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Plume, Chef Damon Gordon and a 5,000-Bottle Wine cellar in the Jefferson Hotel Downtown


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The best-kept secret in town, but not for long - unconfirmed opening date is August 25th, with a soft opening before that. I'll let others fill in the details, but this sounds like a fairly ambitious effort.

At the Jefferson Hotel on 16th and M Streets: Plume.

Here is a press release from March.

Cheers,
Rocks.

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Had a wonderful evening here last night:

Drinks before dinner at Quill proved that the bar is no longer a secret. A few weeks ago I had the place to myself; last night I snagged the sole remaining table. The drinks are classic while the bar itself with its orange glow is one of the more unique ones that I have seen. The complimentary pickled veggies are reason enough to return.

Amuses: spoonful of tuna tartar and an airy gougere

Appetizers:
Tartare of Beef - I nearly always order this dish when offered and this was a solid preparation, basic but well executed and a portion size that didn't make me feel like I was at a trough as some places are wont to serve
Sunchoke Veloute - the taste I had was velvety bliss, though I was more focused on the following:
Soft Poached Egg - phenomenal. Perched atop pain perdu - a great dish
Salad of Raw and Cooked Vegetables - gorgeous colors, asparagus "marmalade" sets the base for the vegetables, mache and truffles. This was a lovely salad with very clean flavors. The dressing is subtle which I prefer but if others expect bold flavors I could see how they might see this dish as muted

Mains:
Scallops - perfectly prepared and served with the all too rarely seen parsnip.
Venison - underwhelming. Cooked at the chef recommended med-rare with a nice crust, however the two medallions lacked flavor. The texture was fine, but I was expecting more gaminess, more punch. Not a bad dish at all just a bit "meh" compared to everything else thus far. I was eying the Poularde and will return shortly to see how Chef Damon's compares with the other top chicken dishes in town.

The cheese cart was then rolled around and we enjoyed four types - a pungent blue, morbier and two others that I can't recall. All cut into generous pieces tableside and served with honeycomb

Dessert:
Recommended as the best dessert (maybe because it was the newest?) - the pumpkin chaud et froid was, though very indicative of the season, texturally a mush. The date ice cream accompaniment as well as a side order of the almond ice cream were both picture perfect quenelles and were delicious.

Four types of mignardises were offered and sampled but we were nearing capacity at that point

Wine:
Complimentary glasses of champagne were poured in recognition of the special occasion. Followed this with a bottle of Tantara Pinot and a glass of Monte Bello. Michael, the sommelier, instantly rises to the top tier of wine professionals in the DC area. He is a gem. Extremely knowledgeable and a pleasure with whom to speak. He gave us a tour of the small wine cellar / private room afterwards (which includes a secret door and unique wine dumb waiter) and provided us with a nightcap of chinato, gratis.

Upon leaving, my guest was presented with a bag including some petit fours as well as a typed list of the wines we enjoyed that evening a la Per Se - a nice touch. A few improvements can be made to be sure, but overall a very good meal. I look forward to returning.

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My husband and I spent an evening at The Jefferson last night and had dinner at Plume. Here are my thoughts:

1. Appearance

Absolutely stunning. Small, intimate, opulent. Muted colors. Warm toasty fireplace. Really cool little stools for purses. One of the best features: LOTS of room between tables, which helps you fully enjoy your own conversation without having to enjoy others' :angry: If you're in the mood for a romantic destination dining room, this is the one.

2. Service

Perfectly attentive without smothering. Subtle, professional, knowledgeable. And they refer to you by name, which is a really nice touch.

3. Food

We had the tasting menu, which included soup, salad, foie terrine, scallops, venison. Portions were reasonable for a lot of courses. We were satisfied but not stuffed. The food was perfectly prepared and plated.

4. Cheese Course

What an excellent cheese trolley! Lots of choices, though strangely absent were any double or triple cremes (read as "no brie, etc."). But otherwise, a really nice selection spanning the globe. The server went through each cheese like a pro.

5. Wine

We got the pairing of wines with our tasting menu and each was perfectly selected. Interesting varietals thoughtfully paired.

Overall, an elegant experience. Really classy. And delicious. I recommend Plume for a romantic night out.

