A new cocktail bar catering to a crowd with a taste for Champagne, caviar, seafood towers, and foie gras opened its doors in Georgetown at the end of March. Donahue (1338 Wisconsin Avenue NW) moves into the space that used to house Smith Point, a former go-to for D.C.’s preppy, young Republican set.
The partners behind the new high-end lounge include Luca Giovannini, a former corporate beverage director for Fabio Trabocchi’s group of power dining restaurants; Cesar Varela, a sommelier and cellar master in the same company; and Noe Landini, the restaurateur whose family owns properties like Bar Deco and Junction Bakery & Bistro.
Junction chef James Duke put together a food menu that starts with a la carte snacks like salmon ‘nduja, Iberico ham that’s been cured for three years, and platters for charcuterie or cheese. A raw bar features oysters on the half shell, sashimis, and seafood towers built for two people ($90) or four ($160).
The exorbitant theme continues in a section of plates listed under “New American Inspiration.” King crab gets paired with a 62-degree egg and placed atop asparagus ricotta tortellini along with a dollop of salmon roe caviar. Duke explains the soft yolk of the egg is intended to coat the pasta, acting as an additional sauce. A platen of duck breast and duck confit has sweet and sour components thanks to cherry strudel, pickled cherry, and a generous helping of ricotta. Cherries again play a supporting role in a seared foie gras dish that includes cured pork belly and Asian pears doused in teriyaki sauce made in-house.
Cocktails ($14) riff on classics, reference Prohibition-era drinks, and provide some after-dinner options that can be ordered as alternatives for dessert. A signature Donahue feels appropriate for spring with vodka that’s been infused with roses, elderflower, rose vermouth, lemon champagne, and “rose air.” A Oaxaca Italiano that includes mezcal, yellow chartreuse, and Campari is an ideal patio sipper for when the outdoor space opens later this spring. Bottles of Champagne range from $100 to $410.
A well-dressed usher stationed by the entrance and a private room in the back add to the exclusive feel. Modern minimalist decor feels a little livelier with tropical techno thumping in the background.