Following an extensive $125 million renovation by Euro Capital Properties, The Watergate Hotel will reopen this spring and offer discerning guests world-class dining experiences in four distinct restaurant and bar concepts that include Kingbird, a lively restaurant and fine dining concept; The Next Whisky Bar, an exclusive whisky bar; Top of the Gate, the hotel’s first-ever rooftop space; and In-Room Dining for hotel guests in search of delicious dining options.
A Mid-Century Italian Design Icon
When it was built in the 1960s by an Italian design firm, the Watergate Hotel was meant to offer Washington, DC its first “mixed use” property and offer a more modern break from the city’s monumental city landscape populated by classical and Greek Revival institutional architecture. Sleekly curved and starkly white, the Watergate is a 10 acre complex of hotel suites, private residences, restaurants, and retail spaces designed to be a city within a city right in the heart of Foggy Bottom.
Its stunning views of the Potomac River and role in American politics made it one of the city’s most coveted addresses for decades. The Watergate Hotel lies within a stone’s throw of the Kennedy Center and few buildings in Washington, DC have had a front row seat to history quite as profound as the Watergate Hotel. Despite the passage of time, this building’s façade and modern design have remained an icon in our nation’s capitol and with this makeover, and an inspired food and beverage program, the Watergate Hotel is once again poised to reclaim its title as one of D.C.’s top dining destinations.
A Modern Culinary Renaissance
Leading the Watergate Hotel’s culinary renaissance is executive chef Michael Santoro, whose decade of experience has included opening two hotels and six restaurants in six countries. His cooking talents were further honed at acclaimed restaurants such as The Fat Duck in Berkshire, England, chef Heston Blumenthal's renowned, three Michelin-starred temple to innovative Modern British cuisine; two-starred Mugaritz near San Sebastian, Spain; and at acclaimed US restaurants like Andaz 5th Avenue in New York City, and D.C.’s Blue Duck Tavern.
As chef Santoro readily points out, no single person is responsible for the successful launch and management of any food and beverage program that encompasses six buildings across ten acres and includes restaurants, bars, in-room dining, and meeting and event spaces. He credits his accomplished chef de cuisine, Mattie McGhee, with making this re-launch possible and has tapped him with oversight of all restaurant operations, a role he is perfectly trained for given his recent position as chef de cuisine at Range in Chevy Chase.
What’s Old is New Again
Euro Capital Properties has put a fresh face on a classic landmark that was once a destination for Michelin-quality restaurants such as Jean-Louis and Le Pavilion. The Watergate Hotel still focuses on luxury and quality but with a more relaxed modern approach that offers exceptional service and hospitality in a welcoming atmosphere.
Together, chef Santoro and chef McGhee plan to offer local D.C. dining patrons, hotel guests, and notable residents (Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, opera great Placido Domingo, dignitaries, and Members of Congress make the Watergate residences their home), dining experiences that reflect the hotel’s refreshing makeover and new concepts.
Where to Dine
Luxurious with impeccable service, the Watergate Hotel’s Kingbird flagship is perfectly designed for intimate occasions and sophisticated events. Chef Santoro is offering two styles of dining at Kingbird in order to appeal to a wide range of guest preferences. For those in search of a unique, upscale dining experience that highlights the best of American fine dining with a French twist, Kingbird offers two tasting menu options for dinner Monday through Saturday from 5:30-10 p.m. Each tasting menu is paired with wine from an extensive international wine list and guests may choose a three-course tasting menu for $68 or four courses for $78. Look for signature dishes such as pan fried John Dory with Burgundy sauce and braised oxtail lasagnette with celery root and rapini pesto.
Lively, more casual menus are also available daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the dining room or on the restaurant’s terrace. Washington’s movers and shakers rely on early morning power breakfasts and Kingbird serves fresh eggs and other breakfast items from 6:30-10:30 a.m.; the restaurant offers a great lunch spot for salads and sandwiches from 12:00-2:30 p.m.; and dinner, served from 5:00-10:00 p.m., includes hearty tributes to the hotel’s original bad boy French chef Jean-Louis Palladin like braised rabbit, Dover sole, and Maine lobster with pumpkin thermidor mousseline.
The Next Whisky Bar
Carved into the hotel’s curvilinear lobby is an undulating wall of custom whisky bottles that is the showpiece of The Next Whisky Bar. This intimate whisky destination offers a long list of rare and exceptional liquors with a focus on domestica and international whiskies, bourbons, and ryes complemented by a menu that offers a range of dishes designed to satisfy cravings for salty, sweet, savory snacks.
Top of the Gate
Top of the Gate is the hotel’s first-ever rooftop lounge and it offers stunning 360 degree views of the Potomac River, the Washington Monument, and historic Georgetown and the waterfront. Top of the Gate will include a drinks menu that features class cocktails as well as inventive signature drinks paired with enticing Asian street food.
Hotel guests looking for eye-opener breakfasts or late night snacks will also be able to enjoy the new menus on offer at the Watergate Hotel as in-room deliveries. The breakfast menu is available 6:00-11:00 a.m. along with hot coffee and espresso drinks, cold press iced coffee, signature Mango Mimosas, Bellinis, and Bloody Mary brunch cocktails. Lunch includes seasonal soups, salads, sandwiches, and select entrées. ln addition, daily dinner specials, dubbed “Chef Michael Santoro’s Dinner Favorites,” offer guests a chance to try dishes not offered on the regular menus; a children’s menu is available; and a dessert menu features favorites like Tiramisu and assorted mini cupcakes. For more information on The Watergate Hotel, please visit TheWatergateHotel.com.
Summer Whitford is the D.C. Editor at The Daily Meal and also writes about food, drink, and travel. Follow her on Twitter @FoodandWineDiva, on Instagram at thefoodandwinediva, and read more of her stories here.