For many of us, it’s been well over a year since we’ve pulled up a seat to a bar or checked out a new neighborhood restaurant (indoors). But following Mayor Bowser’s May 21st lifting of most Covid-19 restrictions — with the remainder to be fully lifted on June 11th — it’s finally starting to feel like the tides are changing.
Enter Navy Yard’s newest restaurant, Gatsby. Opened in April, and ideally situated across from Nationals Park, the latest concept from KNEAD Hospitality + Design takes the classic American diner and kicks it up a solid notch, while the Art Deco decor transports guests back to the roaring 20s. Elements of the era are woven throughout the two-story, 9,000 square foot space, from the warm glow of the first-floor oval bar with rich green basketweave and eye-catching overhead lighting structure, to the first floor dining area mural depicting a lively social scene of the 1920s era.
The menu features a solid lineup of elevated diner classics that allow guests to go full on and indulge or take things a bit lighter.
“We’ve got 420 units upstairs and 2,000 new apartments in the last month within a block of us. So, if we want to be a neighborhood hangout and an everyday restaurant, we need to make sure there is something for everyone,” explains KNEAD Hospitality + Design co-founder and principal Jason Berry.
“You can be glutenous and have your chicken pot pie with a maple lavender crust, but there also may be days where you want to have our vegan Caesar salad, a scoop of sorbet and a cocktail,” Berry says, who opened Gatsby along with KNEAD Hospitality + Design co-founder and principal Michael Reginbogin.
Gatsby’s menu offers a bit of nostalgia and comfort to guests, at a time when we all could certainly use it. “I think with everyone trying to get back to normalcy, there is something really comforting about returning to one’s childhood memories or college years and bringing some joy to the dining experience again,” Berry says.
Other popular dishes include the Monte Cristo with crispy battered brioche, turkey, Virginia ham, gruyere, and cherry marmalade with a vinegar slaw; a double patty Smashburger on a sesame seed bun, with thousand island and parmesan-herb fries; and the hot and sour wings with pickled vegetables and blues cheese. Blue plate specials offer a dish of the day as a classic early bird special from 3-6 p.m.
Berry says his favorite is Thursdays, where it’s full-on Thanksgiving, while other specials during the week include the beef ossobuco on Sunday, and the fried chicken with spiked honey and loaded cornbread on Monday.
For the beverage menu, given that traditionally alcohol isn’t served in diners, Berry and Reginbogin decided to take American classic cocktails of their youth and update them. Think an Appletini with a house-made apple shrub, a whiskey sour with a red wine foam, or Gatsby’s take on the classic Manhattan with a Jägermeister cold brew coffee.
And last, but certainly by no means least, Gatsby’s dessert program features a menu curated by renowned New York bakery Mah-Ze-Dahr founder Umber Ahmad, a longtime friend of Berry and Reginbogin’s, whose first bakery location outside of New York City is next to Gatsby. Like the rest of the menu, the desserts pay homage to the classic diner but oh so much better, complete with an award-winning Oreo-crusted cheesecake, a Spanish caramel sundae, and a newly created Watergate Cake (coconut cake, vanilla cream, candied pecans and pistachio icing) that’s receiving rave reviews.
Right now, the Gatsby offers dinner daily from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., with lunch coming once there is enough of a work crowd in the area. Brunch is offered Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. And that beloved D.C. past time known as happy hour is back, with guests now able to pull up a seat to Gatsby’s gorgeous bar area from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, and enjoy drink and food specials.
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