Equinox chef Todd Gray and his wife, restaurant co-owner Ellen Gray, have fond memories of two D.C. institutions in particular: Jean Louis, the eponymous restaurant from Jean Louis Palladin (which closed at the Watergate in 1996), and La Colline (the Capitol Hill French restaurant closed in 2006). Ellen Gray shared the couple's memories via email.
"Jean Louis once was entertaining/hosting The Black Caucus, so he cooked seven courses of all black dishes including squid ink papperdelli, black truffles and even the rare black breed of chicken that he smuggled into the county. The squid ink pasta stuck around in DC for a long time afterwards... He was also known for his pumpkin soup with wood pigeon quenelle and truffles (where Todd gained his love of truffles). Another infamous dish was his vegetarian artichoke terrine with red pepper and eggplant and yellow pepper coulis. The plate was designed using peppers to resemble flowers and petals and chives to represent a flowering plant."
Robert [Greaultat] at La Colline — he started a bouillabaisse at his first restaurant called La Bagatelle — it was a painstaking process of julienned leeks simmering in tomatoes saffron and white wine that was the marinade to an array of fresh fish and shellfish. At La Colline, he sautéed veal loin bathed in a sauce of morel mushrooms and armagnac cream and finished with red wine veal reduction...'Sick!" as Todd says! That was his [Todd's] first job in DC."