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Mark Dedrick

The Rye Bar, Upscale Cocktail Lounge at the Rosewood Hotel in Georgetown - Closed for Renovation into a Wolfgang Puck Restaurant

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Has anyone been to the Rye Bar?  More curiously, has anyone been to the Grill Room in the same location?  Is it just an insanely overpriced hotel restaurant?  I am interested in checking out the former, but post-dinner.  Trying to figure out where to do that dinner part first. 

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I've only been to Rye Bar, not the Grill Room. Beautiful decor for sure. But I was underwhelmed by the cocktails - just don't think they compared with the Columbia Room and the Rogue 24 Spirits Bar. For example, our bartender was unfamiliar with a Silver Fizz, a classic cocktail that I think a bartender at a bar this expensive should know.

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I've only been to Rye Bar, not the Grill Room. Beautiful decor for sure. But I was underwhelmed by the cocktails - just don't think they compared with the Columbia Room and the Rogue 24 Spirits Bar. For example, our bartender was unfamiliar with a Silver Fizz, a classic cocktail that I think a bartender at a bar this expensive should know.

I am not a cocktail aficionado (I like to drink them, but don't know a lot about them), but I have often wondered what I can reasonably expect a bartender to make.  As you mention, this is definitely dependent on the place you are at, as I would never expect a bartender at Ruby Tuesday to know how to make a Sazerac.  However, I would say that in the limited amount of times I have ordered a classic cocktail that is not on the menu (say a Martinez), I have more often than not either received a reply that they cannot make it (don't know how, don't have the ingredients) or a terrible rendition of it.

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Interesting question. We wouldn't normally "test" a chef with requests not offered on the menu. Yet it would be considered entirely normal to request songs from a DJ.

I'm not an expert either but I'd think part of the issue is there isn't necessarily a consistent naming convention. Is it possible the name Silver Fizz was never used in certain parts of the country? Or in particular time periods?

I sense they are somewhere between chefs and DJs...expected to have a deep knowledge of the "hits" while also expected to be able to execute them well. It makes me feel it would be really tough to be a bartender, and I think I'd hate people who seem to be testing me without some back-and-forth.

(To explain - if a patron sits at a table and orders drinks I've not heard of... And I have some competence as a bartender... And my lack of knowledge of the drink causes them to think poorly of me... I call BS. But if a patron sits at the bar and is either willing to engage me on the ingredients I have, or the experience I discuss- then the patron has some context to judge me. When I was a DJ, any a-hole could walk over and ask for Bach's 1,872th concerto while I was playing James Brown...and stump me. BFD- you're in the wrong bar, pal. )

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On an absolutely *frigid* Monday evening, I drove to Georgetown, only to find K Street blocked off, and I was diverted onto the Whitehurst Freeway, where I was spit out near the Key Bridge. Turning right on M Street, I drove down past Wisconsin Avenue, only to find police cars blocking every side street to the South (someone very important was dining somewhere in South Georgetown Monday night, and I don't think all this was for me).

I parked on Wisconsin, and scampered down to the Capella Hotel, teeth chattering by the time I got there. Walking into The Rye Bar, I saw the center seat at the five-seat bar empty, so I nabbed it.

The bartender was young, albeit a seasoned restaurant worker, and I got mixed signals from him all evening long. When I asked him to make me a non-alcoholic cocktail of his choice, I sensed an air of resignation (I suspect the average bar tab here is fifty dollars); yet, he made me a terrific drink - essentially the same drink I'd had on the two previous evenings, except this time it was vigorously shaken, and served up in a Margarita glass. Of the three different variations on this exact same cocktail, I liked this one the best - I also noted that it had about five different ingredients in it, so it was not a simple drink, and the pinkish-orange color came not from orange juice (although there was some in there), but a bit of cranberry juice to go along with lemon-infused simple syrup, etc.

The selection of liquors at Rye Bar is fantastic - it's expensive as sin, but they're using expensive liquor, and that $22 Manhattan is barrel-aged for two months downstairs before being siphoned off. If you want top-end Ryes, Bourbons, Gins, Tequilas, et al, this is the place to come if you don't mind paying for it.

