While the Mayflower Hotel’s former bar and restaurant, Town & Country, epitomized old-school Washington—it opened in 1948, after all—the new concept that debuted in late December has all the trappings of current dining culture. Group-friendly sharing plates replace the exclusive men’s club atmosphere, whiskey takes precedence over large glasses of vodka, and locally sourced items dot the menu. (Don’t worry, it’s still plenty dim for carrying on deals and more covert affairs in the evenings.) Here are six things to know about the reinvented classic.
Edgar may be attached to a historic hotel, but a separate street entrance helps set off the eatery from the bustling lobby. The atmosphere shifts from morning to night. You’ll find a mix of early-risers for weekday breakfast, including hotel guests breezing through the continental buffet (also open to non-guests), and K Streeters meeting over egg-white omelets and coffee. Lunch is a similar mix of business and pleasure, but as the day goes on, the space turns from bright and busy to a low-lit lounge primed for happy hour or a more leisurely dinner in the back dining room.
Forget the blue plate. Edgar hopes to hook a crowd with a different event nearly every night of the week. You might take the edge off Monday with $15 pours of Johnnie Walker Blue, grab five girlfriends for a complimentary bottle of bubbly on Thursday, or welcome the weekend come Friday with gratis flatbread pizzas and $3 drafts. Future plans include reps from local food and beverage companies dropping by to hand out samples and talk about their products.
Thankfully, not of the tapas-inspired variety. Chef Andrew Morrison partially designed the menu with a hungry bar crowd in mind, meaning more large platters for group grazing and less Lilliputian portions for group haggling. Drink-friendly dishes include boards of cured meats from Virginia-based salumeria Olli, a quartet of mini crabcakes topped with a dollop of smoked paprika, and fennel sausage flatbreads. Those less inclined to share also have a variety of options, including homey entrées like roast chicken with Benton’s bacon and buttermilk mashed potatoes, and lighter dishes such as house-made tagliatelle with shrimp and spicy tomato-zucchini ragout. If you want to avoid the bar scene, ask for a quiet table in the back dining room.
Monday breakfast is all about business, but when it comes to Sunday brunch, Edgar embraces Washington’s lazy side. The à-la-carte lineup is pure indulgence: think crabcakes Benedict, raspberry-lemon-ricotta pancakes, and a “Southern-fried breakfast” of smoked bacon, buttermilk-fried chicken, sausage gravy, grits, and biscuits. Have an urge to really go all-out? Try $10 bottomless mimosas or one of the many Bloody Marys spiked with everything from vodka to tequila.
A Surveyor’s Scene
Sure, bars are all about checking out who’s who. Edgar takes the theme a step further, with several design nods to land surveying (its namesake, J. Edgar Hoover, was a surveyor of his own kind, and dined at the old Mayflower for lunch daily). The New York-based design firm AvroKo is behind touches such as dangling surveying chains and notes from an early District surveyor enlarged and hung along the wall of the dining room. Another thing those surveyors love: brown liquor, reflected in both the vintage whiskey bottle collection around the bar and the extensive list of bourbon and Scotch.
You might find a mix of jetlagged hotel guests and revelers who worked up an appetite at the nearby clubs and bars for late-night service. A limited bar menu runs from ten to midnight daily.
Edgar Bar & Kitchen. 1127 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-347-2233. Open daily 6:30 AM to midnight (see hours for different services on the website).
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