Additional Note:

We had drinks at Quill that afternoon. Totally cool, old-fashioned bar feel. Professional staff. I got the "Master Mind" cocktail, where you tell the bartender what kinds of ingredients you like and they prepare a custom cocktail for you. It was really cool. I ended up with a vodka/rose/black pepper creation. Super interesting. I definitely recommend Quill for anyone who wants an upscale, perfectly run bar experience. Oh - and the pickled veggies were so delectable.

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Any other reports? I've seen Plume mentioned two different times in Food & Wine magazine over the last serveral months (one was a mention from Dana Cowin as a place she enjoyed when in DC), which has put this place back on my radar. But the menu prices are steering me more towards Proof for a different kind of experience for my birthday instead. That is unless Plume's investors want to make up the difference by putting a deposit into my son's 529 account...

Pax,

Brian

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Went to dinner at Plume on Friday.

The service was exceptional, undoubtedly 4 stars. My wife and I both have dietary restrictions, which were handled expertly. The pacing was great. The service staff was present but not overbearing. It was very welcoming and comfortable, which usually isn't the case when there is a small army of staff taking care of you (this is where Plume differentiated itself for me, better than Marcel's and CityZen on this occasion).

The setting is perfect for a romantic dinner. It's quiet, a beautiful space, and the tables are well spaced. We were lucky enough to get the table right in front of the fireplace, which was a great touch.

I wish I could say the food was as exceptional as the service, but it was still very good. It's certainly 3 stars. We ordered the tasting menu, although it was modified to our dietary restrictions, which unluckily didn't include foie gras (for two entirely different reasons).

The amuse bouche was beet soup, which got us ready to eat... more beets, as it turns out.

Next, I thought the beet and potato salad was very ordinary and something you could get in literally 1000's of restaurants.

Cutting to the chase, the highlight of dinner: My wife ordered the rockfish, which she didn't like since she doesn't eat fish skin and all of the seasoning was in the skin, so the fish was pretty bland if you don't eat the skin. She didn't send it back or say anything, since it was coked fine and by this point I had already started to eat it. They noticed she wasn't eating it and offered to make her something else, which she politely declined several times saying she was full anyway and I would just eat the rockfish. Ten minutes later, they brought her a delicious piece of halibut (no skin), which she found the room to put back.

Other hits - the shrimp and the lamb.

One other critique - the number of courses is a bit light compared to other DC restaurants at similar price points (Komi, CityZen, Marcel's).

The service is the star at Plume, but the food is pretty damn good too. Absolutely one of the 10 or 15 best places in DC.

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Cutting to the chase, the highlight of dinner: My wife ordered the rockfish, which she didn't like since she doesn't eat fish skin and all of the seasoning was in the skin, so the fish was pretty bland if you don't eat the skin. She didn't send it back or say anything, since it was coked fine and by this point I had already started to eat it. They noticed she wasn't eating it and offered to make her something else, which she politely declined several times saying she was full anyway and I would just eat the rockfish. Ten minutes later, they brought her a delicious piece of halibut (no skin), which she found the room to put back.

This merits highlighting - an extraordinary level of service.

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I ate there years ago at a Madeira tasting dinner sponsored by Mannie Berk of the Rare Wine Company. At the time Plume was trying to get their first Michelin star, which they did. Because the Michelin rules or raters prefer a European style of service, the service to me seemed very stiff and impersonal. I recall the food being excellent!

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On 5/21/2017 at 1:16 AM, peasoup said:

Had a good dinner here recently. Food was well done with lots of good seafood (scallops, rockfish, dover sole), some nice meats (cornish hen, veal) and an interesting, overpriced wine list

I always wondered about this, given all the hype that the list gets.  I can only imagine the mark-ups, given the price of the tasting menu....

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I'm not sure that their list has much higher mark-ups than most other places, and it at least has interesting options.

The worst part is they don't allow corkage. I almost always BYO.

We had a very good still pinot noir from Champagne. $125 before tax/tip. Winesearcher has the bottle at $40 in Chicago and $70 in NYC.

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17 minutes ago, peasoup said:

I'm not sure that their list has much higher mark-ups than most other places, and it at least has interesting options.

The worst part is they don't allow corkage. I almost always BYO.

We had a very good still pinot noir from Champagne. $125 before tax/tip. Winesearcher has the bottle at $40 in Chicago and $70 in NYC.

Their markups are high, and there is very little entry room at the lower levels. (The wine list is here.)

