- 5018 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC, 20008
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Jake’s American Grille is, well… just that! The brainchild of District Restaurant Group, the same folks behind D.C. establishments like District 2 Bar and Grille and The Ugly Mug, this new upscale casual eatery has moved in to the popular Chevy Chase neighborhood of Northwest D.C. across from Politics and Prose and Comet Ping Pong.
The restaurant is named after owner Gaynor Jablonski’s grandfather Jake, who was a research and test engineer with the Naval Research Laboratory. His family pictures and accolades adorn the main dining area, giving Jake's American Grille a Navy theme in his honor.
So now you know who Jake is, what about his restaurant?.
As soon as you step into Jake’s, you know you’re in for a good neighborhood dining experience. You walk in and the long (really long) bar greets you on the left, the huge dinning booths and tables to your right, and the open kitchen in the back. The restaurant’s Navy theme resonates throughout the entire place with the use of blue, silver and brown colors as well as nautical themed artwork on the walls. Its decor gives off an old diner feel to it, but the food is much much greater than your typical diner food.
Jake’s menu is all about combining traditional American flavors with international flair, packed with classic dishes with small but unique twists. Ribeye steaks are served on top of plantains, potato wedges are cooked in truffle oil and so on and so forth. These little quirks make Jake’s menu fun and interesting yet still somewhat comfortable for the less adventurous.
Executive Chef Michael E. Degginger’s favorite offerings include Jake’s Hummus dish, a delicious mix of chickpeas and fresh tomatoes, which comes with the traditional pita chips to dip, as well as plantain chips and thin Indian papadum flatbread. The hummus was delicious and it was fun combining these international flavors into one dish.
Next up was their take on a classic burger -- the Duck Confit Sliders, cooked in cherry barbecue sauce and served with blue cheese on top. I’m not a big fan of blue cheese but the sliders really did work for me. The blue cheese toned down the sweetness of the cherry barbecue and duck confit. These sliders would make great appetizers for kids or a large group since their easy to grab and not excessively messy.
But the thing that might catch most eyes on the menu is the Vaquero Rib Eye, a pan seared 14-ounce cowboy seasoned steak with plantains and onions in a rich espagnole sauce. It was one of the most tender steaks I’ve ever had -- moist, soft, and not too chewy, it practically melted on your tongue. The sweetness of the plantains perfectly complimented the saltiness and acidity of the steak’s espagnole sauce. The large portion is definitely worth the $26 price.
Decor: It’s a throwback Navy theme with a lot of blue silvers and browns. The family photos on the wall give it a homely vibe. The big leather dining booths will remind you of an old classic diner.
Food: The food is good and affordable! Jake’s mostly serves American classics but with a couple international twists. Their rib eye steak stole my heart and is as tender as any steak I've had in the city.
Drinks: They have a good selection of international and domestic bottled and on tap beers. They feature about 30+ international and domestic wines available by the glass or bottle.
Groups: Their dinning booths are huge and you can easily sit 6 people. They also have a room in the back with a sliding door that can be separated from the rest of the restaurant for more private events.
The Damage: Including an appetizer, entrée, and drinks - a dinner for two can cost you anywhere between $40-$70, depending on what you're in the mood for. Not bad considering the quality and large portions.
Dress Code: Casual is fine. Jeans are permitted.
Insider Tips: In a couple months (think summer 2011), Jake’s will pop open the barrels of whiskey that are currently fermenting and ageing on the bar. Right now, these barrels are only conversation pieces, but once they crack them open, they’ll be well worth the wait!
Bottom Line: Jake’s American Grille could very easily become your go-to neighborhood restaurant in Chevy Chase with their wide selection of traditional dishes, throwback feel, great taste, and comparative affordability.