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The menu changes seasonally at Plume, the fine dining restaurant at The Jefferson, Washington, D.C., but some of the best things to order are specialties of the house. Here are five to try:
1. The interesting wines and Madeira. During his time as the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson took time off to travel through Europe in search of great wines with which to stock the cellars of his estate, Monticello. Jennifer Knowles, Wine Director at both Plume and Quill, the bar at The Jefferson, uses the paths of the former president’s viniculture wanderings to build the restaurants' shared wine lists. The results include selections from Spain, Austria and France, but also similar vintages from places Jefferson never visited — Japan, South Africa, Oregon and California.
The restaurants have gathered vintages of this strong beverage from three centuries, including bottles that date back to Jefferson's time (currently, the oldest on the list is from 1720). A taste is pricey ($1,720), but will offer a hands-on historical experience few American wine lists can match.
2. The menus at the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star restaurant are multi-course, prix fixe affairs that change seasonally, but one of the specialties of the house is Beeswax Poached Salmon, where the salmon is presented tableside and beeswax is poured over the fish, allowing it to cook, tableside before being prepared by executive chef, Ralf Schlegel.
3. The celebrated Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab Tea and the Lobster Gratin. Be sure to try both.
4. The longer tasting menus. For an extended dining experience at the D.C. restaurant that accents the chef's food philosophy of "traditional food, done right," order the seven-course tasting menus offered at Plume. The tasting menu can include wine pairings: Enjoy it with the "Classic Wine Experience" for $200 or the "Premium Wine Experience" for $280.