clock menu more-arrow no yes
A large white couch is the centerpiece of a dark dining room filled with abstract art at Lyle’s
White couches steal the show in Lyle’s dining room.
Greg Powers/Lyle

Filed under:

Inside Lyle’s, a Revamped Hotel Restaurant in Dupont That Oozes Art Deco Cool

An ownership group with an eye for luxury added a wine-proof white couch, Japanese-style lanterns, and lots of abstract art

Leave it to London-based Lore Group, the international hotel company behind the opulent Riggs in Penn Quarter, to put a luxury touch on Lyle DC. The renovated, 196-room property with a supposedly simple Contemporary American restaurant and bar inside opened today (Thursday, April 15) in Dupont Circle.

Lore Group creative director Jacu Strauss led the aesthetic makeover of the former Kimpton Carlyle hotel that used to house Michael Schlow’s retro-style Riggsby grill, which has plans to relocate to Bethesda. Strauss, an architect and interiors expert, lent his own artistic talents for the Lyle hotel, painting 37 abstract pieces sporting red-and-black shapes from his “studio” on the roof of Lyle’s sibling hotel downtown. That property, a historic bank-turned-hotel with an extravagant brasserie inside, marked Lore’s first splash into the D.C. market last year after building a name overseas with Pulitzer Amsterdam and Sea Containers London.

The visual star of the show in the dining room at Lyle’s restaurant and bar (1731 New Hampshire Avenue NW) isn’t Strauss’s artwork on the soft cork-covered walls, however. It’s the massive white, pillowy couch that runs through the center of the floor. The color is an aggressive choice for a full-service restaurant, but “we needed a bright centerpiece,” Strauss insists. “And everyone looks so good in it.”

Lore Group creative director Jacu Strauss molded a sign at Lyle’s out of clay.
Lore Group creative director Jacu Strauss molded a sign at Lyle’s out of clay.
Greg Powers/Lyle
Soft walls made entirely of cork create texture and help with sound absorption.
Greg Powers/Lyle

A Lore colleague “sacrificed” a glass of red wine on the couch to test the stain-resistant fabric from manufacturer Kravet. It “wiped right off,” Strauss says. That’s good news, considering the 20 reds by the bottle (six by the glass) at Lyle’s. Wine prices aren’t too steep, either, starting at $9 by the glass and $32 by the bottle. Because nothing is indestructible, however, the couch covers are thankfully removable and washable.

Chef Nicholas Sharpe’s menu aims to create a reliable neighborhood atmosphere with options running from an approachable white cheddar cheeseburger with Thousand Island dressing to a delicate scallop crudo that’s all dressed up in green (jalapeno, green apple, and yuzu). A gem lettuce salad with shaved vegetables and avocado in a “vegan” coconut ranch will likely be a popular order. A gluten-free fried chicken gets rested overnight in potato starch, coated with rice flour, and served with hot honey, sunchoke, and pickled vegetables.

Lyle’s sells an approachable white cheddar cheeseburger with Thousand Island dressing
Lyle’s sells an approachable white cheddar cheeseburger with Thousand Island dressing
Scott Suchman/For Lyle’s
A little gem and avocado salad with vegan coconut ranch dressing from Lyle’s
A little gem and avocado salad with vegan coconut ranch dressing from Lyle’s
Scott Suchman/For Lyle’s

Japanese-style lanterns designed by Herman Miller in the 1950s were innovative lighting accents for their time. The cloud-like fixtures floating above diners transition well from the day as “beautiful white orbs” to glowing pendants at night, Strauss says.

The redesign intentionally went for a high-end residential feel to harken back to the Art Deco building’s original life as an apartment in the 1940s, “which felt like the right thing to do,” Strauss says. The architect was going for the feel of a big house that belongs to an “aunt and uncle with very cool [and] contemporary taste,” he says.

Even the kitchen door’s small glass windows are covered with a red pigment to “add a warm color” when diners try to get a peek into the action from their seats. Upon entry, a midcentury modern bar is dotted with smooth brown leather banquettes and ottomans snaking through the space.

“We [wanted to] avoid any second class seating — every spot is special,” Strauss says.

Mid-century screening frames the open kitchen to cut down on light pollution from a diner’s perspective.
Mid-century screening frames the open kitchen to cut down on light pollution from a diner’s perspective.
Greg Powers/Lyle

A bar menu features a short list of drinking snacks like crispy artichokes, lamb meatballs, and smoked trout toast. All are meant to play well with throwback classics like a cacao Manhattan and a gin Collins accented with peach and basil.

Unlike a museum, the textures and fabrics at the hotel are meant to be enjoyed. Even some of the public areas feature suede walls. The bartop is made out of Italian Carrara, considered the Ferrari of marble. “We want people to touch things,” Strauss says.

There’s not a bad seat in the house at Lyle.
Greg Powers/Lyle

He says guests should interpret the paintings that took him nearly two months to create however they’d like.

“It’s almost a surreal landscape or a massive red rock floating,” Strauss says. “It makes you dream for a bit — [we] want people to dream a little more.”

Coming Attractions

20 Anticipated Fall Restaurant Openings to Track Around D.C.

DC Restaurant Closings

The D.C.-Area Bars and Restaurants That Have Closed During the COVID-19 Crisis

Awards

Winners at D.C.’s Tweaked Rammy Awards Get Their Due for Creative Pandemic Pivots

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Eater DC newsletter

The freshest news from the local food world