100 Best Restaurants 2010: 1789

No. 31: 1789

Cuisine: What’s the best way to freshen up a meat-and-potatoes institution that dates to the early days of Camelot? In this case, hire a couple of kids. Daniel Giusti, 25, gently pushes boundaries, drizzling beef carpaccio with chili oil and pairing a New York strip with chestnut polenta, while Travis Olson, 28, is one of the best of a new breed of area pastry chefs.

Mood: Like stepping back to the Federalist era. Five dining rooms are wedged throughout two floors of a historic mansion and done up with gaslights, antique maps of Georgetown, and bud vases. In this come-as-you-are age, 1789 has a jackets-only policy, but a loyal brass-buttoned crowd is only too willing to comply.

Best for: Celebrating a birthday or anniversary.

Best dishes: The menu changes frequently, but recent hits have been lush veal cheeks with bits of preserved orange over celery-root purée; broiled Gruyère-topped oysters; a stunningly pretty and delicious rack of lamb with white beans; pork chop with cider jus; Nantucket bay scallops in any preparation; addictive, slightly tangy cider doughnuts; pumpkin-soufflé cheesecake; peach-and-blackberry buckle (in summer).

Insider tips: The restaurant tends to go all out for the holidays, with lavish Christmas decorations and an Easter bunny come spring. Ask for a table in the downstairs John Carroll Room—with its crackling fireplace, it’s more inviting than the rooms upstairs.

Service: ••½

Open daily for dinner. Very expensive.

See all of 2010'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.