Photos By Joseph Franco, Words By Logan Hollers
Let’s face it: Georgetown’s super bougey. It’s also out of the way for most of D.C. and semi-inaccessible. Unless you live there (or go to school at Georgetown), you’re probably not making your way over there for a casual drink or bite to eat. That could change.
The Rosewood Hotel (formerly the Capella Hotel) recently opened its stunning rooftop to the general public. Whereas before the roof was open only to hotel guests, anyone can now stop up for some craft cocktails and one of the finest views in DC, a full 270 degree field of view that includes the Kennedy Center, the National Mall, and Arlington across the river. Infinity pool’s still for guests only, though – sorry.
But the real draw is the hotel’s restaurant The Grill Room, helmed by Executive Chef Frank Ruta, which absolutely deserves to be a destination for D.C. residents.
Chef Ruta’s resume is impeccable: he graduated second in his class at the American Culinary Federation’s Pittsburgh chapter, and has worked at a two-star Michelin restaurant in Merano, Italy. And, oh yeah, he’s also a former White House chef (which led to some great behind-the-scenes stories; i.e., George W. Bush hates broccoli). The closure of his restaurant Palena in 2014 sent ripples through the DC dining community; his taking over the kitchen at The Grill Room signaled a focus by the Rosewood on the restaurant portion of the property.
BYT recently stopped by to sample some of Chef Ruta’s late summer menu, highlighting the produce and bounty of the summer.
The epitome of summer? Tomatoes. Chef Ruta’s Heirloom Tomato Fantasy salad showcases the delicious vegetable, pairing heirloom tomatoes with sweet summer corn, a roasted corn gelée, avocado bavaroise (a thickened avocado cream), and a light heirloom tomato gazpacho. This pairing works about as well as you think it would – the bright acidity of the ripe tomatoes is a great match for the sugars of the corn and richness of the avocado. Also appreciated: the fantastic bread served alongside (though, seriously D.C. restaurants, ENOUGH with the cold butter…serve that shit at room temp, please).
Also offered is a fluke crudo; the thick, meaty fish is a welcome change from the usual paper-think slices available at most restaurants. The star of the plate is a cranberry been purée, simultaneously sweet and salty, and loaded with umami. Thin strips of fried eggplant and a tomato seed vinaigrette add acidity and brightness.
Diners would be remiss to pass on the Hudson Valley squab breast. Crisp-seared skin gives way to rare and rosy meat with the *slightest* touch of pleasant gaminess. Served with meaty porcini mushrooms, oven roasted shishito peppers, and a Tunisian honey and hazelnut oil, the dish is made even more luxurious with thinly-shaved black truffle, their aroma heady and rich.
You guys know I don’t like desserts. But when the person preparing that dessert is Aggie Chin (of RAMMY and James Beard fame), you try the damn dessert. And thank goodness I did. Apparently Chef Chin also got the memo re: summer, as her So Corny dessert was a master study in the summer vegetable. A sweet corn brûlée, corn ice cream, cornmeal sable, blackberries, and a yogurt crémeux; texture, flavor, crunch, cream, sweet, salty…this dessert has it all.
Also, mad props to the sommelier, Keith Goldson. One of the only Master Sommeliers in the DC area, Goldson was ace at pairing interesting and delicious wines with the courses. Highly recommend using his services should you dine here.
Georgetown’s out of the way, sure. The Grill Room is worth the trek.