It’s usually a red flag when a restaurant has an all-over-the-place menu. For example, dishes that sound like a grad student’s list of random things they ate while traveling the world. That’s the case at Gadabout, which also happens to be decorated like that same student’s apartment. But we’re happy to report that this small-plates restaurant in Andersonville is actually pretty great.
Each college apartment is different, but the standard resale shop starter kit includes used furniture, mismatched chairs, and various knick-knacks like an old violin and a bunch of globes. You’ll find all those things here too, which is why this place feels like you’re hanging out with your cousin who just graduated from Oberlin. But even if you’re not into the Brown Elephant aesthetic, you’ll like their Japanese pancakes and tuna tostadas with gochujang and pickled jicama.
Like that double major in art history (with a minor in computer science), most things here have what seems like two ingredients too many, but they all somehow still end up tasting great. Take the corn, poblano, and gruyere-filled empanadas for example. They’re topped with blueberries and roasted peaches, cotija, and served on a bed of spicy aji verde, and we were surprised by how well everything worked together. The same goes for the chickpea fritters with za’atar whipped feta, chimichurri, coriander, tomatoes, and pea shoots. There’s definitely a lot happening, but every seemingly random element ends up being there for a reason.
That said, some things are as overly-complicated and unnecessary as your cousin’s drunken tirade about Instagram and Nietzsche. Like the roasted carrots - an unwelcome combination of buffalo sauce, blue cheese spread, pears, walnuts, and salsa verde that makes zero sense and doesn’t taste good. Or pan-fried okra that despite having a spicy seafood XO sauce and garlic aioli is oddly bland.
Even if long-winded conversations about social media and philosophy make you want to escape away in a hot air balloon, there’s still something really nice about hanging out over interesting small plates, cocktails, and talking about whatever the hell you want. That’s ultimately what a great neighborhood place like Gadabout is meant for and good at. And unlike the actual Brown Elephant, you can spend all night sitting on the sofas here without anyone asking you to leave.
We cannot stress enough how delicious these empanadas are. The flaky pastries are filled with corn, poblanos, and gruyere, and topped with a slightly sweet roasted peach and blueberry salsa and sitting on some spicy aji. It’s sweet, savory, and spicy, and definitely a must-order.
This innocuous-sounding toast is another must-order. The bean puree is seasoned with toum (a garlic sauce), harissa, sumac, lemon vinaigrette, topped with a medium-cooked egg, and on top of fantastic housemade bread. Order this.
We didn’t realize we had such strong expectations about what a chickpea fritter should look like until these appeared on our table and were not it. They look like little blocks, and we thought they might be stiff and dry. Instead, they’re very fluffy, and the mild flavor of the chickpeas is great with the za’atar feta, coriander, and chimichurri.
The pancake is covered in bonito flakes, so as long as you like them you’ll enjoy this. It also has tender shrimp, eel sauce, spicy mayo, furikake, and pickled ginger - definitely a flavor bomb where everything tastes great together.
The texture of raw fish combined with refried beans might not sound appealing, but this tastes pretty good. Just know that the tuna doesn’t take center stage - it’s overshadowed by the gochujang, pickled jicama, and sesame stick pieces.
Considering how many ingredients are in this dish, it’s incredibly bland. There’s garlic aioli, XO sauce, cornbread crumbs, and rice powder that’s truly unnecessary.
Here is where going rogue with a bunch of sh*t on the plate backfires. The blue cheese, buffalo sauce, pears, salsa verde, and walnuts is a complete miss. Skip this.
We give these skewers a participation trophy for the salty and sweet doenjang-lingonberry glaze, but no matter how well-seasoned the meat is, if beef heart isn’t cooked perfectly it can be tough and unpleasant to eat.
This is a larger dish, and a great option if you want more of an entree. The seasoning on the steak is a little salty, but when it’s combined with the fried brussels sprouts, charred scallions, black garlic, and salsa negra it all balances out.