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Seriously Delicious

BY Nevin Martell | September 24, 2018 | Feature Features

Matt Baker's Gravitas is poised to rise to the top of DC's restaurant scene.
The yellowfin tuna sashimi with black vinegar aioli

The logo for Gravitas incorporates the outline of the Chesapeake Bay. This signals what’s to come at this superseasonal, locally minded tasting-menu restaurant in Ivy City. It’s the work of chef-owner Matt Baker, whose impressive résumé boasts stints at Minibar, Brasserie Beck, Occidental and North Bethesda’s City Perch, where he was the executive chef.

The corner building in the ascendant neighborhood was once a tomato processing plant, a fitting history for an eatery so focused on vegetables (more on that later). A soaring ceiling and flurries of greenery give the space an open-air, beachy industrial vibe. To further echo a Bay aesthetic, tables and chairs are the color of storm-tossed driftwood, while the banquettes and trim favor foggy grays. Next to the entrance, a small six-seat bar resides. The kitchen opens up along the back, giving diners an unfettered view of the team in action. Above it, on a small mezzanine level, a semiprivate dining room practically hovers over the scene.

Though it won’t open until later this year, the 2,000-square-foot rooftop will house a 30-seat bar inside a greenhouse and an alfresco lounge. It is already home to garden towers installed and maintained by Up Top Acres, a boutique firm that created roof gardens for Oyamel and the Pike & Rose development.

Now, have a cocktail before you begin. Signature selections emphasize a regional sensibility. Topped with egg white, the King of Beets evokes a brandy-powered salad by featuring the namesake root, walnuts, tarragon and lemon. The Ivy City Martini employs gin from nearby One Eight Distilling along with tomato brine, Dolin Blanc vermouth and orange bitters. For those who are abstaining, opt for the zero-proof Garden Party, a turmeric, pineapple and ginger beer mocktail.

Diners are offered a four- to seven-course tasting menu, along with optional wine pairings. Choose between any of the selections in the categories—Light Beginning, Indulgence, Hearty and Sweet—though meals always end with dessert or a cheese course. Reflecting Baker’s great love of vegetables, roughly half the choices will always be vegetarian.

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