J&G Steakhouse (515 15th St., NW; 202-661-2440), superstar chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s more-than-just-steaks restaurant, bowed last night at the W Washington D.C., a new hotel adjacent to the Willard InterContinental and now officially the closest lodging to the White House.
Amid the throng of curiosity seekers, Washingtonian food and wine editor Todd Kliman dropped in to sample the wares at the 26th restaurant in Vongerichten’s multinational empire, and tweet his first impressions. The transcript is below.
• I’ll be tweeting all night tonight, opening night, from J&G Steakhouse, the new Jean Georges restaurant in DC. Stay tuned . . .
• The Cellar: cafe-style menu and bar, downstairs. Low-slung, clubby, young, scene-ster-y. Could be in SoHo or Montreal.
• Interesting list of wines by the glass, some real thought in there—whites especially. Not cheap but decent prices.
• Steak tartare. Looks like a circular mound of tuna fish. Zesty-style: it’s all about the shallot, cornichon, mustard and mayo.
• The dining room. Very Parisian. Solid, classy. Looks like an expensive hotel, feels like an exclusive lounge.
• The waiters: Black-vested, serious, slightly formal—in a way that everything else is not.
• Watermelon-tomato gazpacho. Supremely refreshing. Hits the palate like a borscht. Then—an explosion of fruit. I’d have liked more chu . . .
• Tiny ravioli in a basil emulsion, with sweet fresh corn, pear tomatoes. Good pasta, good bite. Lots of vinegar, very “up.”
• The food: precise but not fussy. Hard to do.
• Love the sea bass. Crisp-seared surface, succulent meat. Asian mustard sauce, thin-stalk asparagus.
• Dining room: jumping all night. Where were these people eating a week ago? How’d they find out about this?
• Bbq lamb chops. Sweet, spicy but ultimately unremarkable glaze. Generic potato puree. Good, lots of savor, but . . .
• Hard to discern a personality here, for all the polish and detail, for all the training of the staff . . . Anonymous, corporate.
• I forgot to talk about the fries. The frites. Soggy, dull.
• Soundtrack. Eurotrash techno, the Spinners, Billy Preston.
• Interesting: a steakhouse in name only. You can go through an entire meal w/out ever considering a steak.
• Macerated strawberries . . . Good fruit, but dull, lifeless cheesecake tart. Loved the creme fraiche and strawberry sorbets.
• The mood tonight: a definite quickening in the air. Big night feel.
• The question is, what will J&G be like in 3 mths, when the reviews are out and some of the staff goes back to NY?
• I admire the precision of the kitchen and professionalism of the staff. I wish there were less anonymity, less a sense of eating in Anycity.
Follow Todd Kliman on Twitter at twitter.com/toddkliman