100 Best Restaurants 2009: 1789

No. 45: 1789

Cuisine: It doesn’t get more old Washington than this clubby Georgetown dining room. But fresh talent in the kitchen—24-year-old chef Daniel Giusti—is shaking up the rear-guard American menu, slipping Burgundy snails into the broccoli soup and jazzing up the rack of lamb with pierogi.

Mood: With its stuffed pheasants, flowery Limoges china, and aged Currier & Ives prints, the place is imbued with a stately stodginess.

Best for: Anyone with hard-to-please tastes; winter dinners by the old stone hearth; privacy seekers (there are plenty of places to hide away among the six dining rooms).

Best dishes: Steak tartare topped with a runny quail egg; caramelized veal sweetbreads with figs, bacon relish, and bleu cheese; rack of lamb; rockfish with smoky littleneck clams; deconstructed tarte Tatin, each of its parts delicious; chocolate brownie laced with mission figs and dotted with Marcona almonds.

Insider tips: A $40 three-course menu, served every night, is a terrific deal, but you have to request it. Desserts are one of the best parts of the meal, courtesy of new pastry chef Travis Olson. The most desirable tables are in the John Carroll Room near the fireplace.

Service: ••

Open daily for dinner. Very expensive.

See all of 2009's 100 Best Restaurants

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.