I could rattle off some examples, but I see a lot in the triple- or quadruple-retail price points. 

You can escape for $60 if you know what you're doing, but you can also spend $1,000 on mediocrity.

Color me unimpressed when a restaurant essentially says, "We have 3,000 different brand new BMWs with an MSRP of $40K-100K, which we're selling for $120K-300K, and the only hitch is that you have to spend $100+ a person to eat dinner with us in order to buy one."

Remember when we were discussing Le Lion d'Or recently? They had plenty of wines priced at market value, or even slightly below; their only hitch is that they absolutely wouldn't sell you any to take home (believe me, I tried) - you really *did* have to have dinner with them in order to drink these wines at these prices.

The one big difference is that there is now a well-established auction market for big-name wines, and there's essentially a 0% chance of finding them for less at a restaurant (think about it: Why would they sell them for less than they could receive at auction? For the same reason Le Lion d'Or did? Perhaps, but the last restaurant I remember selling Big Guns at reasonable prices was at Brian McBride's restaurant, Melrose, at the Park Hyatt before Blue Duck Tavern opened).

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2 hours ago, peasoup said:

I'm not sure that their list has much higher mark-ups than most other places, and it at least has interesting options.

The worst part is they don't allow corkage. I almost always BYO.

We had a very good still pinot noir from Champagne. $125 before tax/tip. Winesearcher has the bottle at $40 in Chicago and $70 in NYC.

I ate at Plume consistently back in the olden days, when Michael Scaffidi was the somm and the very underrated David Dunlap was chef. Continued after Chef Dunlap left, but stopped once Michael took his talents to New York. Clearly the list has changed in the intervening years, but I recall average restaurant markups and a varied and interesting list - lots of good entry points sub $100. Glad to hear that interesting options still exist there, if not the same value.

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3 hours ago, DonRocks said:

I could rattle off some examples, but I see a lot in the triple- or quadruple-retail price points. 

How is that different from most, if not practically all, wine lists in DC? And most of those other overpriced lists are insipid.

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2 hours ago, peasoup said:

How is that different from most, if not practically all, wine lists in DC? And most of those other overpriced lists are insipid.

Plume is a *little* more aggressive in pricing, but with a *much* better reputation, and the extraordinarily high-priced wines make it stand out like a sore thumb.

I've always had Plume ranked Numero Uno in Northwest Downtown.

And then along comes Michelin and gives it a star. 

Who knew? B)

Psst, sit in the "The Nest" if you can - you'll think you flew to Tulum (after getting the bill). It gets my vote as the #1 Table in Washington, DC, although I'm open to suggestions about contenders.

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On 5/22/2017 at 11:27 PM, DonRocks said:

Psst, sit in the "The Nest" if you can - you'll think you flew to Tulum (after getting the bill). It gets my vote as the #1 Table in Washington, DC, although I'm open to suggestions about contenders.

Hmmm... The window table at Komi gets my vote for #1 Table in DC.

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16 minutes ago, Erik Ox said:

Hmmm... The window table at Komi gets my vote for #1 Table in DC.

Erik,

I've sat at both, and as much as I *love* the Window Table, I think The Nest is decidedly more special (Komi has Plume beat in overall quality, however).

Anyone getting engaged, etc., should at least go by one afternoon and ask them to see it.

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On 5/22/2017 at 4:28 PM, peasoup said:

I'm not sure that their list has much higher mark-ups than most other places, and it at least has interesting options.

The worst part is they don't allow corkage. I almost always BYO.

We had a very good still pinot noir from Champagne. $125 before tax/tip. Winesearcher has the bottle at $40 in Chicago and $70 in NYC.

No corkage is a killer.  I don't (much) mind a substantial corkage fee in a high-end restaurant. But I'm never, ever going to pay a markup of hundreds of dollars.  Basically the restaurant is saying that's fine - we'll take our $60 markup on a nicely made wine off our list - but no drinking cellar treasures for you.  I don't get why that's good for anyone - they can't have much turnover at the top of the list anyway.

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26 minutes ago, pdmarquardt said:

No corkage is a killer.  I don't (much) mind a substantial corkage fee in a high-end restaurant. But I'm never, ever going to pay a markup of hundreds of dollars.  Basically the restaurant is saying that's fine - we'll take our $60 markup on a nicely made wine off our list - but no drinking cellar treasures for you.  I don't get why that's good for anyone - they can't have much turnover at the top of the list anyway.

