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Tony Bourbon Steak Leans Into Hip, Affordable Dining

New chef Drew Adams is trimming the fat all around

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Bourbon Steak executive chef Drew Adams
Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

Bourbon Steak, the sleek and sexy eatery restaurateur Michael Mina’s tucked inside the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown nearly a decade ago, is building towards the future with fewer splurges and express lunches.

Drew Adams is the months-old replacement to Joe Palma, who left big shoes to fill after transferring to Tysons Galleria’s gigantic new Isabella Eatery food hall last year. Adams’ new approach to the menu is simple: retain best sellers while sprinkling in additional foods he’d also like to eat.

“For me I love fine dining but I would rather go on my day off to a hipster restaurant or hole in the wall that is incredible,” he says.

Adams is drawing upon influences from the three Michelin-starred restaurants he’s cooked at (Plume, Rose’s Luxury, and the Dabney) to shake up the menu. Finding inspiration in Dabney chef Jeremiah Langhorne’s passion for Mid-Atlantic dining, Adams just added a new sweet-and-smoky South Carolina shrimp dish with Carolina gold rice, honey, bourbon, and garlic.

“It feels good and reminds me of when I was younger,” he says. “With grilled buttered bread you can’t go wrong.”

Braised short rib pappardelle with wagyu beef, rutabaga, and tarragon.
Photo: Bourbon Steak

A big change he’s implemented since taking the reins of the kitchen is trimming the steak menu, which formerly featured over two dozen cuts. He deleted the whole rib eye ($495) for example because it didn’t make economical sense to keep it around.

“What we are running can appeal to everyone,” he says. “You can come in and get an 8-ounce prime filet at a decent price or filet of rib at twice the price.”

For big spenders, there’s various high-end options including imported wagyu beef.

During lunch service he wants to cater to a fast-paced business crowd by circulating customers in less than an hour. That in-and-out meal option is expected to be implemented soon.

While it’s hard to lower prices in the main dining area, where tabs can be “twice as much” as D.C. spots such as Bresca and Rose’s Luxury, Bourbon Steak wants to make its bar offerings more budget friendly.

The weekend is the busiest time for locals to crowd into the lounge, he notes, where head bartender Torrence Swain is mixing up inventive hits like the seasonal Apple Cobbler with Rujero Signani, Laird’s applejack, apple butter syrup, and fresh lemon juice in a copper julep.

“We are trying to make it more fun and hip and a little more affordable for regular people to come in,” he says.

Some Bourbon Steak staples won’t go anywhere. The creamed spinach, black truffle mac and cheese, and twice-roasted potato are locals’ favorites, he says.

“And if I pulled the Caesar people would lose their lid,” he says.

Bourbon Steak’s tenth birthday is officially December 12, but the team is thinking of pushing a big bash to January when business is slower.

“In December we already do 800 covers a day,” he says.

There’s also a few staffing changes to report at the hotel: Four Seasons’ in-house restaurant Seasons hired Andrew Court as its new chef; he moved over from the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. And Adams is close to announcing his new sous chef; the former one left to work at International Smoke, the 33rd Mina-run restaurant that debuted last fall in San Francisco.

BSDC Dinner by Tierney Plumb on Scribd


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