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September 9, 2009updated Jul 16, 2015

The Jefferson Dishes up New Venues for DC Gourmets

By Pardhasaradhi Gonuguntla

From the exquisite cuisine of Plume to the exceptional cocktails of Quill, The Jefferson, Washington, DC is home to one of the most dynamic pairings on the Washington culinary front. With British-born Executive Chef Damon Gordon at the helm, Plume is destined to be one of the finest restaurants in the capital when the hotel reopens August 31, 2009, while Quill rests its credentials on the steady, inspired hand of its head bartender, Alex Holzer.

With its private nooks and crackling fireplace, Plume creates a discreet, elegant backdrop for Chef Gordon’s considerable culinary talents. Chef Gordon – whose award-studded career has spanned from the U.K.’s Michelin-starred Waterside Inn to New York City’s Mix with Alain Ducasse – has created enticing seasonal menus for Plume, executing classic dishes with lighter, contemporary finishes, and drawing deeply from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello harvest for inspiration.

Surrounded by a view of Monticello’s south vineyard, hand-painted in sepia tones on Plume’s silk-lined walls, guests dine on enticing appetizers such as a Gunpowder Tea Smoked Organic Shrimp served with fennel confit, arugula, sea urchin and citrus granite, and a Feuilleté of Caramelized Veal Sweetbreads with seasonal summer mushrooms, chervil and light vanilla velouté. Entrees range from a Risotto of Maryland Crab with licorice and braised baby vegetables to Medallions of Berkshire Pork with pommes dauphine, apricots, and glacé turnips in a diable reduction.

Plume’s intimacy extends to a chef’s table in the kitchen proper. Here, guests can enjoy a firsthand look at the workings of a world-class kitchen.

The Greenhouse
Washington power breakfasts and express lunches are served daily in The Greenhouse, so named for the historic 1923 vaulted skylight that bathes the dining area in natural light. Within this airy, informal setting, guests are treated to light, fresh and energizing fare by Chef Gordon. Breakfast indulgences such as Lemon Ricotta Pancakes and Lobster Eggs Benedict share the menu with healthy offerings such as smoothies and a “power” crunch granola – all house-made. At lunch, appetizers such as Salmon Tartar with Crème Fraîche embellished with tobiko, chives and pink grapefruit, set the stage for entrees that range from a sophisticated twist on macaroni and cheese to a classic Niçoise Salad with seared tuna, quail eggs and traditional garnishes.

The Jefferson’s elegant lounge is the place to enjoy expertly poured drinks and fine conversation. House-made mixers and herbal-infused alcohols highlight an inspired cocktail menu by head bartender Alex Holzer, formerly of Rome’s legendary La Pergola. Among his signature drinks for Quill is a Papaya, Pepper and Prosecco with fresh red flesh papaya, orange, lime, white pepper and prosecco. On the savory side, a Zero Eight is concocted of rosé vermouth, white grapes, angostura and champagne. These are complemented by a selection of tapas by Chef Gordon that range from Foie Gras “BonBons” with pistachio croquant and lemon brioche to Baked Mussels with Chorizo. Classic bar favorites include an expertly crafted Turkey Club, a traditional Caesar Salad and Ground Dry-Aged Sirloin Burger.

A spectacular bar of hand-molded glass, lit from within, imbues the lounge with an amber glow, while a collection of 18th-century maps on the walls follow Thomas Jefferson’s journey through the wine regions of Europe. In warmer weather, Quill’s terrace provides an al fresco setting for cigars and cognacs.

Private Cellar
Inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s passion for collecting and enjoying fine wines, Plume’s private dining room seats up to 18 guests beneath a plaster groin-vaulted ceiling. Walls are lined with private wine lockers and display cabinets, while a dumbwaiter, fashioned after the original Thomas Jefferson designed for his Monticello study, conveys bottles from the cellar to the table. The Jefferson’s impressive wine cellar is stocked with more than 1,000 labels.

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