By Chef Judi Gallagher –
Washington DC seems to have it all – historic monuments and parks, iconic and trending neighborhoods, cool restaurants, bakeries and bars. Add to that list exceptional hotel dining.
While in many cities hotel restaurants are more of an amenity for tired travelers and business people who need to make a quick deal, Washington DC boasts a number of hotels that serve superior cuisine and are certainly considered destination dining. There is the Mayflower Hotel, the Four Seasons and now in Georgetown (perhaps a new favorite) The Grill Room and Rye Bar at Capella Hotel, Georgetown.
A beautiful brick building situated along the C & O Canal, Capella sets a tone of contemporary comfortable elegance and a nod to the cocktails of yesteryear. Just spend a few moments speaking with the Rye Bar’s mixologist Angel Cervantes and you will feel the tremendous warmth and aptitude for respecting traditions. You can almost channel a grouping of politicians from Old Washington in the Rye Bar – men sipping barrel-aged Manhattans and sweet French aperitifs sitting on leather chairs and couches. Cigars? I’m sure. Now add a slightly new-age vibe using artisanal small-batch whiskey from Pennsylvania, and barreling for up to six weeks for aging in an empty Dad’s Hat whiskey barrel. The final drink, while pricy at $22.00 is smooth and deep with a hint of vanilla and oak as a result of the barrels themselves.
Cervantes does not hold back with other blends using fresh sliced ginger with gin and essence of rose water among many fine seasonal cocktails. The Rye room, especially under the expertise of Cervantes, sets the tone for your dinner in The Grill Room. Begin with a glass of champagne from the impressive champagne cart. This is how to experience the Grill Room.
A window table and a toast. You will be amazed at the standard of service and comfort; again a balance between the old standards of service with a tip of the chef’s hat to a more modern culinary interpretation. Take the bread course. Warm salted sour dough bread served with roasted bone marrow. Warm crusty bread with a smear of melting fatty bone marrow after a rye whiskey cocktail is sensational to the palate.
From there I recommend their beef tartar tableside. Omit only the Tabasco when asked and nibble on diced striploin enhanced with capers, Dijon and Worcestershire on toast points with a glass bold cabernet. Crispy suckling pig with Spanish blood sausage and potato apple butter is a dish of decadence. Skin crackling and the meat underneath tender and rich, just as the suckling pig should be served. Carnivores will appreciate the 40-day aged bone-in rib eye with sinfully smoked Gouda, caramelized onion and porcini gratin served with alderwood smoked rye sauce.
The Grill Room menus change almost daily with fresh seafood, pork loin and roast chicken. I say, three stars for Capella Grille Room and Rye Bar. A balance of the old-time comfort and elegance with a contemporary expression of delicious taste and genuine innovation.
The Grill Room
1050 31st Street NW, Washington D.C., 20007
Phone: (202) 617 2424
Dinner: Sunday to Thursday, 6:00 pm to 10:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 5:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Breakfast and lunch served daily. Brunch, Saturday and Sunday.