Best Staycation in DC
If you like to stay in places where they remember your name, treat you like any other celebrity, or in fact, treat you like royalty, where the bar lurks within an eyeshot of the lobby, where the staff has some really cool stories to tell, where you can walk to a 24-hour CVS for those post-midnight Advils, you'll want to consider The Fairfax at Embassy Row, located at 2100 Massachusetts Ave., NW in DC.
Everyone knows it as the boyhood home of Al Gore but the hotel has literally had nine lives. In its heydays it used to be a Ritz-Carlton until the chain yanked the license on the Middle Eastern owners after a tiff and than it became a Westin and now its part of the Luxury Collection.
Happily so, the hotel has been brought back to life – and so has the Jockey Club, once the grand dame of all eating establishments and even before people could find Cafe Milano on a map.
We visited the property on a weekend sojourn arranged by the hotel pitchman Hugh Drummond of O'Neil & Associates, the kindest man in the biz.
As soon as we arrived this past Friday, we were welcome in the lobby by Pierre Yves-Robin, the Sommelier and Beverage Manager, who promptly informed us that all the old regulars were back. By that he meant all the staff that once presided over the hotel glorious past when Presidents and Playboys ate and played at the hotel. You know it's always a good sign when the first person to greet you at a hotel is the resident sommelier!
Pierre with one of his 'regulars' Ben Jamil and a 'newbie' Raymond Lawrence.
After we checked into our plush digs, a suite, arranged by our host David Bodette, Assistant General Manager, The Fairfax at Embassy Row, we strode down to relive some other memories over cocktails with Pierre at the Fairfax Lounge.
Pierre with Publisher and Chief Party Animal Lak Vohra.
Cocktails in the Fairfax Lounge turned out to be a Flight of Wines from Cote d'Or. Pierre tells us that the hotel tries different wines in keeping with the Embassies around them and if you plan to go anytime soon here are the tastings for the rest of the summer season: July 29: Veneto and Trentino; Aug. 5: Piedmont and Lombardy Wines; Aug. 12: Wines of Chile; Aug. 19: Wines of Argentina; and Aug. 26: Catalonia Wines. Reservations generally are not required and dress can be casual.
On Saturday, we ate a delicious eggs benedict with french fries at the Jockey Club and in the afternoon we drank rose at the bar. We were pumped up for the grand finale – a sumptuous dinner reliving those glory days at theJockey Club.
When we arrived for dinner, we were greeted by Martin Garbisu, the Maitre D' and Restaurant Manager. Martin brought us up to speed on what he had been doing all these years the Jockey Club had been shut down and how he brought back the old team together – "the ones who are alive are here," he said with a glint in his eye ever so affably.
For starters, we tried the Fresh Shellfish assortment which consisted of Maine Lobster Tail, blue crab claws, jumbo shrimp, cherry stone clams and East Coast oysters which was a bevy of beauties swallowed into one.
Our main course for the evening was the Pan Seared Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes with a side of Grilled Vegetables, Toasted Quinoa, Red Pepper Coulis in Verbena Oil. The helping was just the right size we needed to leave room for desert.
We partaked in a mango sorbet and for the start attraction of the evening we ordered one of the finest deserts we've arguably ever eaten: the Rhubarb Pie. If there is one thing you must try if you are in DC it is the stupendous Rhubarb Pie. There's not too many places you can eat such a Pie and it was simply delicious! We're gonna have to sneak in one day to steal the recipe!
Before we could call it a night, our host David paid us a visit and mentioned he had planned the perfect Sunday Brunch for us – back here at the Jockey Club.
Needless to say, we slept well that night. Tomorrow was another day – at the Jockey Club!
David with his staff at the pearly gates of heaven: The Fairfax at Embassy Row.
Bye bye birdie (come back soon and croon).