Our first night in Washington DC, the concierge at the Mandarin Oriental tried to get us reservations at the Old Ebbitt Grill, Washington’s oldest saloon founded in 1856. Even with all his connections, they were booked that Sunday night until at least midnight! So we asked Clyde to do his magic and see if he could get us in the next night—on Monday, which he did—and even then, we had a bit of a wait for our 8:00 reservation.
The Victorian interior evokes Washington saloons at the turn of the century so while waiting for our table, we enjoyed a drink at the bar and studied the amassed priceless collection of antiques and memorabilia, acquired beer steins, and animal heads (reputedly bagged by Teddy Roosevelt). Carved glass panels separate the Old Bar from the Main Dining Room which depict the Treasury, the Capitol, and the White House. The antique clock over the revolving door at the entrance is an heirloom from the previous location, and the marble staircase with an iron-spindled rail was salvaged from the old National Metropolitan Bank next door.
Now about their menu. They buy their produce from local farms, and spring through fall use only fresh, high-quality fruits and vegetables, sourcing much of their meat, poultry and seafood direct from its native region. And of course being in Maryland, we just had to have seafood, specifically crab. But for starters, Russ chose the Oyster Stew with fried Blue Point oysters, light cream broth, Old Bay, celery and parsley, which he savored down to the last drop! In the mood for a good salad, I had the Local Apple Salad comprised of shaved kale, radicchio, frisée, Gorgonzola, cranberries, candied walnuts dressed in an apple cider vinaigrette—absolutely delicious.
It’s unusual for us to both order the same entree, but the Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes with Old Bay Yukon gold potatoes, tart apple-beet-celeriac slaw, and remoulade sauce were calling both of our names that night. You can order one or two cakes, but noticing the size on other patron’s plates, and the fact that we couldn’t take a doggie bag to-go, we each ordered one a piece—which was plenty after our starters and the really good bread brought to the table as soon as we sat down.
We highly recommend this historical landmark if you’re ever in the DC area for a visit. And if crab cakes aren’t your thing, the menu boasts numerous other choices including pastas, meatloaf, chops, steaks, duck breast, salmon, trout and fish and chips to name a few. Hope you get a chance to experience it!