Inside Donahue, a New Luxury Lounge in Georgetown
May 21, 2021 @ 3:57pm
From Wisconsin Avenue, Donahue could easily be mistaken for a private club or residential building, co-founder Luca Giovannini says. In front of the entrance, there is a black painted wood door and a doorman wearing a Donahue uniform who welcomes guests into D.C.’s newest lounge.
Once inside, steps lead down into a modern, minimalistic dining room, bar and lounge area, that is full of warm greys and luxurious chairs. This is an environment Giovannini said that allows guests to have their corner for conversations, dates or business while having excellent dining and drinks.
“We are not just a bar, we’re not just a restaurant, we are a concept that doesn’t exist in D.C. at this type of level,” Giovannini says.
Donahue opened at the end of March and was co-founded by D.C. hospitality alums Giovannini, Cesar Varela and Noe Landini, and features food by Executive Chef Antonio Burrell. The lounge aims to fill what the owners saw as missing in Georgetown and D.C. at large: a lounge where businesspeople can get a quality nightcap and food in a luxurious environment reminiscent of European lounges.
“When I was running the bar of Fiola Mare many of our regulars after dinner were asking me, ‘Where should I go now for a nightcap to continue my business meeting that is not a dive bar or a club?’” Giovannini says. “And honestly the answer was no, there is really nothing much because all the nice lounges and hotels close early.”
The name of the lounge pays homage to the building’s original owners – the Donahue family – and the history of Georgetown, Giovannini says. From day one, the connection to the history of Georgetown and the team’s experience showed when customers mistakenly thought the lounge had been opened for months, he also notes.
The lounge will feature new American cuisine which includes caviar, a seafood tower and seared foie gras. The cuisine was selected to give the kitchen freedom to try new techniques and showcase the Chef’s experience in French, Asian and Latin American food, according to Burrell. This fine-dining creativity will also be featured on a rotating tasting menu.
“The tasting menus these are things where I can just do whatever I want,” Burrell says. “It’s where I get to exhibit the techniques that we can’t necessarily do on our full-fledged menu.”
Burrell notes a stable of menu items that demonstrate the kitchen’s cooking ability, such as the foie torchon, which features strawberry variations with foie gras; the Junction smoked brisket, a fine-dining interpretation for meat-lovers; and the snow crab and 62-degree egg, which is by far a customer favorite – and what won Burrell his job.
“Right now it’s just such a stellar dish,” Burrell said. “We couldn’t take it off if we tried.”
Along with high-quality food, the lounge will spotlight Prohibition-style cocktails and an extensive Champagne menu. According to Giovannini, the cocktail menu is approachable and will feature what the guests want. Currently, this means tequila and rum-forward cocktails. Two examples of this are the De Verda, a tequila cocktail with Montenegro, mandarin, carrot, lemon and tiki bitters; and the Mary Pickford, a rum cocktail with pineapple, house-made grenadine and maraschino.
Donahue is looking forward to a post-Covid D.C. when restrictions are lifted, Giovannini says. The spot hopes to operate as originally intended: an “extension of your living room” where guests can move about in comfortable luxury, and to stay open until 3 a.m.
“Finally, we can really apply the idea we always intended to use for our lounge to become known as the place to go to do your networking, and to enjoy a great nightcap,” Giovannini says.
To view the full menu, make reservations, find hours and more visit www.donahuedc.com and follow @donahue_lounge on Instagram for the latest.
Donahue: 1338 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC; www.donahuedc.com // @donahue_lounge
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