Mike Berman’s Washington Watch

May 4, 2013 8:55 AM

Restaurant: The Grill Room

The Grill Room

Capella Hotel
1050 31st Street N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20007
[Note: Subsequent to writing the piece below about The Grill Room, two separate couples who eat out regularly (one of whom went to The Grill Room at my suggestion) experienced significant service problems. It is as if the restaurant is unable to find experienced serving people and the communication with the kitchen is not quite ready for primetime.]

I was introduced to lunch at the Grill Room for lunch by Carol M., and subsequently Debbie and I had dinner there.

The Grill Room and the Capella Hotel have been open for only a few months. (The Hotel is in a converted office building, and has 49 rooms and suites that begin at about $650 per night.)

The hotel is located on the C & O Canal. The Grill Room is located on the canal side of the hotel and has floor to ceiling windows overlooking the water. There is an outdoor patio located right at the edge of the canal, which will be especially enjoyable on a warm night.

There are about 75 seats in the indoor portion of the restaurant. Included is a glass-enclosed private dining room that seats ten. The balance of the room is a combination of 2s, 4s (which can be shifted to accommodate larger parties), and one round table for six. Seating on the back wall is on a banquette. If arranging for a larger party and not using the private room, request space other than at the banquette. At a table of more than four, those sitting on the banquette have to inconvenience one or more parties if there is a need to leave the table before the meal is completed.

The patio has a half dozen 2s that can be shifted to make tables of four.

At lunch, Carol ordered two items from the Starters and Salads section of the menu; Baby Romaine Salad - Mizuna Leaf, Rotisserie Chicken, Caesar Dressing, Shave Wisconsin Parmesan and Chesapeake Jumbo Lump Crab Cake – Old Bay & Bacon mayonnaise. Carol also ordered Crème Brulee in an egg shell, a rather unique form of presentation. The egg shell was silver suggesting to me that it was not a real egg shell. We learned that real egg shells are painted offsite and then used for this dessert.

I ordered the Chopped Lobster Salad – Seasonal Greens & Vegetables, Pink Grapefruit Dressing and Onion rings.

At dinner Debbie also ordered two items from the Starter section of the menu. First she had the Chopped Lobster Salad – Seasonal Greens & Vegetables, Pink Grapefruit Dressing, followed by Jumbo Lump Crab Cake – Old Bay & Bacon Mayonnaise.

I started with Spring Pea Soup – Local Radishes & Smoked Eel, followed by Roasted Halibut – Roasted on the Bone with Sorrel & Oxtail Rice. We also ordered Onion Rings and Yukon Gold Creamed Truffle Potatoes.

One small issue was the fact that the onion rings I ordered at lunch were different than the onion rings I ordered at dinner, although there was nothing in the menu to suggest they might be different. The luncheon rings were single rings cooked in light oil. The dinner rings were of the more traditional deep fried variety.

The restaurant has a special style. I have had flowers delivered to many restaurants around Washington for my luncheon guests. Invariably they are placed on the table in the box in which they are delivered. At the Grill Room the top of the box was removed and the flowers were presented open to my guest. They were then recovered and made available when we left.

Service is still evolving. It ranges from very attentive to a bit forgetful.

The chef is from Sweden and has worked in a variety of Capella Hotel dining rooms around the world.

The walls and floor of the men’s room are covered with very large dark tiles, streaked with tan and white streaks and slashes. The marble countertop is of a similar style. There are two ceramic wash basins in the countertop. There are round mirrors over each wash basin, each circled by a light all the way around the mirror. There are two circular wall-hanging urinals, with floor to ceiling walls between them and the countertop. There is a totally enclosed commode room with a single white commode.

There is valet parking.

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