Capital Taste


By Linda Domingo

The menu from The Montpelier, the restaurant in the original Madison hotel

The menu from The Montpelier, the restaurant in the original Madison hotel

"To M. Georges Adrien Fanjas—chef extraordinary—you are what you eat, and if you are royalty you eat royally,” states a vintage press release dated Feb. 7, 1963.

The release served as an announcement that Fanjas, a French-born, renowned master chef, would be joining the staff at The Madison hotel as chef de cuisine. Already the talk of the town for its luxurious details and personalized service never before seen at a hotel in Washington, D.C., The Madison put the icing on the cake with the hiring of its famous new chef.

With him, chef Fanjas brought a menu of sophisticated dishes fit for the world’s leading aristocrats. The hotel’s original dinner menu featured items like lamb noisettes, Maine lobster and paupiettes of Dover sole Marguery. Having worked in kitchens around the world, from Nice and New York to Stockholm and San Juan, and with the experience of serving Queen Elizabeth II on his resume, Fanjas would now have the opportunity to cook for Washington’s elite at The Montpelier, the hotel’s on-site restaurant.

“For a long time, I have wanted to work in the capital of the United States,” Fanjas said in the release. “For this is the meeting place, the focal point, of the world’s princes and statesmen—the important people from all areas of human leadership who know and appreciate the finest in cuisine.

“Your president and first lady have led the way to this return to gracious dining,” he added. He was referring to John F. Kennedy and first lady Jacqueline, who were present for the official opening of the hotel in 1963.

The following 50 years brought both changes in ownership and the closing of The Montpelier, but the hotel’s sterling reputation as one of the best addresses in the city remains, thanks in part to the Loews commitment to providing only the finest in dining experiences for its guests.

“Our food today has different influences than that of The Montpelier restaurant, which closed in the late ’90s,” says Zachary Dallessandro, the Loews Madison Hotel’s director of food and beverage. “It is soon to be replaced with a brand new restaurant that will feature unique and authentic Argentinian dishes, wines and custom cocktails created by renowned ‘Iron Chef’ star Jose Garces.” The new restaurant is expected to open later this year.

“A central philosophy holds true—we believe our culinary offerings are at the heart of our guests’ experience and are equally as important and impactful as the rooms themselves,” Dallessandro continues. “We want to create a unique and lasting dining experience that will have our guests wanting to come back for more.”