Among Washington restaurant spinoffs from famous out-of-town chefs, few age gracefully. An exception is this five-year-old cocoon of urbane elegance—overseen by Alain Ducasse, the many-Michelin-starred French chef—that lies behind the arched windows of the St. Regis hotel. Sébastien Rondier, who has been with Ducasse more than a decade, was promoted to executive chef last year and is executing his master’s vision with precision and stunning finesse—we haven’t had a more beautifully cooked duck breast all year, and it was made even lovelier by a rich sauce of stewed figs and a perfect scattering of salt. Rounding out the experience: stellar desserts (plus gratis macarons and gougères), a gorgeously lit, banquette-lined dining room, one of the area’s best wine lists, and two passionate, approachable sommeliers to guide you through it.
The recently renovated St. Regis bar is an opulent hideaway just outside the restaurant—perfect for pre- or post-dinner drinks. But stick to the wine list—cocktails are expensive and unexciting. Don’t miss: Seared foie gras; “lobster cookpot” with fingerling potatoes in a creamy lobster reduction; cheese plate; baba, an airy, apricot-glazed cake doused in Armagnac and dolloped with whipped cream; whiskey croustillant, a boozy sundae-like dessert with chocolate and caramel.
Open: Daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Very expensive.