Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The "New" Washington, D.C.

I was invited to Washington, D.C. this past Memorial Day weekend to experience the "new" D.C.  Although no one would say it above a whisper, but the Obamas are the reason the city has a fresher, more progressive image.  Apparently, D.C. is the "new" New York.  Since the Obamas landed on Capitol Hill the tourism industry has soared.  Visitors couldn't be enticed to visit during the Bush administration.  In fact, after government, tourism is the second largest leading industry in Washington, D.C as it relates to employment.    We arrived at Washington National airport on Thursday morning at ten, and checked in to the Palomar Hotel in Dupont Circle by eleven.  Our first stop, Urbana.

Urbana is the hotel restaurant and normally hotel food is a last resort, but it was recommended by Destination D.C., the tourism division for the city.  We enjoyed an incredible meal:  flank steak salad, potato & leek soup, and fried eggplant.  Their mixologist created amazing cocktails as well.  The Spicetini was serrano-infused absolut vodka, mango puree, simple syrup, fresh lemon, and the Far land fare has saffron vodka, hangar one kaffir lime vodka, lime juice, cilantro serum, coconut water ice.  Refreshing!

(potato & leek soup)

(Far Land Fare)

Our first gallery visit was the Transformer located in Logan Circle.  It was an installation of a corn field.  Its purpose is to show the effects man has on the fields and the damage done.  We stood in a dark, curtained enclosed space with life size corn stalks towering over us.  The exhibit is complete with a sound machine to give the illusion you're in an actual corn field at night, in the rain with birds flying over head.  Quite interesting.

(In front of the Phillips Collection)

Our next stop, The Phillips Collection in Dupont Circle.  We weren't allowed to take pictures, but I wanted to share this museum with you because it is the home of many impressive pieces.  In fact, the founder Duncan Phillips spent is entire inheritance on the works featured in this gallery.  The museum boasts pieces by Georgia O'keefe, Paul Cezanne, Vincent Van Gogh, and Wassily Kandinksy to name a few.  The Phillips Collection is one to see.  http://www.phillipscollection.org/

That night for dinner we visited Policy, a tapas restaurant located in the Shaw neighborhood off the U Street corridor. The interior was spectacular--from the red patent leather tufted seats to the booth light which ensured visibilty in the dimly lit restaurant. We sipped on Lychee-Lemongrass Mojitos. http://www.policydc.com/

We left Policy for The Gibson, which was only a few blocks away. Very non-descript in true "speakeasy" style. There was no signage or any other indication the place existed. You either know it or you don't. When we entered, it was a narrow hallway and an attendant waited with a clipboard with the guest list attached. After she cleared us, she opened the door and led us through a candlelit bar decorated with black curtains and black painted walls to a cocktail table on the patio. One would never know this place would be so spacious and lively from the street. It looked vacant from the outside. Here's the site, http://thegibsondc.com/
but they don't tell you much.

On Friday afternoon, we opted to visit the Longview Gallery in the Shaw district before we had breakfast or lunch.  It opened in 2006 and it showcases the work of many regional (D.C., Maryland, Virginia) artists.  Incredible concept, great space, phenomenal work.  I was struck by that of Mike Weber whose work was a fusion of photographic-based mixed media (from family photo collections dating back to the early 1800's and some he found), oil, acrylic, found objects, cut papers and finished with a thick coat of glossy resin.


For lunch we had Italian at Potenza.  The decor is warm, fancy, yet homey with a traditional flare.  There's a full bakery within the restaurant as well as a cocktail lounge.  Naturally, we started with cocktails.  I had what they referred to as an "Old Sicilian".  For appetizers we had calamari, Prosciutto, Speck, and Spicy Sopressata (an assortment of salami), and for the main course I had the Gamberi, Finocchi e Patate with shrimp, braised fennel, olive oil poached potatoes, fennel puree, tarragon oil.  Delicious!

Later, we boarded the Open Top Shuttle to tour the city.  We bypassed everything from Union Station to Georgetown.  Washington, D.C. has an incredible history.  I learned more on this trip than I have in all the years I lived in Baltimore.  

That night we had dinner reservations at the Buddha Bar, located near Chinatown on Massachussetts Avenue. It's been open less than a month and has only two other locations: Paris and New York.  The dining room is a huge space that's completely open; no walls with a bigger than life Buddha statue occupying an entire area. The food is Asian style with a vast sushi menu.
To finish the night, we attended the Erykah Badu concert with special guests Janelle Monae and N.E.R.D at Constituion Hall.  Since we had extra tickets I invited my friend Kelli along.

E. Badu

with Kelli at the E. Badu concert

On Saturday, the Spye museum was first on the agenda. The entire museum is dedicated to well known & unknown spyes, the gadgets used, and the advancement of those gadgets over the years. Who knew that Josephine Baker and Marlene Dietrich were spyes.  Afterwards, we ventured to Georgetown to just hang out and window shop.

On our last night in "chocolate city" we met with friends and some of my family at Mova Lounge in Logan circle for...cocktails!

Maybe I could live in D.C....
Follow me on Twitter: @therealcstewart

1 comment:

  1. Wow! a new side of DC, I never knew. hopefully, I can check out a few of the places you listed. I can see you living in DC too :)