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Posted at 6:20 PM ET, 12/16/2008

Coming Up to Temperature

By Julia Beizer

It's still amazing to me that any restaurant, anywhere, ever opens on time.

Housed in the Four Seasons hotel, the soon-to-open Bourbon Steak overlooks the C&O Canal (and Rock Creek Parkway). (Julia Beizer -

Latest case in point: Michael Mina's Bourbon Steak, the new outpost of the chef's steakhouse concept. The restaurant opens in the Four Seasons hotel for dinner service on Friday, and the pre-opening excitement (jitters?) buzzed through the place during my walk-through today. White-vested waiters nodded briskly during table-side training sessions. Chefs bustled alongside each other in the open kitchen, which smelled like the smoke from the wood-burning grill. In the busy lounge space, workers unpacked lounge tables and uprighted them into position as well-dressed women tapped away on their Blackberrys.

I even spied a few paint brushes touching up spots in the hotel hallway leading up to the restaurant.

But hey, they've got a few days. And the restaurant already has pulled off a test run of dinner service, with a couple more closed-to-the-public events scheduled before Friday. The dining room is sleek and clean, very mid-century modern. No tablecloths, lots of wood, luxe fabrics on the bench seats. The bar -- even though it was pure chaos today -- looks like the place where I would probably spend my time, and not just because the small plates on the menu will square more closely with my wallet than the full-size entrees. Without all the action, it looks like it could be an elegant spot for a pre-dinner Manhattan.

As Tom Sietsema reported back in October, David Varley will be heading the kitchen. "I'm excited," he said today during a brief stop in the dining room. He then returned on his flight to the kitchen, which was already in full swing for a 6 p.m. trial seating.

Want to learn more about the man behind the operation? Michael Mina is the subject of this week's Chef on Call feature in the Food section.

-- Julia

A peek at the dining room and the open kitchen as chefs prepare for service. (Julia Beizer -

By Julia Beizer  | December 16, 2008; 6:20 PM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  
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