Restaurateur Ashok Bajaj is putting down big bucks to renovate his restaurants this summer. The Penn Quarter Rasika got a facelift in July, and last Friday, 701 Restaurant reopened after a five-day, nearly half a million dollar makeover. The 25-year-old restaurant was last renovated in 2009.
New York-based designer Martin Vahtra, who's also behind the looks of Rasika West End and Nopa Kitchen + Bar, is behind the new decor. The dining room has a new color scheme with gray walls, blue-green-purple striped chairs, and dotted booths. The centerpiece of the room is an art installation from the Phillips Collection with 20 large white cracked "eggs" revealing gold interiors.
Bajaj has also transformed what was formerly the lounge into a 30-seat, glass-enclosed private dining area with a new audio-visual system. The restaurant also has two additional private rooms that can accommodate 12 and 20 people.
The menu likewise got a revamp with 18 new dishes from chef Benjamin Lambert. As seems to be the trend, the menu is a bit more vegetable focused with an entire category on the menu—"Bounty & Grain"—that is vegetarian-friendly.
Some of the more unique offerings land on the "Share Center" section of the menu. Miso-glazed bone marrow comes topped with mole short ribs; duck confit steamed buns with cherry puree and butternut squash started out as a family meal dish that the restaurant staff ate before graduating to the menu. A carrot funnel cake comes not with powdered sugar but with carrot hummus and burrata puree. "I was just screwing around one day and I saw a funnel cake recipe, and I like carrots a lot. They're all over my menu in various forms. And I was like, 'OK, I'm just going to do it,'" Lambert says.
Take a look at the full menu and more photos below.
701 Restaurant, 701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; (202) 393-0701; 701restaurant.com
Photos by Jessica Sidman