Just as visitors feel a special excitement seeing the monuments and buildings that ornament D.C., eyes, and hearts and go aflutter whenever visitors walk into The Jefferson
The Jefferson Hotel: Unspoken Monument of Washington, D.C.
Just as visitors feel a special excitement seeing the monuments and buildings that ornament D.C., eyes, and hearts and go aflutter whenever visitors walk into The Jefferson Hotel (http://jeffersondc.com/). The exterior’s subtle, yet elegant Beaux Arts design on the corner of 16th St., NW and M St. NW only hints at the experience that awaits inside.
The entire design of the hotel takes its inspiration from Thomas Jefferson’s discerning taste, from its décor to the guest experience – the check-in process replaces the typical bank teller-type counter with gracious writing desks and comfortable armchairs and a personal butler handles every aspect of the stay.
In early April, an extensive tour of the hotel and guestrooms was arranged by Travel Onion (http://travelonion.com/), a collection of the world’s best travel blogs. Rooms are elegantly appointed with classical artwork, yet still very comfortable. No detail is overlooked, from their custom-designed sheets and duvets rival this author’s favorite Frette linens, spacious walk-in showers and tubs, in-house filtered water, and even a customized scent that permeates (very subtly) throughout the hotel. The Thomas Jefferson Suite on the top floor even has French doors that open to a view of the White House, just four blocks away. If you are interested in arranging a stay, Five Star Alliance (http://www.fivestaralliance.com/luxury-hotels/washington-dc/the-jefferson-washington-dc) offers special room rates.
Plume (http://jeffersondc.com/restaurant-dining/index.cfm), the hotel’s signature restaurant, is no exception to the Jeffersonian influence. Different nooks within the restaurant offer the diners a feeling of privacy, no matter where they sit. While the walls are decorated with a hand-painted silk mural of Monticello, every angle your eyes turn offers a feast for the eyes from the stunning chandeliers to the fancy floor tiles and carpeting. Speaking of feast, Executive Chef Damon Gordon creates a divine menu using the finest ingredients, including a divine Risotto alla Milanese topped with actual gold. A 7-course tasting menu is offered for $110, or $275 with premium wine pairings. Or, for the truly indulgent experience, there is the 1776 Tasting Menu including some of Thomas Jefferson’s favorite wines for an appropriate cost of $1776.
Naturally, Plume offers an extraordinary wine list that Jefferson would be proud of, including wines he drank during his time, such as a rare 1780 Borges Madeira Bual, plus what he would likely drink today. Sommelier, Michael Scaffidi, formerly of Napa Valley’s French Laundry and West Virginia’s Greenbrier (http://www.greenbrier.com/) presides over the 1200 labels. Guests fortunate enough to book the Private Cellar can actually dine amongst many of these wines.
While one would imagine Thomas Jefferson sipping on a rich Bordeaux or a delightful Sauterne, Scaffaldi can collaborate with diners for a desired wine-tasting experience. For instance, in March, he guided a dinner for the Center for Wine Origins (http://www.wineorigins.com/), a DC-based organization that educates Americans about the importance of authenticity on wine labels, and it was only fitting to showcase Port and Champagne, the two regions that have wines most likely to be mislabeled. Below is a list of the wines served at the dinner and their tasting notes (courtesy of the Center for Wine Origins).
Veuve Fourny, Vertus, Premier Cru, Rosé Champagne MV
With a slight touch of Chardonnay, the Pinot Noir reveals its subtlety on the nose: red and black fruit, with a great freshness in the mouth. A dazzlingly fresh nose offers a light red fruitiness with plum and strawberry highlights. Very crisp and intensely effervescent flavors possess terrific focus in the deliciously balanced and altogether lovely finish.
Dow’s White Port
Made from selected white grapes, mostly Malvasia Fina and Gouveio, this Port is mainly aged in wood, which provides rich golden color and an intense, nutty, aromatic complexity. Some wine that has not been wood-aged is blended in to add freshness and fruit character. Balanced and smooth on the palate, with excellent acidity and a long finish.
Henri Goutorbe, “Special Club,” Grand Cru, Aÿ, Champagne 2002
Made from 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay from Ay this Champagne shows clarity, focus, and vibrancy. Blackberry and kirsch flavors run through this vibrant Champagne, along with whole-grain toast, walnut and honey notes driven by dry, racy acidity, all set on an elegant, creamy mousse texture. Subtle notes of chalk and pastry add complexity to the rich close.
Krug, “Grande Cuvée,” Reims, Champagne MV
A smoky, intense wine, with layer upon layer of coffee, roast nut, golden piecrust, ripe apple, honey, and spice flavors. The richness is balanced by a focused freshness, perfectly poised like a high diver about to jump, standing above the crowd and showing the interplay of power and control in an elegant package.
Warre’s, Vintage Port 1977
Deep garnet color with plum and berry aromas, as well as hints of honey and toffee. Turns to custard. Full-bodied, sweet and fresh, with firm tannins to provide elegance and balance. Rich and highly flavored, starting to open into a superb wine. Deep ruby, with a very perfumed cassis nose, full-bodied, with tons of sweet berry flavors, full, round tannins and a ripe fruit finish. A generous but subtle Port that is ready to drink now, but will age for a long time.
Dow’s, “20 Year Tawny,” Port
Complex aromas of toffee, roasted nuts, lead pencil, orange peel, and caraway seed. Intensely flavored fruit is silky but nicely delineated; offers the fresh flavor of orange peel. Not at all thick, but brisk and vibrant. Finishes clean and long, with hints of smoked nuts and marzipan.
Looking for something more “casual?” Quill (http://jeffersondc.com/media/docs/menus/Quill_Menu_Winter_web.pdf), is as eclectic a hotel bar as they come, with seasonal cocktails and herbal-infused alcohols. You can also enjoy drinks in one of the intimate meeting rooms adjacent to Quill, or better yet, The Book Room which proves that the hotel is not just a place that captures colonial memories, but modern ones, too. Authors who are guests of the hotel are invited to add their book to the Book Room’s collection. So many, that they are overtaking some real estate of the more historical book collection.
While The Jefferson is an excellent place for Dining in D.C., it is also great for Staying, Meeting, Savoring and Relaxing in DC.
For more information, please check out the hotel’s website (http://jeffersondc.com/).