100 Best Restaurants 2008: 1789 Restaurant

No. 72: 1789 Restaurant

Cuisine: Two years after taking over from longtime chef Ris Lacoste, Nathan Beauchamp is upholding tradition—there’s Waldorf salad, veal with Madeira sauce, that famous rack of lamb—while keeping his larder stocked with surprises, from huckleberries to Spanish chorizo to carnaroli rice.

Mood: Georgetown students on their parents’ dime and moneyed elders as well preserved as the primrose-patterned Limoges china occupy two floors of intimate dining rooms done up with Civil War–era prints and antique maps.

Best for: Holiday dinners and golden anniversaries.

Best dishes: Super-sweet Nantucket bay scallops, in season until March, with lemon, chervil, and florets of cauliflower; mahogany clams steamed with fiery chorizo and shallots; sweet-potato soup made thick with creamed peanuts; rare, pepper-crusted venison with huckleberries and sweet-potato gratin; grilled sea scallops over green lentils; a sourdough Belgian waffle with raw figs and whipped mascarpone.

Insider tips: Unless you’re seated at one of the prime tables around the downstairs fireplace, dress warmly—the 19th-century Federal-style house can get drafty. A $35 early-bird and late-night menu gives you a limited choice of two appetizers and entrées plus a dessert, but the centerpieces—the roasted chicken and grilled scallops—would be worth ordering even without the special. Another perk: free valet parking.

Service: ••

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.