I'm not saying this about Plume, but occasionally, some rich person has a multi-thousand bottle wine cellar, worth seven figures, and they don't need the money - hence, they don't send the wines to auction. However, they'll be happy to sell any-and-all at double or triple their actual worth.

A magnum of 1995 Krug Clos d'Ambonnay Champagne for $8,500?

Screenshot 2017-05-25 at 10.04.17 AM.png

Umm ... I don't think so.

Screenshot 2017-05-25 at 10.03.36 AM.png

This is all anyone has to do in order to expose overpriced wine lists: Compare the lists with what you find on wine-searcher.com.

(Note: A magnum is a double-bottle, and (especially with Champagne) is generally worth a little *over* twice as much as a single bottle due to rarity, better quality, etc. (but not four- or even three-times as much - this is just one expensive wine I picked randomly)),

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Sure, I know people who've consigned part of their collection to restaurants (hell, that's how Proof got started).  But I don't think saying "no corkage" really drives the locals who would be bringing bottles from home to say "okay, I'll pay a $500+ markup on a $150 bottle of 2001 Cos." (GTFOH.)  I'll bring the '82 from home and pay a solid corkage, but they're not losing much by way of profit; they're just making me drink worse.  I'd bet there's little overlap between "sure, I'll pay your list for a fancy bottle" people and "I've got a good cellar but I'm not stupid" people - and if you have, say, $60 corkage you're not likely to get people stopping off at Safeway on the way in.  This kind of policy makes me say that there are a lot of other good restaurants in DC.

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23 minutes ago, pdmarquardt said:

Sure, I know people who've consigned part of their collection to restaurants (hell, that's how Proof got started).  But I don't think saying "no corkage" really drives the locals who would be bringing bottles from home to say "okay, I'll pay a $500+ markup on a $150 bottle of 2001 Cos." (GTFOH.)  I'll bring the '82 from home and pay a solid corkage, but they're not losing much by way of profit; they're just making me drink worse.  I'd bet there's little overlap between "sure, I'll pay your list for a fancy bottle" people and "I've got a good cellar but I'm not stupid" people - and if you have, say, $60 corkage you're not likely to get people stopping off at Safeway on the way in.  This kind of policy makes me say that there are a lot of other good restaurants in DC.

What pdmarquardt said: It's the difference between "wealth" and "knowledge."

It's downright amazing how poorly I drink in restaurants, and I can cherry-pick any wine list. I almost always end up settling for something humble from France for $40-60 (instead of paying $13-30 for it in a wine store).

When I want to drink well, I stay home.

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47 minutes ago, pdmarquardt said:

No corkage is a killer.  I don't (much) mind a substantial corkage fee in a high-end restaurant. But I'm never, ever going to pay a markup of hundreds of dollars.  Basically the restaurant is saying that's fine - we'll take our $60 markup on a nicely made wine off our list - but no drinking cellar treasures for you.  I don't get why that's good for anyone - they can't have much turnover at the top of the list anyway.

Couldn't agree more.  I know that Don has said in the past that corkage doesn't make sense at all ("are restaurants supposed to start letting you bring in your own food at some point as well?"), and I get his point, but the horrific mark-ups basically leave me the choice of drinking a middle of the road wine with my great meal or paying sometimes more than the cost of the whole meal to get a bottle that matches up to the food experience.

37 minutes ago, dracisk said:

When I went to Plume "The Nest" was occupied by a middle aged man and his much younger scantily clad female companion. My friends and I were quite amused.

Sounds like he's doing something right....

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52 minutes ago, DPop said:

Couldn't agree more.  I know that Don has said in the past that corkage doesn't make sense at all ("are restaurants supposed to start letting you bring in your own food at some point as well?"), and I get his point, but the horrific mark-ups basically leave me the choice of drinking a middle of the road wine with my great meal or paying sometimes more than the cost of the whole meal to get a bottle that matches up to the food experience.

Wat?

I may have said, "Corkage is a privilege; not a right," but I couldn't be a bigger fan of BYOB.

There is a certain tackiness to walking into a nice restaurant, carrying a brown paper bag, but that's only because it isn't in our culture. That's also why I invested in a leather wine case. :)

---

Halcyon Days of Yore - I doubt very many people will remember Range's opening wine list (which is why I saved it), but it was fantastic, and even now there are wines worth having (you won't go wrong with a Raffault Chinon).

