As we first walked into Pennsylvania 6 DC , Washington’s new, spacious upscale restaurant named after the oldest working phone number in New York City — Pennsylvania 6-5000 — which happens to have inspired one of my favorite big band era songs — I was awestruck by the gorgeous bar. We sat down there, and a crescendo of pleasure started to build as the champagne cocktails arrived, and it continued to increase throughout the evening after we moved into one of the private dining rooms. As we departed at the end of the evening, my only thought was when we could return.
All the elements that contribute to the dynamic personality of the restaurant worked harmoniously to make the evening unique and special for me … and I wanted more. The place has just the right feeling of glamour and chic evocative of the big band era with an appealing interplay of grandeur and intimacy enhanced by a 21st century update. The aesthetics are fabulous, ranging from audacious vibrant reds to powerful blacks, all beautifully illuminated by gorgeous light fixtures. The American Brasserie menu caters to a wide range of palettes, the food is layered with flavor and definitely the sort you just can’t get enough of, and the sommelier is an expert with the wine pairings! Plus the team players who put this restaurant together are totally devoted to customer satisfaction. Welcome to Pennsylvania 6!
While the restaurant aims to offer the most exciting and freshest Raw Bar in DC with a wide variety of seafood flown in daily, its eclectic menu definitely caters to the diversity which characterizes 21st century culinary tastes. The talented executive chef in charge of this dynamic culinary scene, Marc Plessis, has a history of successful restaurant openings on his Bio — and it shows. Born in France of French parents, he moved with his family to the southern U.S. where he grew up before attending the New England Culinary Institute. Plessis describes his cooking style as very much influenced by both French and southern U.S. traditions, and there’s no doubt that his kitchen’s underlying focus is on what’s local and in-season. While he has taken the restaurant’s promise to be a top American Brasserie specializing in contemporary cuisine to a new upscale level with his creative and innovative cooking, unlike many of his contemporaries, Chef Plessis has mastered the art of being innovative without letting innovation detract at all from the beauty of pure flavor.
Of course, superb cuisine requires an expert sommelier to stock the cellar and have the savoir-faire to interpret the customers’ preferences. To fulfill that challenge, James Beard award-winning Master Sommelier Mark Slater, who has earned himself a stellar reputation after more than 40 years of top-notch experience in DC, was brought on board to develop PENN 6’s beverage program. Over the years, Sommelier Slater has developed the fine art of listening to what the customer wants and then making sure he delivers it from among the restaurant’s vast collection of varietals from both the Old and New Worlds which Slater personally helped select. He has demonstrated this skill repeatedly for us at PENN 6, and perhaps most impressively when he recommended a Jean Siegler Grand Cru Mandelberg 2011 Riesling which paired perfectly with our rather diverse main courses, including Yellowfin Tuna, Berkshire Pork Chop, Lamb Shoulder Ragout and a specially prepared curried vegetarian dish.
In addition to its well-stocked cellar, the restaurant showcases a large, vibrant and lively bar scene. The buzzing happy hour features one of the best oyster menus in town along with hand-crafted cocktails, craft beers, and an impressive champagne list, including many high-end selections available by the glass. Plus, if patrons want to keep the magic going at the bar for the evening and enjoy the culinary performance on view from the open kitchen, they can order from the fabulous raw bar or anything they wish off the menu to be served to them right at the bar.
Just as PENN 6’s menu offers a modern twist to some great American classics, the restaurant’s decor created by DC-based designer, Maggie O’Neill from Swatchroom, drew from the glamour of the big band era as she transformed the 9,000 square foot space seating upwards of 300 people to meet the needs of an upscale 21st century clientele. The impressive re-design, which allows for everything from intimate and romantic dining to upscale private functions to large business or family gatherings, created 5 distinct zones, including an antique marble-topped raw bar with an open kitchen prominent bar area, a romantic vintage den with a candlelit hearth for savoring cocktails, and various dining rooms, each with its own vibrant personality. While touches of glam range from the phenomenal marble bar to the magnificent floor-to-ceiling red lacquered wine cabinets and fabulous light fixtures, more is yet to come when the patio opens up in the spring offering chic, continental outdoor dining under a canopy.
My favorite place to enjoy a meal so far has been one of the rooms in the rear of the restaurant which showcases a fascinating collection of paintings by local artists, including a very imposing one of Mrs. Douglas McArthur. In addition, this room features pinstripe wallpaper, a digital replica of a traditional old-world plaster ceiling, and red floors with a brilliant patina that provide that special “wow” factor — think of the red lacquered wine cabinets. This room offers a stunning ambiance for diners to savor their wine and food while they enjoy the diverse art collection and look out over the main dining-room and the bar where the action never stops.
The dedicated hands-on management team, including Culinary Director Brian Cooke, are clearly eager to make the restaurant a success. They are on the floor regularly, talking with the clients, overseeing the action, making sure the harmony flows and the customers are satisfied. Fortunately, they can draw upon the track record for success of the Pennsylvania 6 formula both in Philadelphia and in NYC.
Location is another prime asset of Penn 6, rendering it a top choice for pre-event dining. Conveniently located in the heart of Washington DC, across from Franklin Square and steps from The White House, this vibrant newcomer is open continuously for lunch through dinner Monday through Friday, for dinner on Saturday, and soon for brunch on Sunday.
Pennsylvania 6 DC is the kind of restaurant where the art of fine eating is meant to be savored and shared with friends and family, and where the ambiance is ideal for both business and pleasure. You can linger and enjoy life, or you can close the deal. Just don’t forget to save room for the amazing house-made desserts. Bon appetit!
1350 Eye Street NW
Washington DC 20005
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