Boy, was I spoiled last week.
Not only did I have the unbelievable pleasure of meeting artist Robin Hill, I also enjoyed the newest fall menu additions at the Fairfax Hotel Grille & Lounge.
Let’s start with the art. Australian artist Robin Hill is represented by Studio E Partners, a local DC partnership that showcases artists in a different way than your traditional galleries. Studio E is all about making art more approachable and accessible. As such, you will find their clients’ work at pop-up galleries, artists’ privates homes, and different venues nationwide.
On Thursday, art-loving guests were invited to view the exquisite pieces by Robin Hill at the Fairfax Hotel on Embassy Row.
We sipped chilled Prosecco and admired Robin’s stunning portraits as he spoke to us about his Australian/English/Virginia countryside influence and avid history of bird watching. At the conclusion, a small group of us (including Robin) were led into the Fairfax Grille and Lounge for dinner. Trivia fact: the private room in which we dined was the same room where Hillary announced her first run for the 2008 presidency!
At each place setting was a custom “Artful Evenings” dinner menu. To start, we chose between a mixed greens salad and a crab & corn chowder with garlic toast points. As someone who is keenly aware of my impending wedding dress measurements, I went for the salad, though my dining mates were kind enough to let me sample the chowder.
The chowder was savory and sumptuous, with a hint of sweetness. But don’t feel sorry for me – the mixed greens salad exceeded its ordinary title with an amazing dressing and crisp, fresh veggies. I cleaned my plate and had plenty of appetite left for my entree.
There were three choices for the main course: Yankee Pot Roast, Chesapeake Crab Cakes and Fusilli Pasta with basil pesto for the carb lovers. Our table overwhelmingly opted for the crab cakes, though Robin’s wife Marsha smartly ordered the pot roast. All the main dishes were served with fingerling potatoes and seasonal vegetables from our very own Dupont Farmers Market! Hashtag eat local.
Maybe this is a personal thing, but I feel that crab cakes can be made or broken based on the sauce with which they are served. Chef and Beverage Director Duane DuPrey nailed it with this lemony heaven of an aioli. The crab cakes were chock full of meat and full of that oh-so-irreplaceable Chesapeake flavor. Chef DuPrey assured me these are a year-round menu item, unlike some of their other seasonal specialties. Phew.
For dessert, I tried the cheesecake and ordered a pot of their jasmine green and ginger tea. The dessert presentation was beautiful and the toasted pecans were excellent, though the cheesecake itself was a bit dry. I’m not a huge dessert person to begin with, but I think next time I would try a fruit-based dessert, like the Pear Frangipane with caramel drizzle. Pear desserts in the cold months never disappoint.
If I left with one realization, it would be that the Fairfax Grille & Lounge is not a hotel-guests-only destination. It is ideal for an after-work cocktail, an intimate date night, or a special occasion outing with a big group. I’m not sure if this is true in all cities, but in DC, restaurants in hotels tend to have above-average service and top tier menus; the Fairfax is no exception. It is high time for this restaurant to be on the foodie radar.