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Fancy Ice, Tableside Tartare at Capella's The Grill Room

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[Photo: R. Lopez]

The Grill Room and Rye Bar are opening within the Capella Hotel March 22, and the luxury touches they're promising to include have already attracted some attention. Rare rye whiskeys. An artisan ice program, featuring such tools as ice presses and whiskey stones. A champagne cart.

Eater took a tour of the space, still under construction, this week, to get a better sense of the decor and the plans of chef Jakob Esko. The Rye Bar isn't aiming to have the most extensive collection of rye whiskeys in the city, explained food and beverage director Will Rentschler: they know they're competing with places like Jack Rose. "We're trying to showcase those that are unique and different, that a traveling person might not be able to get in New York or L.A.," he said. The bar has walnut paneling and a backlit honey onyx bar. There is a private car entrance that can access both the bar and the presidential suites, encouraging V.I.P.s with security concerns to frequent the location. An outdoor patio for both the bar and the restaurant will be completely shaded, and the hotel hopes it will be a lunchtime hot spot for Georgetown in general, rather than just hotel guests. A stairwell leads downstairs from the bar to The Board Room, a private dining area that seats 16.
The cocktail program emphasizes several tools to help create drinks. Mojitos are made with a Brazillian wood mallet and a bag that absorbs water generated by the crushed ice. Stainless steel cubes are used for ice as to not dilute higher-end whiskeys, and a milled aluminum ice press condenses a cube into a dense sphere that melts less quickly than a traditional cube. The 30-seat Rye Bar will serve small plates of food, some of them enhanced with the addition of whiskey to the recipes — in the winter, that may mean dishes like braised oxtail and bone marrow.

Over at The Grill Room next door, a private dining room with etched glass windows and shelves for books and handblown glasses is a focal point. The glass provides partial privacy for those using it, while curtains can be drawn to create further discretion. Banquette seating and chairs provide deep purple accents. The wood from the floor used to be part of a French chateau.

Each restaurant in a Capella hotel has a different theme and style — other hotels around the world serve high-end Mexican or Asian inspired fare. Here, the food is American, but with influences from Chef Esko's time working in places like Singapore and from his native Sweden. That translates into dishes like gravlax with fennel compote (the menu will change frequently). There are interactive dishes planned, too, including a cart for tableside beef tartare, and for slicing a cote de boeuf. A dessert cart will come around at both lunch and dinner, offering a selection of choices.

Check out the gallery above to see the results from the ice press, Esko at work on the gravlax dish, and the Rye Bar under construction.

· All Previous Coverage of The Grill Room [-EDC-]

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