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By Michael Hepworth

According to those who know these things, when George W. Bush was President the town used to close down at 9 pm , apparently the time the former President used to go to bed. I don’t really know if that was a broad generalization, but with a new crowd in town the place is now really jumping, and at the forefront of that change from traditional to hip is the W-Hotel on the site of the historic Hotel Washington.  Now called the W Washington D.C. it is the closest hotel to the White House, and a first time walk into the lobby makes you realize the true meaning of a power vibe. It was the only hotel in Washington DC that Elvis ever stayed at, and it was room 518 where he composed the famous letter to Richard Nixon successfully requesting a special meeting to become a Bureau of Narcotics special agent.

A visit there in May confirmed the image they are trying to promote, which is “Capital Cool.” Designer Dianna Wong from Los Angeles was charged with the difficult job of maintaining a strong sense of tradition for a hotel dating back to 1883, and combining it with a modern chic. Total amount for renovation was $90 million and the few days I stayed there occupancy was 100%. And that chic is ably represented by spending a couple of hours on the rooftop bar which is now named P.O.V. (Point of View) with an unfettered view of the White House and other Washington landmarks, particularly impressive at night. Yes you might be sharing a table with the secret service without knowing it as they look for snipers, but that is part of the attraction. The lines start downstairs at the lobby level, and I you have enough political clout, always an asset in this town you will be hustled up to the bar in the rather cramped elevator.

Without a reservation to the 108 seater bar you might have a bit of a wait. Best time to go is early in the week or if you have to go during the busy nights then check it out real early or after midnight . Cocktails have been created by mix-master Sacha Petraske and have been described as retro-cocktail or neo-speakeasy and are priced at $15. The bar food is pretty good and check out the spicy chicken samosas or the gourmet burger.  The signature restaurant at the W and one of the hottest venues in town is the J&G Steakhouse, under the direction of experienced Michelin starred chef Jean-Georges Vongeritchen. This is actually his 27th restaurant, and he obviously knows what he is doing, since J&G was officially voted the 4th best restaurant in Washington DC by the Smithsonian magazine. He has brought over some of his favorite dishes from his New York restaurants, including the premium meats char grilled to perfection. Fish and sea food is sourced from all over the world and quality of the ingredients is paramount here.

Head chef is the Michelin starred Phillipe Reininger, and both of them help create classic dishes with a worldly twist to create a “power meal,” yet another new culinary term. Inside there are 96 seats strategically placed to avoid eavesdropping, along with 76 outside patio seats.  Featuring the murals of Julie Chang of San Francisco adorning the ceilings and walls, the press release describes the atmosphere perfectly, “an interplay between historic restraint and modern sensuality”.

Our meal started out with a rice cracker tuna w/chili sauce and was followed with an excellent and very spicy salmon tartar in soy sauce and fresh radish. I found this starter extremely flavorful as was the pan seared scallop with peas and bacon and a dash of lime. I like any chef who uses this versatile fruit that gives any dish an extra zest.  Then we tried the steamed Maine lobster ($38) with a passion fruit emulsion w/asparagus and crispy potatoes. The 24oz bone-in rib eye steak ($54) was split in two and exemplified the high quality of the steaks served here.  Service at J&G is exceptional as you would imagine, and a word about the desserts here.  Signature dish of chef is one he invented, poached pear, and he warm chocolate cake is a must choice for the Washington foodies. The restaurant features an early pre-theatre dinner for $35 and a tasting menu for $65.

Fact Sheet

W Washington

Address: Pennsylvania Ave at 15th Street NW , Washington D.C. 20004

Phone: (202) 661-2400, (877) 822-0000 for special offers

Website: www.whotels.com


J&G Steakhouse

Phone: (202) 661-2440

Website: www.jgsteakhousewashingtondc.com



































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