Evenings are revving back up in Dupont Circle with the opening of new spots like Twelve After Twelve (in the former ESL space) and adult mini-golf bar, Swingers. Now nightlife entrepreneur Antonis Karagounis (Echostage, Soundcheck, Decades) is adding to the landscape with the Mayflower Club, a multi-level Mediterranean restaurant with five bars, space for music and dancing, and a rooftop lounge. It opens in the former Dirty Martini space on Wednesday, October 27.
Though Mayflower Club is hardly discrete—cue the violet lighting and Liberace-esque chandelier centerpiece—it takes its name from a speakeasy that operated at the Connecticut Avenue address in the early 1930s. The large rooftop lounge with a retractable roof, dubbed Zebbie’s Garden, nods to the speakeasy’s owner, Zachariah “Zebbie” Goldsmith, who was eventually arrested for failure to pay taxes and running illegal gambling games at the club.
Diners won’t find black jack these days, but there’s a playful nouveau Med menu from former Del Frisco’s Double Eagle chef, Alex Oradei. Like the space itself, the kitchen leans on over-the-top presentations. Customizable canapé towers feel like a personal cocktail party, stacked with the table’s choice of bites like bacon-wrapped dates, lamb sliders, tuna tartare cones, and mini lobster rolls with sumac butter.
Other dishes seem designed with Instagram in mind. A gold leaf-encrusted New York strip is fit for Salt Bae (albeit the $40 price tag has nothing on Bae’s $1,000 “golden tomahawk“). A “larger than life ahi tuna crudo” is served on a platter for a group ($36) with crispy capers, wasabi cream, fennel, arugula, and shaved watermelon radish. Or, if you’re just looking to kick back with pals like in the Zebbie days, there are more casual eats like hummus and halloumi fries.
The Mayflower Club. 1223 Connecticut Ave., NW. Open Wednesday through Saturday, 6 PM through 11 PM, with a special late-night menu served until 2 AM. Zebbie’s is open starting at 10 PM.