Food

Take a Look Inside the New Oval Room (Photos and Menu)

The downtown classic gets a million-dollar revamp and fresh menus.
The Oval Room reopens with a million dollar new look and creative menus from chef Tony Conte. Photographs by Andrew Propp.

Twenty years in business is no small feat for a restaurant, especially in the competitive world of fine dining. The Oval Room marks its two-decade anniversary this fall, and looks fresher than ever thanks to a million-dollar renovation and new menus from chef Tony Conte. After a temporary closure, restaurateur Ashok Bajaj’s revamped eatery reopens Monday. 

Designer Martin Vahtra of New York’s Projects Design Associates is behind the look, as well as the aesthetic of other Bajaj restaurants such as Rasika West End and Nopa. Unlike some other eateries adapting to current times, you’ll still find white tablecloths and proper stemware (no Mason jars here). The livened-up interior boasts a white marble bar, dangling theatrical lights, and a painting from artist Jennifer Bartlett

Designer Martin Vahtra is behind the fresh look, as well as other Bajaj spots like Rasika West End.

On the dining side, Conte continues to turn out creative dishes on new à-la-carte and prix-fixe menus. Lunch guests can grab a $20 meal from the bar menu, which includes a glass of wine (or nonalcoholic beverage), dishes such as salmon with corn raviolo and fried ginger, and sorbet. Set dinner menus include a four-course selection for $60, or $90 with wine pairings from sommelier Alek Milford. Those looking to design their own meal will find plenty of options, from a section of raw appetizers—think yellowfin tuna with bonito ranch—to heirloom tomatoes with nori dressing, rockfish in a spiced broth with shrimp dumplings, and a butter-roasted strip steak with blue-cheese gougères.  

A selection of raw appetizers includes fluke with coconut and lime (left), and yellowfin tuna with bonito ranch and ginger.

The restaurant’s interior isn’t the only place to experience changes. A 35-seat patio is set with new furnishings, and serves happy hour from 5 to 6:30 Monday through Friday. All drinks are poured at a 20-percent discount, meaning you can sip a bubbly Lady Michelle cocktail for $9.50 and snack on duck confit tater tots while overlooking the White House grounds. 

The new interior design comes as The Oval Room celebrates its 20-year anniversary this fall.

Find Anna Spiegel on Twitter at @annaspiegs.

Don’t miss a new restaurant again. Subscribe to our weekly newsletters.

Questions or comments? You can reach us on Twitter, via e-mail, or by contacting the author directly:
Anna Spiegel
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.