Years ago a foodie destination, the Georgetown dining scene sees a rebirth.
In the not-so-distant past, Georgetown restaurants focused on pleasing tourists rather than foodies. There were notable exceptions—Bourbon Steak, Farmers Fishers Bakers, and Fiola Mare all shine brightly—but they were outliers. Thankfully, a f lurry of high-profile restaurant openings has guaranteed that epicureans will once again flock to the recherché waterfront neighborhood.
THE FRENCH WAY
A fresh monument to French cuisine, Chez Billy Sud expands upon classic offerings, such as the duck confi t (SHOWN), with Basque-tinged dishes like the spiced lamb sausage with white beans, kale, and piquillo peppers.
Chef and partner Brendan L’Etoile of Chez Billy Sud (1039 31st St. NW; 202-965-2606) considers himself a classicist—most of the time. “I’m very old-fashioned in terms of the process for making a dish and the technique,” he says. “But when it comes to plating, I try to be more playful. That way the food is less stuffy and more approachable.” Red wine poached duck egg appears in a nest of sautéed mushrooms, while duck confi t arrives coronating a throne of root vegetables. When the restaurant opened last October, it showcased Provençal-style cuisine, but now L’Etoile is taking more inspiration from the Spanish-accented Basque region. Either way, c’est bon!
YUM, YUM, YUM, AND A BOTTLE OF RUM
True to its nautical setting, Orange Anchor offers up a panoply of seafood dishes, such as pepper-crusted tuna and twin lobster tails in rum beurre blanc.
It made good business sense for Reese Gardner to metaphorically dock his latest venture in Washington Harbour development—but he was equally motivated on a personal level. As an avid boater on the Potomac since moving to the District 15 years ago, the restaurateur opened Orange Anchor (3050 K St. NW, 202-802-9990) as the ultimate waterfront clubhouse. (Boaters can tie up at the Harbour on a fi rst-come, fi rst-served basis.) “I wanted it to have a nautical, preppy feel,” says Gardner, who also owns Second State and Irish Whiskey Public House. Buoys, mirrored portholes, and anchor-motif wallpaper decorate the seaworthy space. Corporate Executive Chef Allan Javery focuses on scratch-made casual American fare, like pan-seared chicken with brown ale butter sauce and pecan-crusted trout. To quench the thirst of sailors and landlubbers alike, there are nearly 30 rums and a variety of tropical-infl ected cocktails available. In keeping with the nautical theme, beers are only available in cans and by draught, since the quickest way to ruin a trip on the water is with a broken glass on deck.
This underground cocktail lounge turns out fi rst-rate nibbles, such as the kale Caesar salad, to complement speakeasy-inspired drinks like The Blind Tiger (Wigle’s Ginever, Pimm’s blackberry and elderfl ower liqueur, and maraschino liqueur).
To find The Alex (1075 Thomas Jefferson St. NW, 202-337-0900), a steampunk-styled subterranean boîte, you need to go through the lobby of the Graham hotel and descend past walls chalked up with Mad Genius doodles. The slender, sepia-lit space is decorated with reclaimed and repurposed elements designed to echo the era and accomplishments of the establishment’s namesake: Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone. The menu is overseen by fresh-faced Executive Chef Hassan Artis, who is looking to make a name for himself at the boutique hotel. “I want to do home cooking kicked up a notch,” he says. The ubiquitous kale Caesar makes a welcome appearance—not overdressed, just enough lemony pep—and there’s a simply done, pan-seared chicken breast balancing on plump potatoes roasted just right. We’re sure Bell would offer a ringing endorsement.