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Posted at 5:14 PM ET, 09/ 8/2010

P.J. Clarke's comes to K Street

By Justin Rude

The space at 1600 K St. NW has had a hard time keeping tenants: first Todd English's Olives closed in the middle of 2009, then Scott Conant backed out of plans to open a new Scarpetta there later the same year. Now, Phil Scotti and the folks behind P.J. Clarke's are making a go of it, and, if the major renovations going on at the site are any indication, they intend to stay a while.

The popular New York saloon, which has multiple locations in Manhattan and a lone outpost in Brazil, plans to open in early October with an old school mentality and two very different dining rooms. Behind 35-year-old chef Jason Brumm, who comes most recently from Nashville's Radius10, the kitchen will serve classic American cuisine with a focus on steaks, burgers and a raw bar. Like the New York locations, the beef will come from Meyer Natural Angus in Montana, while produce and seafood will be locally sourced. At the bar, cocktails will have a decidedly throwback appeal, with a menu full of traditionally prepared manhattans, sidecars, martinis and the like. The beer and wine selections will maintain the local focus with regional vintages and suds from the likes of Starr Hill brewery in Crozet, VA.

Physically the space is divided into two levels, each having a different design and appeal. The main level will borrow the red and white checkered tablecloths from their New York cousins and also feature a large bar area. The dining room's show stopper though is a massive iron cage, once a solarium on Walt Disney's estate, that encloses the stairs to the lower level. The green-painted iron will frame milk glass, and a large chandelier will be suspended inside it, directly above the stairs. Downstairs diners will find the Sidecar, a semi-private club with a decidedly masculine feel. The oak-paneled, mahogany-trimmed room will be lined with overstuffed banquettes, the tables set with white linen, the walls hung with presidential portraits and the drinks served over a white marble bar. Initially 2,500 invitations will be sent out for Sidecar membership, though nonmembers will still be welcome space-depending.

If this sounds like a K Street power dining with a New York steakhouse twist, then General Manager David Lovett is meeting his goals. "We want to be considered more a D.C. restaurant with New York ties than a New York restaurant in D.C.," he said. With plans for a menu focused on the local growing season and boasting its own interior design, they seem to be on the right track. Speaking of New York ties, one interesting detail that is being imported: toilets. The men's room will house a pair of large, winged urinals built from molds taken of 19th century originals that have graced the flagship Gotham saloon since 1884.

--Justin Rude

By Justin Rude  | September 8, 2010; 5:14 PM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  | Tags:  P.J. Clarke's  
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