“When I came on board with the project, the design aspect was quite well advanced, however I participated towards the end in making sure we created a concept that was casual, friendly, warm and high energy, keeping in mind we were building a neighborhood bistro.” – Eric Ripert on the design of Westend Bistro, exclusively for We Love DC
Westend Bistro by Eric Ripert, opened in 2007 at the Ritz-Carlton, Washington D.C., is not your typical, often lackluster hotel restaurant. Apart from the exceptional service – synonymous with the Ritz-Carlton brand, one would never guess that they were dining amongst hotel guests and visitors. Westend Bistro feels like that friendly, neighborhood spot. The place you know you can always count on – with phenomenal food and a warm, welcoming atmosphere.
Although I could go on and on about Culinary Director Eric Ripert’s uncomplicated menu, full of signature dishes with a penchant for local ingredients, this story is truly all about the bistro’s design. However, these two facets of the dining experience seemingly sing to each other at Westend Bistro, with a menu that resonates through each built detail. A harmonious blend of culinary and design delight.
The bistro’s color palate of ocher, gold, and honey – with touches of cherry red and hints of decadent brown – bounces from plate to plate and weaves effortlessly throughout the bar and dining room. The amber that glows from the olive oil garnishing the tuna carpaccio is much like that of the shadows cast upon guests’ faces from luminous light boxes; both play a role of equal importance in the overall success of the dining atmosphere.
Adding to the restaurant’s success is the usage of repetition. This ordering principle seems to have been heavily relied upon during the space planning process and is evident all the way from the repetitive, raised banquettes and cozy alcoves to the rhythmic, wood-trimmed columns. The ceiling plane, also repetitive in occurrence, may lack acoustical protection due to its vaulted nature; however, it works well in this instance as the trickle of friendly noise helps to create the desired vibe and energy.
The elliptical-shaped marble bar adds a bit of flair to the somewhat safe design. Although I have seen many uniquely designed bars before, what makes this one stand out amongst the rest is that it does not go overboard. So often those interesting bars loose their appeal as soon as they begin to change colors or glow-in-the-dark. The gold leaf wall sculpture bordering the bar provides added dimension, serving as an understated accessory.
It is no surprise that the DC-based architecture duo Adamstein & Demetriou are responsible for the design of Westend Bistro. Serving as the city’s resident restaurant design authority, the firm has also found success at local favorites such as Zaytinya, Poste, and Bistro Bis. Adamstein & Demetriou’s creations are always thoughtful and well done.
The ambience at Westend Bistro is that of casual refinement, teetering between a traditional restaurant, hip lounge, and of course, relaxed café. The benefit of possessing this chameleon-like persona is that one space can essentially meet all of your needs without ever being too much of a good thing. Westend Bistro truly has the perfect recipe.
Westend Bistro is located at 1190 22nd Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20037. Closest Metro stop: Foggy Bottom/GWU (Orange/Blue Lines). For more information call (202) 974-4900.