Watershed, a seafood restaurant from husband-and-wife restaurateur team Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray, officially opens today in NoMa after a brief soft opening. Based out of the Hilton Garden Inn (also brand new and open today), the restaurant features chef Todd Gray's take on the cuisine of the East Coast watershed — and it also represents a departure not only for the neighborhood but for the restaurateurs themselves.
NoMa has been growing in recent years with the addition of Kushi, Taylor Gourmet and other restaurants, but Kassoff Gray says the neighborhood caught the duo's eye because they saw it as one they could help shape. And that's fitting because they were looking to do some reshaping themselves — after all, their 10-year-old fine dining establishment with proximity to the White House had grown into a power hub where their patrons had come to expect things done in a certain way. Watershed was a chance to try something new.
As you might expect from a seafood restaurant, Watershed's design channels the sea with cool hues of blue and green. As a hotel restaurant, breakfast is big here with omelettes, eggs Benedict, brioche French toast and more — but the breakfast buffet converts into a chef's table at night. A large patio space is decked out with a waterfall and is flanked by tall apartment and office buildings.
And the first thing you see when you walk up the hotel stairs to Watershed's entrance is a raw bar. Not just oysters and shrimp, but Gray says he plans to serve everything from crudo and beef tartare to a cabbage, mango and daikon salad. The dinner menu is chockablock with classic seafood items like Maine mussels, New England clam chowder, catfish and oyster sandwiches, Carolina-style barbecued shrimp, grilled swordfish and crab cakes — with, of course, a few nods to meat-eaters through pork ribs and New York strip.
Desserts are classic — a key lime tart and New York-style cheesecake served in a jar, for example, while cocktails take on a bit of a twist. Given a little latitude from the traditional beverage program at Equinox, Simo Ahmadi created a series of cocktails representing some of the District's developing neighborhoods like the NoMa Blend, made with Stoli Ohranj, lemon and soda, and the Eckington punch, which changes daily.
Full menus are available on Watershed's website. They're fully open for reservations as of today—and you can even get in on an Easter brunch this weekend.