Another New York transplant has landed in downtown DC. The Smith, opening today, has a lot of things we’ve come to expect from out-of-town restaurant groups: seafood towers, steaks, a big 200-person dining room. But you’ll also find some fun touches at the American brasserie like house-made ginger beer on tap and a photo booth on your way to the bathroom.
The Smith founder and managing partner Jeff Lefcourt says they’ve been trying to come to the District for years, and at one point, almost ended up in CityCenterDC. Ultimately, it was the former home of McCormick and Schmick’s at 901 F St., Northwest that sealed the deal.
“The second we saw it, it just felt like a corner that needed some more energy to it,” Lefcourt says. “[McCormick and Schmick’s], their time was up.”
The restaurant already seems to have a commanding street presence with big windows lighting up the white-tiled dining room. Once inside, your eyes go straight to the bar, lined high with bottles and surrounded by big communal tables. “Lighting is really important to us. We spend a lot of time making sure it’s got the perfect glow to it,” Lefcourt says. (A private dining room for up to 35 has a second, smaller bar.)
The drink menu features more than 20 cocktails, including two on tap. Meanwhile, the draft ginger beer can be matched with the spirit of your choice to create a Moscow Mule or Dark and Stormy.
The bar makes the obligatory nod to DC with some local beers, but you’ll also find the restaurant’s own brand, The Smith Ale, among the selection. In addition to wines by the bottle, you can get wines by the glass, carafe, or “big carafe.”
As for food, the restaurant has made just a few tweaks and additions from New York, including the “PQ Burger Supreme” topped sharp cheddar, smoke bacon, pickles, and “special sauce.” Lefcourt says he’s particularly passionate about the fries: “We have people that work overnight and they hand-cut them, blanche them, store them perfectly,” he says. “We make the best fries.”
While not a steakhouse, Lefcourt emphasizes, the place does have a number of steaks. Rounding out the menu: comfort foods like chicken pot pie, beef short ribs, and pastas. (Ricotta gnocchi in a truffle cream sauce is one of the most popular dishes in New York.) Every day, look for a different special, including fish and chips on Tuesdays and spaghetti and meatballs on Sundays. Check out the raw bar selection for local oysters and seafood platters ($70 to $115).
The restaurant just serves dinner to start, but lunch will launch Feb. 8 and brunch will follow that weekend. Weekday breakfast will come a few weeks after that.
The Smith. 901 F St., NW; 202-868-4900. Open 5 to 11 pm Sunday through Wednesday and 5 pm to midnight Thursday through Saturday.