J&G’s New Urban Steakhouse Unveiled
When you visit a steakhouse, you expect a steak. But at the preview of the remodeled J&G Steakhouse and Bar 515 at the W Hotel, 515 15th St. NW, last Wednesday, it was missing from the menu. Instead, guests mostly got to sample the new bar bites menu.
A look at the dinner menu for the restaurant, which closed Aug. 4 and reopened on Thursday, includes five steaks ranging from $38 to $56 just from the meat — sides are extra. Over all, entree prices range from $18 for an 8 ounce cheeseburger and fries to $56 for a 12 ounce Akaushi strip steak without sides, which range from $10 to $12.
One new addition to the main dining room that was on display was a roving martini cart that will provide custom tableside cocktails. Stocked with vodkas and gins chilling in solid ice cylinders, it is the idea of consulting mixologist Domingo-Martin Barreres. Guests can customize their martinis with picked onions, blue cheese-stuffed olives, peppers and cornichons. Several fancy flourishes such as a vermouth mist spray and an eye dropper filled with real gold dust suspended in high-proof alcohol are also available. One signature martini is the Goldfinger with Grey Goose vodka, Bombay Sapphire gin, Lillet Blac and gold dust. Martinis cost around $15. There’s no extra charge for getting a drink from the cart. Eventually it may serve mimosas and Bloody Marys for brunch.
The dessert menu, which ranges from $8 from a red velvet ice cream sundae with with whipped cream cheese and white chocolate, ice cream/sorbet or a plate of homemade cookies to $12 for a dark chocolate souffle mandarin orange agrodolce. While the red velvet sundae was tasty, my favorite was the profiterole XL with banana ice cream, peanuts and chocolate sauce for $9. The cheesecake ($10) also sounded good with poached pear and gingerbread ice cream, but that wasn’t available.
Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s restaurant has been completely redesigned by New York-based Elemental Interiors with black walls and red, gray and white accents featuring a new martini-focused bar with high top communal tables, high banquettes (they are hard to get onto since they are about five inches too high even for someone 6 feet 1 inch tall) and a view of the White House grounds and treasury department. Fabric has been replaced by mirrors with an abstract photo of the Capitol dome.
While management describes the new “urban steakhouse environment” look as having “a more playful, energetic, and approachable vibe,” I still find it very formal and highly pretentious. Instead, I’d recommend dining on the patio along Pennsylvania Avenue in nice weather or in the new Bar 515 downstairs, which replaced the restaurant’s wine bar.
Bar 515 is cozy with bar stools, a communal table and some booths. It looks out on th patio and has a fireplace for ambience. It has its own menu, but diners can also order off the regular restaurant menu as well. The downstairs menu includes bar bites — which range from $10 to $28 — such as yellowfin tuna tartar with fennel mignonette and toasted quinoa ($15), hand-cut beef tartar with parmesan toast ($14), cripsy potatoes with American caviar and cream fraiche ($28), crab fritters with pickled celery and Old Bay aioli ($14), warm lobster roll with shitake and tarragon ($19), Kobe hot dog with armelized onion and fennel mustard ($12), and Wagyu sliders with white cheddar and onion rings ($14). The crab fritters were excellent as were the the Wagyu sliders.
Bar 515 also offers specialty cocktails ranging from $10 to $15 such as the lychee raspberry bellini made with prosecco ($10), the Goldfinger ($15) and a ginger margarita made with Sauza “Hornitos” Reposado tequila, Cointreau, ginger, lime and ginger salt ($12). My favorite was the manzana mojito made with Sailor Jerry’s spice rum, Domain Dupont Calvados, apple, mint and lime ($12).
The renovated dining room seats 82 in the main dining room, eight in the Coin room and 10 people in the Cherry Blossom room (both of which are available for private parties). The new upstairs bar seats seven at the bar, 11 at a communal table and 13 on the banquettes. Bar 515 seats six at the bar, 12 at a communal table and 10 at booths and high-top tables. The patio can seat 78 diners.
J&G Steakhouse is Breakfast is open 7-10:30 a.m. Monday-Friday and 8-11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday for breakfast, 11:45 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday-Friday for lunch and Saturday and Sunday for brunch (outdoor seating only), and 5-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday for dinner. Bar 515 and the patio is open 11:45 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, until 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. However, the brunch menu was not available at presstime.
Editor-in-Chief Mark Heckathorn is a journalist, movie buff and foodie. He oversees DC on Heels editorial operations as well as strategic planning and staff development. Reach him with story ideas or suggestions at dcoheditor (at) gmail (dot) com.