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Words by Kaylee Dugan
Photos by Clarissa Villondo

Mirabelle isn’t just impressive, it’s intimidating. The decor hits the theme hard, making you feel as if you just walked into a Mad Men scene. Leather covers all of the chairs (and some of the walls) while gold and brass gleam throughout. It feels high powered. It feels like business.

But I can’t fault them for that. Perched on the corner of of 16th and I, Mirabelle is blocks from the White House and steps from the businesses that clutter K Street. It’s as downtown as humanly possible. It knows who it’s customers are going to be, which is why it’s kicking off with lunch. Dinner, brunch, and power breakfast menus will soon follow, but for now they’re focusing on the meal that matters most when you’re in this neighborhood.

And while the style of the restaurant is clearly an American throwback, the cocktail and food menus are thoroughly French inspired. Classic macarons and other French pastries are strewn throughout Chef Aggie Chin’s pastry menu, while former White House Chef Frank Ruta’s burger takes it’s cues from French onion soup. The wine list follows the trend, featuring only French and American wines, as does the bar, which offers French twist’s on classics like the Boulevardier as well as an extensive collection of absinthe and calvados.

Mirabelle has also revived the cart system. There will be a floating pastry cart stocked with Chef Chin’s creations and a Eau de Vie cart to show off all of the aforementioned calvados (and armagnac). The carts (which feature a beautiful mix of dark wood with gold highlights) play heavily into service and wine director Jennifer Knowles’ goal for the restaurants. Despite Mirabelle’s in your face interior (it’s beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but obviously flashy), Knowles subscribes to a more subtle view of service, where consistent big spenders and special occasion customers receive the same level of attention. From the non-alcoholic drinks to the three figure bottles of wine, everything at Mirabelle is presented in it’s own special way. The amount of thought and detail put into the linens and glassware is enough to make the mind spin.

I have no doubt that Mirabelle will succeed at pulling in business folks looking to impress, or even families celebrating special occasions, but based on the atmosphere, location, and lack of happy hour, I doubt this will be a go to spot for most of the BYT audience (myself included). It’s gorgeous and I understand why it exists, but I don’t think it was made for me.

My parents will probably love.

Mirabelle is located at 900 16th St NW and expected to open this March.

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