Range Opening Wine List.pdf

April-2017-Wine-List.pdf

When's the last time you heard a restaurant writer mention Range?

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1 hour ago, DPop said:

Couldn't agree more.  I know that Don has said in the past that corkage doesn't make sense at all ("are restaurants supposed to start letting you bring in your own food at some point as well?"), and I get his point, but the horrific mark-ups basically leave me the choice of drinking a middle of the road wine with my great meal or paying sometimes more than the cost of the whole meal to get a bottle that matches up to the food experience.

Sounds like he's doing something right....

In fact, there are many restaurants in south Florida that allow you to bring in your own catch and then will prepare it for you! I have many fond memories of eating Mahi Mahi prepared three or four different ways at the same meal!

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2 hours ago, DonRocks said:

Wat?

I may have said, "Corkage is a privilege; not a right," but I couldn't be a bigger fan of BYOB.

There is a certain tackiness to walking into a nice restaurant, carrying a brown paper bag, but that's only because it isn't in our culture. That's also why I invested in a leather wine case. :)

---

Halcyon Days of Yore - I doubt very many people will remember Range's opening wine list (which is why I saved it), but it was fantastic, and even now there are wines worth having (you won't go wrong with a Raffault Chinon).

Range Opening Wine List.pdf

April-2017-Wine-List.pdf

When's the last time you heard a restaurant writer mention Range?

From the Metier thread in response to someone 'booooing' the no corkage policy. No mention of BYOF, but I think I'm remembering that comment from another conversation years back:

On 4/27/2016 at 9:53 AM, DonRocks said:

No boo! Have you seen Kinship's wine list? Try a bottle (or a glass) of their Dagueneau Pouilly-Fumé and then let me hear you say, "Boo!"

Note: This is not the legendary Didier Dagueneau, who passed away several years ago, but a descendent - but no matter, because the wine is wonderful.

Métier has a full-time sommelier, Kerstin Mikalbrown, whose job it is to select good wines at a fair price. This is a luxe dining experience, and I (for one) have changed my mind about the virtues of walking into a restaurant such as this holding a brown paper bag (or even my black leather wine case). This place *must* survive financially - trust me, once you go there (if you haven't), you'll see why I say it *must* survive financially, for the good of Washington, DC (I'm talking here about the entity as a whole; I haven't been to Métier).

That Range Opening List is awesome.

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1 hour ago, Finatic said:

In fact, there are many restaurants in south Florida that allow you to bring in your own catch and then will prepare it for you! I have many fond memories of eating Mahi Mahi prepared three or four different ways at the same meal!

Yes, I distinctly remember being in Colorado in 1970, catching lake trout with my dad, and going to a restaurant that prepared them for you. I was only seven years old, and haven't thought about this in many, many years - thanks for one of my first restaurant memories. 

56 minutes ago, DPop said:

From the Metier thread in response to someone 'booooing' the no corkage policy. No mention of BYOF, but I think I'm remembering that comment from another conversation years back.

I suspect I did make that analogy (which I still think holds true), but in no way am I "against" corkage; it just seems a bit odd to me walking into a place that serves wine and food, and bringing your own wine (or food, or cake (yes, there are such things as "cakeage fees")) - however, I'm quite certain I've brought my own wine into restaurants over one-hundred (possibly several-hundred) times in my life. Having a comprehensive wine list of breadth and depth, that would cater to all types of clients, would cost over a million dollars, and that's just not feasible for most restaurants. 

One day I remember being at Gerard's Place with a mushroom hunter who brought in his own mushrooms for Gerard to cook. Honestly, that made (and still makes) perfect sense to me, as long as you call and arrange it first.

Hell, I've brought my own wine at Mark's Duck House over a dozen times - try Peking Duck with Red Burgundy sometime! With sashimi or sushi, a lightweight, red-fruited Burgundy (Chambolle-Musigny or Volnay - even lightweight Russian River Valley) goes best; with Peking Duck, a medium-weight, black-fruited Burgundy (Morey-Saint Denis or Pommard) goes best (obviously, I'm limiting the universe to Pinot Noir here; Koji Terano told me he likes Champagne with sushi (I won't get into Pinot Noir being one of the three Champagne grapes)).

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