Southern-leaning Capitol Hill restaurant Art and Soul goes on hiatus January 22 for a makeover, according to a press release sent out Wednesday. Restaurateur and former Oprah chef Art Smith—who memorably stripped down to a Speedo on the last season of Top Chef Masters—has entrusted Seattle-based Dawson Design Associates with the remodel; the plan is to create an “indoor urban market feel” in the roomy, window-lined restaurant.
Carpet in the dining room, bar, and lobby will be pulled up and replaced with herringbone wood flooring. The firm is also replacing the current Art and Soul light fixtures and adding wall treatments and graphics for an outdoorsy look. Some regulars may lament one design development: Dawson is nixing its cozy banquettes in favor of freestanding tables to fit with the market-y new ambience. There will also be a wall sculpture made of beans. Look for a new website and menus, folk art, and painted farm signs in the restaurant—part of a rebranding dreamed up by New York firm Love & War.
Art and Soul is just one of a number of local hotel restaurants playing up the farm-to-table approach. Jardenea, the new restaurant in the Melrose Hotel, emphasizes local, seasonal ingredients and looks to invoke an indoor-outdoor feel with its design. The new Caucus Room at the Westin Georgetown touts fresh ingredients, house-made sodas, and other homey/local whatnot. Edgar Bar & Kitchen—slated to debut in mid-December in the former Thomas Pink space at the Melrose Renaissance Hotel—is also working with area farms to create a menu “with local ingredients and trend-driven flavors,” as one press release puts it. That restaurant’s menu will list cheeses from Firefly Farms in Maryland, local seafood, and other nods to the region. But Art and Soul’s Wes Morton—a Southern-born chef and Againn alum whose approach seems to have little to do with trends and everything to do with a legitimate passion for nuanced but pretension-free cooking—embodied the style way before its maxims became corporate buzzwords. The decor may have reflected a sort of early-aughts sense of urban and modern, but the menu has long been farm-focused and down-home. Art and Soul will reopen on February 22.