Deep Fried Diaries

The insider's scoop on food, travel & southern culture

Marcel’s Year of Style and Taste

2015 Marks a New era with a 3.5-Star Rave from Washington Post’s Revered Food Critic of Robert Wiedmaier’s Flagship

Marcel's Interior - Chef Robert Wiedmaier - Washington, DC

“Dinner at Marcel’s suggests luxury dining isn’t going to fade to black anytime soon. With the help of fancy new amenities, Wiedmaier is leading the charge. Ultimately, however, he knows that great cooking is the best revenge.”– The Washington Post, January 7, 2015.

As loyal readers of The Washington Post know, food critic Tom Sietsema’s word is not to be taken lightly. Amid his glowing review of Robert Wiedmaier’s flagship establishment, which he praises as a stalwart of the Washington fine-dining scene, the critic is clearly impressed by the complete renovation that was completed late last year. He states, “If ever there was a case to be made for the relevance of comfort and ambiance in the dining equation, this enhanced restaurant is it.”

That comfort and ambiance is the work of local designer Charles W. Craig, ASID [American Society of Interior Designers, who has worked with Robert and Polly Wiedmaier on their own homes. He was given the directive to provide the legendary restaurant with a brightened residential atmosphere, one that would help to melt away any pre-conceived notions about fine dining as soon as a guest entered the door. What he delivered is a symphony of light neutrals — gleaming and contemporary and festive — a handsome backdrop for the drama that is Wiedmaier’s exquisite cuisine.

Soft carpeting in fine mocha stripes softens the footfalls. Walls and sheer curtains in deep ivory create a hushed cocoon, with three framed silk scarves designed and signed by the Art Deco master Erté contributing a note of color and serious glamour. Plush high-back leather chairs encourage lingering, and starburst-chandeliers and sconces of sparkling crystal shed a flattering light and a glorious sense of occasion over the whole scene, which is, in turn, reflected in arrangements of bold, bronze-framed mirrors. The celebrated table Number 25 remains, tucked discreetly in the heart of the dining room, yet completely enclosed by floor-to-ceiling drapery, ready for decades’ more marriage proposals and delicate business deals.

The tabletops received special attention in the makeover, with new custom woven linen cloths, new Rosenthal china bearing Marcel’s familiar logo, and sleek dark titanium flatware. Sietsema, who arguably dines out more than anyone in the nation’s capital, notes that he’s never seen the like of the dramatically modern new sculptural service china, fit for the highly creative presentation for which Wiedmaier is known. “Marcel’s,” he declares, “knows how to balance yesterday with today.”

“Service rivals food in its sumptuousness,” continues the rapturous review, and in fact, Wiedmaier made a point of outfitting the front-of-the-house service staff in updated but understated elegance, courtesy of bespoke navy wool suits by the exclusive New York tailoring firm of Doyle+Mueser. The new uniform is as comfortable as the new dining room itself, according to the staff. “You feel at ease, and you feel your best,” remarks one — exactly the effect of the luxurious calm of the interior design.

To read Tom Sietsema’s high praise in its entirety, click here.

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