads, appetizers, burgers, pizzas and sandwiches that are mostly American with a sprinkling of European influence (think: fried Brie instead of mozzarella sticks.)
Prices are mid-range if not a bit lower for Clarendon: appetizers are in the $9-12 range, while burgers, pizza and sandwiches are in the $11-16 range. Entrees start at $15 and top out at $28.
On the beverage side, there are about two dozen draft beers sorted by country of origin, along with a rotating cask ale. Beer quality is a big focus: draft lines are cleaned weekly and all pint glasses are washed with filtered water before pouring. The restaurant’s “Beverage Bible” also includes a wine list, more than 40 Scotch whiskeys and a big selection of Bourbons and Irish whiskeys.
Imported draft beers range from $7 to $11, while a 3-6 p.m. happy hour brings the price of select draft beers and glasses of wines down to $5.
The Beverage Bible — a spiral-bound notebook of alcohol options — includes a page devoted to a curious creation: the “breakfast shot.” Take a shot of Jameson whiskey and butterscotch schnapps, followed by a shot of orange juice, followed by a piece of bacon, and it apparently tastes like a pancake breakfast. Despite the name, the shot is suitable for evening consumption, Knox assured us.
For those with a sweet tooth, the desserts are made to order. The signature dessert is a Jameson Irish Whiskey bread pudding.
Park Lane Tavern is open seven days a week, starting at 11 a.m. It’s open until midnight Sunday through Wednesday, until 1 a.m. on Thursday and until 2 a.m. on weekends. A Sunday brunch service is expected to begin next month.