The Unexpected Luxury of the Old Hickory Steakhouse

This past weekend I decided to take a trip down to the National Harbor for dinner. The Old Hickory Steakhouse has a new February menu and they wanted us to preview the new dishes and wine pairings. As a DC local, I have sadly not spent much time in the National Harbor area, so I decided to hop in an uber and check it out for myself.

The Old Hickory Steakhouse is a restaurant located in the Gaylord National Resort & Convention center. Based on the name and location, I was not sure what type of dining environment the restaurant would be.  As it turns out, it is a fine dining steakhouse with a equally nice bar. It is located in the lobby of the Gaylord Resort, which is part of the Marriott hotel family.

Unfortunately, there happened to be a cheerleading competition that weekend at the convention center, so the lobby and lobby bar were packed with people. We had drinks at the Belvedere Bar in the hotel lobby, but it was far more convention center than it was hotel bar. So we quickly finished our drinks and headed to the Old Hickory Steakhouse. When we walked toward the restaurant we were greeted by this beautiful white wood and topiary entrance, centered between two lit lanterns. I was so impressed.

There was a warm entry way, with a fire place and super lush furniture. The decor was so beautiful! It reminded me of the Hamptons. It was full of clean lines, white marble, topiaries, cozy fabrics and modern lighting. It was really a breathe of fresh air for the otherwise generic convention center hotel.

When we checked in with the hostess there was a bit of a wait, but it gave me time to grab a glass of wine at the bar and take in the sights.  The vibe of the restaurant is nice but not stuffy. When I saw the bar in the Old Hickory Steakhouse, I had regretted not spending our cocktail hour in there. It was so well done. Even if you do not plan on eating here, the bar would be absolutely worth the visit. They have an extensive selections of wines, liquors and cheeses (which I am a total sucker for). This place would be great for drinks with the girls and the outside cigar patio is perfect for the boys.

We were sat at a back table in a giant room, overlooking the water and the Ferris wheel, it was picturesque. (If you go, request the view.) Once seated, our waiter Marc was providing us with drink recommendations and gave us a great rundown of the menu. They have a brand new menu for the month of February, with three courses including dessert and an optional wine pairing. Per Marc’s recommendation, we started out with a First Lady hibiscus champagne cocktail and an Old Fashioned, both were great.

Now it was time to order the food. We started with the Artisanal Cheeses, and from what I am told, they are a mainstay on the menu all year. An incredibly knowledgeable woman came by with the cheese cart and described each one to us. The display was beautiful. We settled on a truffle cheese, a sharp cheddar and  a powerful bleu cheese. They were accompanied with fig jam, honey combs, almonds and bread.

Our cheeses were paired with a Gaston Chiquet Brut (a sparkling wine). I love champagne, so that was a hit with me and the cheese that we chose were all fantastic. I strongly recommend ordering the cheese course. I was completely happy with the choices and production was simple but thoughtful.

Our second course, was the Gooseberries and Beets salad. I am not going to lie, I meant to order the Sunchoke Soup, but had the beet salad by mistake. Fortunately for me, it was a great mix up because the beet salad was delicious. I am admittedly not the biggest beet fan in the world. They sometimes verge on the side of too earthy for me. This was not the case here. The asparagus was mild and the goat cheese and balsamic drizzle really cut through the bitterness of the beets. Very well balanced.

For entrees, we had the Snake River Wagyu Beef Filet and the Chestnut Agnolotti. (I think it is only right for at least one person to order the steak when at a steakhouse.) The Chestnut Agnolotti were large square raviolis, dressed in warm cream sauce and topped with morel mushrooms and caramelized onions. I almost finished the entire thing. The pasta was perfectly al dente. It was rich, creamy and a great way to warm up from the cold.

The Snake River Wagyu Beef Filet was a big hit, literally.  Marc recommended preparing it at medium rare and it seemed to be the right call. The potatoes with truffle were delicious. Come to think of it, we didn’t consume many vegetables in this meal, but then again greens were not on our minds with this food. They do have other delicious sounding options on the menu, such as a duck breast, pan seared halibut and braised lamb shank. But we were clearly happy with our choices, because almost everything was gone from the plate.

The pasta was paired with a nice chianti and the steak was paired with brandy. The brandy was a bit much for us during such a large meal, but it was light and a nice touch.

 The plates were nearly cleaned and two full bellies remained. I was quickly realizing that this set menu was PLENTY of food for two and that I may have over done it on the delicious bread at the beginning of the meal. But alas, dessert was next.

I am a big crème brûlée fan, so naturally the Coffee Crème Brûlée was an easy choice for me. My friend is a cheesecake aficionado, so he ordered the Passion Fruit Cheesecake. The crème brûlée was perfect. It was the right amount of crunch from the caramelization and delicious creamy custard filling. If you are not a big coffee fan, do not fret , the flavor is not overwhelming and it simply highlighted the smokiness of the caramel. You would still enjoy it!

The Passion Fruit Cheesecake was not your classic cheesecake. The consistency is more that of a traditional cake, topped with a sweet thin layer of passion fruit and a chocolate curl, alongside cherries. It was a beautiful display, but in the end due to the cheesecakes variation from the classic, the crème brûlée reigned supreme.

The Scharffenberger Brut Rose that accompanied our dessert was my favorite of the night. We ended up having a second glass, that Marc so graciously offered to us.

By the end of the meal, we were completely stuffed and possibly a little tipsy, but most importantly happy! (I’m glad we took the uber.) The ambience at restaurants are crucial to me and this place knocked it out of the park. I do not think many restaurants in the DMV area have anything comparable to the environment of places like New York City or Vegas, but the Old Hickory Steakhouse is a diamond in the rough.

The food was classic steakhouse fare with a welcomed twist, thanks to the kind Senior Sous Chef Anthony Gitangu, from Kenya. The service was incredible, thanks to our waiter Marc and sommelier Michael. Everyone was kind and welcoming, and it just added to the experience. I would say the only real downfall of the place is that it isn’t open for brunch. (It seems like the perfect fit!)

Overall, it was a great night and I definitely recommend you make the trip to the Old Hickory Steakhouse. Whether it is a special event or your’e just feeling like a nice dinner out, I think it is a beautiful spot. It is like a little vacation, only minutes away.

The new February menu was simple but great and for $150 per couple, or $250 per couple with wine pairings, it is a good deal compared to any nice DC restaurant, and this place comes with added luxury.

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