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Posted at 11:54 AM ET, 01/27/2011

Harth coming to Hilton McLean Tysons Corner

By Justin Rude

Suburban hotel restaurants aren't generally known for strong concepts, but that seems to be changing in Tysons Corner. First Michel Richard took over the old Maestro space in the Ritz-Carlton, and now Thomas Elder, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, and former executive chef at Chicago's McCormick Place, will open Harth (pronounced hearth), a farm-to-table themed restaurant in the McLean Tysons Corner Hilton. The 120-seat restaurant, set to open in late March, will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, and focus on contemporary American comfort food made with regionally sourced ingredients.

"We're calling it American comfort," Elder says, "but really it's a personal interpretation of the comfort food I was raised on and my chefs were raised on. It's really simple."

The comfort concept carries through to the dining room, which will have three fireplaces and a 20-seat semi-private space available for events. The bar area will have lounge-style seating, its own menu of shareable small plates and free WiFi, an enticing feature for the area's population of tech workers.

A wood-burning stove, the center of Harth's open kitchen design, will serve dishes like flatbreads and fire-roasted chicken. Other menu items include beef bourguignon, chicken pot pie, a short-rib cheesesteak sandwich, salt-roasted beets and the Härth burger, topped with Talbot reserve sharp cheddar, wood-fired onions and applewood-smoked bacon.

Most of the restaurant's ingredients will be coming from farms and co-ops in the Shenandoah countryside, such as Ayrshire Farm in Upperville. "We're getting heirloom beef, pork and turkey from them," Elder says. "They have five varieties of heirloom turkey out there, and the pigs are up in the woods just hanging out. It's a pretty cool operation."

Thanks to a terrace garden, the chef won't have to travel for all of his produce. Site-grown heirloom tomatoes and hot peppers will go into the restaurant's homemade ketchup and hot sauces. "We've been growing the ghost pepper out of Northeast India," Elder said. "It's one of the world's hottest peppers. And right now we're hunting down other peppers like the naga viper and the Trinidad scorpion."

Further proof that you can tell a pepper is great when it sounds like it should be a metal band.

By Justin Rude  | January 27, 2011; 11:54 AM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  | Tags:  restaurant openings  
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