Forget what you thought you knew about luxurious dining in DC (and Tom Sietsema’s first review of the place – his second one is better) and make sure to head to The Grill Room at the luxurious Capella Hotel in Georgetown the next time you want to treat yourself. Chef Jacob Esko has certainly settled into his groove and their Fall/Winter menu is something worth falling in love with over and over again. This high end hotel provides a high end, delicious, and over the top in the best way possible experience. From the clean and simple elegance in the decor, to the Taittinger champagne cart pairing, Chef Esko and The Grill Room team (not to mention Capella Hotel’s fantastic GM Alex Obertop) will be sure your every desire is catered toward.
For starters there is homemade bread, homemade butter, and roasted bone marrow? Yes, with the bread and butter. The crusty warm bread and homemade room temperature salted butter were delicious on their own. Then add the unctuous, salty, creamy bone marrow and it’s a match in heaven. I’d like to start every meal this way.
Next came a sea welck piped with smoked mashed potatoes and topped with caviar on a sugar cane skewer served inside the shell. Not only was this one bite salty and smoky with a perfect taste of the ocean, it was visually stunning. Paired with tuna tartare and homemade smoked red bell pepper ice cream, these are two of the most memorable bites I have enjoyed in DC in about a year. Honestly, I do not know how Chef Esko achieved such a perfect rich roasted red bell pepper taste in the ice cream, but it was unmistakable.
Following and paired with a nice hoppy IPA was a chopped oyster with pork belly on a bed of sea salt, pink peppercorns and other aromatics with a beer foam on top. While I appreciated the contrast in flavors the Chef was going for, and they were reached, this was not my favorite bite. The salty oyster and pork belly were overpowered from the hoppiness of the beer foam. Creative and visually appealing, this specific taste just wasn’t my favorite.
A autumn salad with warm beets and local goat cheese cream, toasted nuts and fennel chips with a chestnut honey vinaigrette made for a crisp and refreshing course. The local goat cheese is strong, creamy, and pairs perfectly with the tart fennel.
Moving on, the seafood here is as fresh as can be. The roasted Rock Fish (striped bass) with smoked tomato butter sauce and grilled baby octopus is perfect. The Rock Fish is firm, almost steak-like, yet very tender. Cooked perfectly where the skin was as crisp as a potato chip. Octopus can easily be overcooked and chewy, this was not one of those times. The char on the octopus delivered a smoky flavor while remaining very delicate with a great mouth-feel. Served on a bed of pumpkin risotto, which typically lacks all pumpkin flavor, this was perfect. The arboreal rice was plump and the sauce was rich and creamy.
Rounding out the savory courses was a braised veal shank (with the bone, roasted, and marrow fully intact) served over wild mushroom risotto and diced firm tomatoes. Not only did the meat fall apart with a fork, but the rich sauce was cut nicely by the tomatoes and complimented perfectly with creamy risotto. Not only was this easily one of the best veal shanks I’ve ever had, but whenever the rich and tender veal on its own wasn’t enough, you can just spread some bone marrow ontop.
The meal ended with a key lime semifreddo over crushed hazelnuts and watermelon faux caviar drops.
Each course was beautiful, the tastes were exquisite, the atmosphere was gorgeous and elegant without being pretentious. Chef Esko continues to amaze me and The Grill Room has become my go-to dinner choice for a meal that is guaranteed to wow.