Here to get Ruta On The Cheap, I opened the menu and found just a few items of bar food, although I've heard that, in the general case (but not always), you can get The Grill Room's dishes in Rye Bar - I would certainly call first to be safe. Here's their menu, the last page of which contains the Bar Bites (made in the same kitchen as The Grill Room):

RyeBarMenu-112315.pdf

When I saw the menu, there was never any doubt what I'd be ordering: The Grill Room Burger ($22) was a *dead ringer* for the Palena burger of old, and I mean I couldn't tell the two apart, and there's also no doubt that this is one of the greatest hamburgers you'll ever eat. Ordered medium-rare, it came on a house-made sesame bun, with house-made mayonnaise, topped with truffle cheese, and served with house-made pickles. Alert, alert! Frank Ruta is capable of making crispy french fries! Much to my chagrin, the mushy, soft, mashed-potato like fried potatoes on the old Palena Fry Plate are gone, and have been replaced by - yes, crispy! He can do it after all! - shoestring fries cleverly served in faux-newspaper. I actually thought these fries were the weak link on my three consecutive meals here, being just too salty for my taste, and crispy to a fault - and yet, crispy they were. I'm proud of you, Frank - you've learned well over the years. :)

If you miss Palena's burger, come to The Rye Bar, because here it is - the exact same thing. To think that this sandwich debuted for *nine dollars* at Palena! I can't say I didn't take advantage of it, so I have no regrets; just sorrow, but that's mollified knowing I can still get his cooking here at Capella Hotel.

Along the way, I got another drink - the same - and this time I watched as the bartender walked me through it. I know this isn't au courant in this decade's mixology theory, but I *love* tiny ice crystals in my shaken drinks, and I got them in this - just enough to notice for a few seconds before they melted away into nothingness.

I wanted to get a "Movie Night" dessert, but to my surprise, the bartender told me the kitchen had closed (I was surprised because I glanced at my cell phone shortly afterwards, and it was 8:48 PM). Well, it was an empty Monday night, and was about 15 degrees outside with a nasty wind chill, so all is forgiven. Instead, I ordered the Cookies & Confections ($12), and got it to go. This turned out to be about 15-20 of the little mignardises (with a few that I hadn't yet seen, such as Killer Brittle), and is worth every penny. I actually have a few left for this evening, but Matt is arriving, so the odds of me finishing them are something between zero and nil.

After three visits, I'm still not sure how much non-alcoholic cocktails cost because I was only charged for one drink, and it was only $4. To make sure it was okay, I thanked the bartender, and told him I'd leave it on his tip, and I tipped him well. On my way out, I glanced over my right shoulder, and the hostess was still at the host stand in The Grill Room, probably waiting to say goodnight to the last customers.

Rye Bar's one huge advantage over The Grill Room is that you can get Palena's cheeseburger - remember that little trinket, because it's every bit as good as you'll remember from days gone by.

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I've heard that, in the general case (but not always), you can get The Grill Room's dishes in Rye Bar - I would certainly call first to be safe. 

For what it's worth, a few months back during a weekday lunch at the Rye Bar, all the Grill Room options were available at the bar (I was handed the Grill Room menu...I can't remember if I had to ask for it, but it was offered as if it were totally normal for customers at the Rye Bar to be ordering off of it.)

This could be a lunch thing, or a discontinued policy, but that was my experience not too long ago.

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Much to my chagrin, the mushy, soft, mashed-potato like fried potatoes on the old Palena Fry Plate are gone

Are you referring to the pommes dauphine:(

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Are you referring to the pommes dauphine:(

I don't think he ever actually called them pommes dauphine, but that's pretty much what they were.

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On January 6, 2016 at 6:23 PM, DonRocks said:

Rye Bar's one huge advantage over The Grill Room is that you can get Palena's cheeseburger - remember that little trinket, because it's every bit as good as you'll remember from days gone by. 

We did the burger thing there, too, I think in October of last year. It was quite good. We did not sit at the bar itself, but one of the tables. The tables are too damn low to make this easy eating. And I think there are only 5 or 6 bar seats. Ah well.

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3 hours ago, seanvtaylor said:

Unfortunately, this appears to be closed and under construction...

This article came out a couple of months ago:

Oct 3, 2018 - "Rosewood Hotel in Georgetown To Close for Renovation, add Wolfgang Puck Restaurant" by Rebecca Cooper on bizjournals.com

And a couple of years ago, this:

Apr 21, 2016 - "Capella Hotel in Georgetown becomes Rosewood Washington, DC" by Rebecca Cooper on bizjournals.com

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