One of the city’s top tables, the 1789 is the standard bearer for Old World charm. The restaurant’s six dining rooms occupy a renovated Federal-period house on a back street in Georgetown. Equestrian and historical prints, tables laid with Limoges china and silver, and antique furnishings throughout add touches of elegance. Women usually dress up and men are advised to wear jackets (the staff have lender attire for those who forget). Romancing couples, like Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban, world leaders, like President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and locals celebrating birthdays and anniversaries are among those who dine here for the intimate atmosphere and sense of momentousness the 1789 confers upon any occasion.
The kitchen has seen chefs come and go in the past few years, but the 1789, at 58 years old, is an old hand at handling change. Its cuisine has always been and always will be American, the emphasis more and more on produce purchased from local farms, and meats, seafood, and poultry bought “direct from their native regions.” As classically formal as the 1789 is, wry touches of modern life pop up here and there: the roasted sablefish is treated with “everything bagel spices,” and there is a “beet Wellington” on the menu, with beets, mushrooms duxelles, and roasted mushrooms taking the place of beef in the puff pastry. One thing you can be sure of is that your meal will be luscious.
- Elise Hartman Ford