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Secluded Embassy Row Restaurant Hopes to Be Dupont’s New Place for Small Plates

The Sally is now open at the redesigned Fairfax hotel

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The Sally, tucked inside Dupont Circle’s newly revamped Fairfax on Embassy Row, quietly opened late last month.
Jim Tetro/Jim Tetro Architectural Photography
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

The Sally, a new restaurant at the redesigned Fairfax hotel at Embassy Row, is now serving sharable American plates in a sleek, lounge-style space.

The restaurant resides inside the 259-room hotel at 2100 Massachusetts Avenue NW. Past iterations of the 90-year-old venue have hosted U.S. presidents from Dwight Eisenhower to George H.W. Bush.

The Sally quietly began service a few weeks ago. It’s named after Sally Fairfax, a member of the prominent 18th century Fairfax family who was close with George Washington. Cheese and meats at the restaurant come from Liberty Delight Farms in Baltimore County. The produce landing on matte black plates is plucked from the Dupont Circle Farmers Market.

Executive chef Ricardo Planas is a hotel restaurant vet, having worked at The Willard’s Cafe du Parc, Jean Louis at The Watergate Hotel, and Four Seasons in Costa Rica. The cocktail menu is built by Davide Crusoe, a Las Vegas-based director of concept restaurants with Pyramid Hotel Group.

The menu is designed for diners to order two to three plates per person. Some of the small plates offered are roasted beets with fennel, goat cheese, pistachios, and citrus vinaigrette; ahi tuna with kimchi salad and avocado-ginger puree; and lobster ceviche with serrano chiles and grapefruit pearls.

Saffron potato gnocchi with wild mushroom, baby kale, and truffle fondue is one of the most popular orders at Sally so far.
Jim Tetro/Jim Tetro Architectural Photography
Liberty Delight Farms striploin with butternut squash and charmoula sauce.
Jim Tetro/Jim Tetro Architectural Photography
The Sally’s list of $12 D.C.-themed cocktails, like the Rickey on the Row and The Lady From Georgetown, integrate lots of lime and egg elements.
Jim Tetro/Jim Tetro Architectural Photography
The Sally executive chef Ricardo Planas is classically trained in French cuisine.
Jim Tetro/Jim Tetro Architectural Photography

The growing dessert menu includes chocolate mousse along with homemade ice creams and sorbets spun to order with a Swiss-made Pacojet machine.

“Guests do business with all the embassies, so sometimes it’s just coming in to sit down, have a drink, or relax after a day of meetings,” Planas says of the VIP-friendly restaurant, which is hidden from the street and accessed from the main lobby.

The bar has already seen lots of action between locals and hotel guests. A visiting wedding party killed an entire bottle of pricey 12-year Pappy Van Winkle over the weekend, Planas reports.

“We want to be a neighborhood place, and I think we can and will be,” he says.

The Market, a grab-and-go cafe and pantry on the opposite end of the entrance, sells coffee from Alexandria-based roasters at Swings Coffee. Pastries, breakfast sandwiches, beer, and wine are available there during the day.

The adjoining Nook is a library-style hangout with a pool table, a fireplace, and sectional couches. Hours at the Sally are 5 p.m. to 10 p.m to start, with the bar open until midnight.

D.C. got another hip hotel this month with the addition of Marriott’s Moxy downtown, which has a check-in counter that doubles as a bar in a lobby full of games.