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Last night’s dinner at the historic Willard Hotel almost didn’t happen because as we walked down 15th St., we couldn’t cross the street because the police had cordoned off the street to await the Obama motorcade’s passing through on the way to Blair House.
But at one point we saw people darting across the road in the darker spots and so we did, too. The whole thing reminded me of the times we saw the King of Morocco coming back to Rabat after spending time at his summer house near Casablanca. A policeman stood on every corner, the white patent-leather cuffs of their gloves shining in the bright sunlight. At those times, no one could move an inch and heaven help you if you or your sheep or donkeys were in the road when the long black limos screeched by, because they never stopped for anything.
Last night I got the distinct impression that if we happened to be in the road, we’d be pulverized because that’s the way things are done …
Anyway, when we walked into the Willard, through revolving doors and an arched passage way draped (as are many buildings in the District) with red, white, and blue half-circle banners, the first thing that struck me was the wood and the marble. A veritable palace it is. Along an extensive corridor, carpeted in dark cranberry red, a man of a certain age played a baby grand piano and people of every nationality chatted in small groups. We’re hearing a veritable Babel of world languages here now, and isn’t that wonderful?
The maitre d’ of the Willard Room suggested we park our coats in the cloak room, which relieved us of the Michelin Man coats we’re wearing during this cold spell in Washington. Then he led us to a table for four tucked away in a corner, a sort of recessed alcove, flanked on one side by a tall divider created out of etched glass.
I kept trying to imagine Lincoln eating breakfast in the Willard before he walked over and delivered his inaugural address the first time. Where was the fireplace in that vast room, ceilings at least 20 feet high?
The first order of business, after sitting down, was to study the wine list, arranged by geographical domains and wine color. And luckily we’d planted ourselves firmly on the chairs, because some of the prices nearly floored us. The choice ended up being wine by the glass: Sauvignon Blanc, Chateau Belair, Bordeaux Blanc, Graves, France 2004 and Pinot Noir, Maysara, Jamesheed, Willamette, Oregon (organic).
I will write more in detail later about the meal — the most noticable difference between the Willard Room and many other restaurants I’ve eaten in of this caliber lies in the tableside French-style haute cuisine. The waiter made our Caesar Salad at the table, and he also filleted a trout and sauteed Bananas Foster for the couple in the other table nestled in the small alcove.
Bruschetta with Tomato Coulis and Designer Oregano (a freebie given to us by the Willard Room)
Maine Scallops with Perigord Black Truffles
Filet Mignon with Bearnaise Sauce and Chanterelles
Chocolate Truffles perfumed with lemon and coffee flavors (another freebie)
To be continued (FDR is on schedule for tomorrow) … off to scrounge around out there in the cold.