Sunday, June 13, 2010

Snapshots of Washington DC

Washington MonumentIt was quite a change from chilly, windy and rain-soaked San Francisco. A blast of heat hit me as I exited the air-conditioned interiors of Dulles airport. Washington DC was in the midst of a hot, hot summer! The road from the airport was hemmed in by construction signs, half-complete concrete structures with men in yellow hard-hats busy at work - a usual sight in Indian cities, but rarely seen in the western world now. Apparently, they are extending a metro line here and adding a few stations.

St. Regis in DCThe St. Regis in Washington DC is two blocks from the White House and has seen many heads of state pass through its doors during the 84 years of its existance. Designed to outdo the best European hotels of its time, the hotel was much frequented by President Truman in the 50s. President Reagan was a regular visitor here and Robert Kennedy swore by the hotel's chocolate parfait. The hotel was then known as The Carlton. Even now, the hotel's luxurious lobby, the modest sized rooms and baths hint at its old-world legacy. That has, of course, been augmented by the most modern ameneties - such as the 'magic' mirror, a part of which turns into a television screen at the touch of a button on the remote!

St. Regis in DC
Magic mirror tv in St. RegisThe St. Regis in DC is also home to Alain Ducasse's Adour, a restaurant that brings the acclaimed chef's talent to the capital city. Comfortable white leather chairs and large illuminated wine racks on either side of the dining room create a very modern and contemporary ambiance in this old-world hotel.

Alain Ducasse's Adour in DCThey served me three kinds of breads and two varieties of butter for me to nibble on as I surveyed the menu. I found the items I was eager to try - some of them had won awards recently. As I waited for my order to arrive, they served me an amuse bouche of chilled coconut and carrot soup which was spiced up nicely with chilli peppers.

Amuse at Adour in DCI started with their popular Maine Lobster Medallions. The lobster salad of chilled cauliflower and orzo with cavair cream was certainly worth the hype. Loved it!

Lobster medallions at Adour in DCThe roasted veal was a killer too! Succulent, fatty veal on a bed of morel mushrooms, English peas and natural jus made for the most amazing experience on the palate.

Roasted Veal Loin at Adour, DC
Finally, the Hazelnut Souffle with Orange Sorbet and Granite was pretty good too. Feather light souffle with a definite nutty flavor contrasted wonderfully with the intense tang of the sorbet. The freshly baked macaron selection and the dark chocolates made for a nice ending to a fine dinner.

Hazelnut souffle at Adour in DC
Fresh macarons in Adour, DCBy now, it was dark outside. The restaurant was now full of power brokers and business people in this nation's vibrant capital. There was a dinner party at the White House in full swing as I strolled around taking in sights that I have seen celebrated (even destroyed!) in Hollywood movies so many times.

White House at nightOn another day, the concierge directed me to Old Ebbitt Grill which dates back to 1856. Once a favorite of President Roosevelt, this bustling place - steps away from the White House - serves what they describe as upscale American saloon food.

Old Ebbitt Grill in DC
Oyster at Old Ebbitt Grill in DCI started off with two types of freshly shucked oysters on the half-shell. One, the Canadian St. Simon which was small, briny with a sweet finish, the Wellfleet from Cape Cod Bay which was larger and had a very briny finish. The Jumbo Lump Crab Cake I ordered after that was delicious on its bed of apple-jicama slaw, with roasted local asparagus and lemon aioli.

Jumbo crab cake at Old Ebbitt GrillThe rains arrived by the time I was ready to fly out of DC, bringing much need relief from the sweltering heat.


Lakshmi said...

It was pouring when I was in NYC and all my weekend trips to DC were washed away..good to see this post reminded me to put DC in my travel bucket list

Shantanu said...

@Lakshmi: Rains have been playing spoil-sport with me too. Mostly in San Francisco. I just escaped before the rains came down on DC!