“We wanted to get out of the pretentious white-tablecloth, take-out-a-second-mortgage-to-have-a-meal game,” says Michael Kosmides. He’s the owner of new K Street spot Look—formerly home to Italian fine-dining restaurant Teatro Goldoni at 1909 K Street, Northwest. The new concept is in soft-opening stages for lunch and dinner this week.
Following in the footsteps of 2941 and Elisir (now Osteria Elisir), the Cities restaurateur is remaking his formally “fancy” restaurant into a more casual concept fit for the times. In place of table trappings and pricey entrées, he has swapped in a tapas-style menu, extended happy hour, and a bold new design that favors interactive light displays and hard surfaces over soft linens. Here are five things to expect from the new place.
Sorry, you won’t find puffin or skyr, despite early reports. The tapas-style menu spans the globe in terms of influence, with everything from yellowfin tuna tartare in wonton cones to saffron risotto with lobster. Sadly for some, the only truly Nordic element of the restaurant is the architect, who’s from Iceland.
2) But the decor recalls the Northern Lights.
Perhaps the Aurora Borealis inspired the interior design, as there are more lights and changing colors in the 150-seat space than in the night sky (or even most nightclubs). The front bar features an interactive light panel that illuminates your cocktail and casts a glow that follows the drink as you move it around. The back stairs will also track your movements with colored panels, while overhead, 30-foot hologram screens project everything from CNN to art displays on the glowing walls. The sign out front will also change hues.
3) You’ll eat a tapa or two.
Part of the dressed-down vibe comes from the menu. The lineup is designed so you can drop in for a glass of wine and a snack of roasted shrimp bruschetta or compose a whole meal from the selection of small plates such as mussels with chorizo and white wine and tzatziki-topped grilled salmon. The lunchtime crowd may gravitate to sandwiches over grazing—offerings include a Kobe burger decked out with Brie and caramelized onions and a pulled-chicken club.
4) And enjoy nine hours of happy hour . . .
You can still find a $150 bottle of wine on the drinks menu for impressing that special someone, but the beverage program is no longer geared toward the expense-account crowd. Cocktails start at $7 for white-wine sangria, and you’ll find plenty of deals throughout the week. Especially noteworthy: happy hour from noon to 9 Monday through Friday, with all glasses of wine and Absolut vodka drinks priced at $5. Meanwhile, Monday through Wednesday bottles of vino such as Perrier Jouet Champagne are sold “at cost” (meaning without the typical restaurant price hike) during the same hours—that particular bottle of bubbly will run you just $30.
5) . . . after which you may be tempted to curl up in a VIP booth.
Teatro Goldoni’s power tables may be gone, but Kosmides hasn’t ditched hierarchy all together. Enter the power cube. You’ll find all the normal elements of the VIP table: high visibility to see and be seen, spacious surroundings, and the company of fellow heavy hitters. Except here you’ll be enclosed in a cushy gray leather cube, illuminated by a neon Look sign, oh-so-subtly encouraging other patrons to do just that.