A more stylish Charlie Palmer Steak — complete with plush furnishings, gourmet fare, and boozy cocktails — awaits expense-account diners looking for a change of pace.
It’s the power dining spot’s first major makeover since taking up residence directly across from the Capitol in 2003. Restaurateur Charlie Palmer describes the overall redesign, which debuted October 10, in one word: “comfortable.”
“The longer I am in this business the longer I realize we need to create comfort for people in dining rooms,” the hospitality vet tells Eater.
The space is outfitted with brand new furniture, including textured turquoise chairs and circular glowing light fixtures. Hospitality designer Barbara Gisel of BGD Interior Design handled the transformation. Walls also got a refresh with new art, including photography from American-based artists.
The drinks and food menu got a revamp, too. A new rotating selection of three-ounce cuts of Japanese beef are served on blocks of Himalayan rock salt. Wagyu also appears at Palmer’s Las Vegas and New York locations, but it’s rarely offered at the Capitol Hill outpost.
“We have always been respected as a really high-end and modern steakhouse in D.C. and all locations,” says Palmer. “To stay at that caliber ... we always want to step up our game to remain at the forefront.”
The renovation virtually coincides with the return of executive chef Mike Ellis, who’s also worked at Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen in Sonoma County; Ellis moved across the country last summer for the professional homecoming.
During dinner service, politically connected regulars can snack on premium dairy products plucked from a mahogany cheese cart roaming around the dining room. It’s stocked with 10 small-batch cheeses from East Coast and West Coast purveyors; Buche Ash from Pipe Dreams Fromage in Pennsylvania is paired with Blanc de Chardonnay from Virginia, for example. Sommelier Nadine Brown just scored a RAMMYs win for wine program of the year; the restaurant boasts wines sourced from all 50 states. But wines aren’t the only accompaniments to cheese; there’s also a whiskey and cider option.
“We are really working hard on the pairings and what we should drink with cheeses,” says Palmer.
Ellis spent the summer crafting a lineup of condiments served in mason jars, which includes traditional apple butter as well as pink peppercorn marmalade.
Ellis also has a new seasonal ‘Cut of the Week’ menu, featuring a handpicked cut of meat with a first course and family-style sides with "bottomless wine pairings" for $58 per person.
“The spirits world is blowing up. It’s never been a better time to create incredible cocktails,” Palmer says.
Palmer charged some of his New York-based bar staff to craft new cocktails for D.C. The refreshed cocktail menu pays homage to small-batch spirits producers, with new selections including The Other Side (ocean vodka, hibiscus syrup, lime, tonic) and Devil’s Fruit (Green Hat Gin, blackberry shrub, bitter lemon soda, lemongrass bubbles).
Keeping sound quality high was also a key part of the sweeping renovation.
“We are a restaurant where conversation is important — socially and for business,” says Palmer.