Image: Trout with baller vegetables.
Last Updated: October 2022
Current Status: Open for sit-down service, with indoor and outdoor (uncovered) seating. As a hotel restaurant, it serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but no dinner service Sunday, Monday, Tuesday. Take-out and delivery also available.
Art and Soul stretches from the lobby of the Yotel at the base of Capitol Hill and spills onto a large sidewalk dining area that (from the right seat) looks directly up at the Capitol dome (otherwise it is the less captivating Hyatt across the street). The menu covers a lot of ground too, with staples, like steak and potatoes or fried chicken, and some dishes that are more inventive, like the grilled trout with lobster cream. The dishes are layered with flavor and texture, and the ingredients are well-sourced. The plating is also a highlight here, reflecting the high-end restaurant experience of Chef Danny Chavez. For example, the squash and carrots on the grilled trout are done with a small melon-baller(?), instead of being chopped, so they dot the top of the fish. Desserts lean more old school and are also pretty good, especially the ones built around seasonal fruit.
Chavez is trying to pull off a very difficult trick, which is to revive and re-establish a spot that was abandoned by its initial celebrity namesake. In this case, it was Art Smith, who cut ties in 2017. Most do not make it. But Chavez has talent and energy, and he is gaining admirers. The dean of D.C. restaurant critics, Tom Sietsema, recently raved, “Chavez’s food isn’t merely easy on the eyes. The chef also packs lots of flavor in his compositions.” We agree.
As Tom also notes, Chavez’s cooking deserves a better setting. The plain décor screams corporate bland, or more accurately stinginess on the part of the hotel in not matching Chavez’s endergy into making the space welcoming and reinforcing of a fine-dining experience. The beverage list is also limited, though it covers the basics and goes long on cocktails.
One advantage the large space does have is that it accommodates large groups, and is good for families looking for a solid spot not far from the Mall or business travelers not wanting to wander far from a hotel or Union Station. We think it is worth giving it a shot.
Other Guidance: The place is informal, but being a little fancy is not out of place. It is located on the first floor of the hotel, no steps. There is enough variety on the menu that vegetarians and GF can do alright.
Washington Post: Tom’s 2022 review under the current management.
Washingtonian: Looks like no coverage since 2013.
DonRockwell.com – An early positive buzz in 2008 faded and has been quiet for years.