The Smith, a modern American brasserie and bar with four Manhattan locations, is nearing its arrival at 901 F St. NW.
The massive 9,000-square-foot eatery replaces the shuttered McCormick & Schmick’s space, and The Smith’s partners Jeff Lefcourt and Michael Jacobs gave Eater a construction tour this week.
The floor-to-ceiling overhaul, designed by //3877 Architects, included adding glossy white subway tiling and patterned mosaic flooring.
Lighting is also a big part of the brand’s streamlined look, and Lefcourt promises a “warm glow” that’ll be seen from the street. The 200-seat restaurant will be open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and doors will swing out to patio seating once spring hits.
D.C. “was the perfect next city for us,” he explains, because the 10-year-old brand is already well known amongst D.C. residents traveling back and forth to New York City and vice versa.
The menu will have a local focus, integrating local breweries, wineries, and spirits (with some on draft), and East Coast oysters in its raw bar. Local materials are also integrated throughout, with ceilings made of reclaimed wood from a nearby barn.
Expect similar fare to what’s found at its sister spots, like steaks, salads, steamed mussels, and comfort food like mac and cheese. The New York locales also have a huge brunch component, and he hopes to capitalize on D.C.’s shared love for the weekend meal. Serving its own purified sparkling and still water is another commonality, first conceived at its East Village restaurant back in 2007.
He calls The Smith a “happy” place, where “even going to the bathroom can be fun.” A photo booth will be installed near the bathroom entrance, and washing one’s hands will even be a playful (and voyeuristic) experience: men and women can see one another across the way through a glass-and-steel window wall.
Picking the historic Gallup Building as its first D.C. home made sense, as all their restaurants go for an “old pair of blue jeans you love” kind of feel. (The wait staff themselves are dressed in blue jeans and white button-up shirts.) The team turned down recently-built spaces like one at CityCenterDC, adds Jacobs.
The renovation required building out a new kitchen, with the only McCormick’s remnant being the exhaust stack. A complex tap system reaching its lengthy black bar will offer several cocktails on draft, like a Boulevardier (a Negroni variation with wood barrel-aged bourbon). A new addition will be ginger beer on tap to create Moscow Mules.
The Smith’s not the only New York-based concept to try D.C. on for size this year; sports bar Prospect 21 recently opened its first spot outside the Big Apple a couple blocks down F Street.