1789 was opened in 1960 by local boy and Georgetown alumnus Richard J. McCooey. Locals were drawn to the classic French menu and the restaurant was soon recognized as one best places to dine in the city.
The intimate setting with a fireplace, antique furniture, and beautiful prints is an essential part of 1789's charm. 1789 Restaurant is divided into five seating areas, each with its own name and distinctive character. Each room is like dining at a completely new restaurant. 1789 makes great use of local and seasonal ingredients, so elements of the menu are always changing. A favorite that stays the same with only a seasonal switch of ingredient here or there is the gnocchi and steamed clams. In the spring, the dish is served with bright red fresno peppers and preserved lemon in a white wine clam sauce. Another item that never goes out of style is the seafood minestrone, a heap of scallops, shrimp, and halibut atop a shallow broth along with fish fumet, basil, and creamy white gigante beans. 1789 is a decadent restaurant, worthy of a special occasion. The wine list is extensive and has a few wines from most of the great wine regions of Europe. For dessert, the Plum Pavlova is the most popular, making great use of local plums in season.
Even in Washington D.C., where tradition and formality reign supreme, the food world is changing. Some diners are eschewing white table cloths and stuffy dining rooms. 1789 has adapted by changing its dress code, no longer requiring men to wear jackets for dinner. This trend has made it hard for some classic restaurants to survive. 1789 has had no such problems. In many ways, 1789 offers the best of the old and the new.
Cover photo courtesy Li Yang via Unsplash.