Recently, I had the pleasure of dining at the Palm, that hallowed sanctum of the D.C. political elite, for the first time.
I’ll get straight to the point. I was treated to a tasting menu of Caesar salad, lobster bisque, steak and lobster, a side of creamed spinach, and a pumpkin crème brulee for desert. I can see why people have been flocking here since 1972, when President George Bush Sr. (then the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations), encouraged the Palm to expand from New York to the capital city. The steak was cooked perfectly medium rare and it was so tender, a knife was barely necessary. It was the best steak I have had yet in D.C. The lobster was similarly succulent, and all of the deserts, sides, Maker’s Mark Manhattan, and wine were perfect as well. The Palm isn’t one of those D.C. power spots with so-so food (they definitely exist). No, this is a place with great food that attracts the city’s crème de la crème for that reason.
For those of you who have never been, the Palm has a fascinating history. In 1926 Pio Bozzi and John Ganzi attempted to register their fledgling New York City restaurant as “Parma” after their hometown in Italy. Suffering from a bout of Ellis Island-like disregard for their preferred spelling, the city instead registered the restaurant as the “Palm.” Interestingly, the Palm didn’t originally serve steaks. But if a customer requested it, the proprietors would run up the street to the local butcher, bring back a fresh cut, and make it to order. Their reputation for great steaks grew, and the rest is history.
You will notice that the interior is decorated in caricatures of politicians, movie actors, and D.C. insiders (the faces of my boss and his wife adorn a wall).
|One of my colleagues|
That tradition is also steeped in history. The original Palm was located near New York’s cartoon syndicate offices, and many “starving” artists paid their tab by painting an original portrait on the wall. That tradition has served the power brokers in D.C. well, giving them a chance to shine at the city’s finest steakhouse. Maybe someday I'll have my face on the wall;)