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March 30, 2010

Just Back From Washington, D.C.

Where to stay, eat and shop

Location, Location, Location
The Four Seasons Hotel Y in Georgetown is close to Dupont Circle and downtown, plus it has recently added a new wing of suites. They're spacious and comfortable, with large, luxurious baths and dressing rooms, but they also have some shortcomings. For instance, the baths are extra deep but not full length, and the CD/tape player comes without music. Big plus: the first-rate fitness club. $380-$3,500. 2800 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW; 202-342-0444 or 800-332-3442. www.fourseasons.com

Food Science
Laboratorio del Galileo is a new restaurant within a restaurant created by Roberto Donna in his long-established Galileo. The room holds only seven tables, with the open kitchen creating its fourth wall, and diners watch Donna prepare a ten-to 12-course tasting menu that is a grazer's dream: Each dish is a tiny work of art that harmonizes beautifully with the preceding course. Scrambled eggs, served in the shell oeuf-à-la-coque style, are studded with black truffle and fonduta cheese—ultimate comfort food; a creamy chestnut soup is poured over slices of seared duck's liver and smoked ham; then come tender, tiny veal ravioli, and on it goes. $200. 1110 21st Street, NW; 202-331-0880. www.robertodonna.com

Light Lunch
The shoebox-sized Makoto serves very fresh sushi and melt-in-your-mouth yakitori skewers of eggplant and duck, squid, garlic, octopus. Reserve ahead: With only 26 seats (sushi bar included), the restaurant is always full. $60. 4822 MacArthur Boulevard, NW; 202-298-6866.

Scene Stealer
It bustles, but don't let its high-volume crowds keep you away: Chef Jeff Tunks has taken DC Coast, a soaring Art Deco formerbank, and turned it into the hottest table in town—fun for serious diners as well as the see-and-be-seen crowd. Recommended: smoked lobster on a nest of flash-fried spinach; cornbread-crusted oysters; and Tunks' signature pyramid of porcini-crusted halibut over truffled mashed potatoes atop a roasted portabello. Excellent service too. $80. 1401 K Street, NW; 202-216-5988. www.dccoast.com

House Painting
If you have time for only one museum, make it the Kreeger, the elegant former residence of insurance magnate David Lloyd Kreeger and his wife, Carmen, whose modern art collection, amassed over three decades, is a study in dueling tastes: He loved Picasso, Braque, Miró, and Kandinsky; she favored Monet, Degas, and Renoir. Most eye-opening are early works completely at odds with what would become an artist's signature style—impressionistic, fuzzy-edged sunflowers by Mondrian; a Modigliani portrait in the style of Cézanne. By appointment only. 2401 Foxhall Road, NW; 202-338-3552. www.kreegermuseum.com

For the Home
Georgetown, for years a backwater of chains and college shops, has sprouted several new home-design stores that provide a fun afternoon's browsing. At August Georges owner Deborah Anderson masterfully plays antiques (primarily French) off against the modern work of high-end designers like George Smith and Munder-Skiles. 1523 Wisconsin Avenue, NW; 202-337-5110. At Baldaquin, fine bath and bed linens (Palais Royal, Anichini) drape the store and the storybook wooden French sleigh beds. 1413 Wisconsin Avenue, NW; 202-625-1600. Random Harvest carries a well-edited selection of home and garden furniture and accessories, more high-style than high-end. 1313 Wisconsin Avenue, NW; 202-333-5569. Keith Lipert Gallery offers a collection of new, museum-quality jewelry and decorative accessories (below, the Amazonie vase; $6,400). Ask to be taken upstairs to the private salon, which holds gifts for dignitaries that Lipert was commissioned to make by the State Department, White House, and Fortune 500 companies. It's all for sale. 2922 M Street, NW; 202-965-9736.

Best Antiques
For impeccable early American furniture, such as a showstopping Chippendale shell-carved chest of drawers ($900,000), the name to remember is G.K.S. Bush. 2828 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW; 202-965-4173.

Politically Connected
Madeleine Albright, Hillary Clinton, Tipper Gore, and the late Pamela Harriman have all come to the studio of Ann Hand, secluded in the tony residential area of Foxhall. Most popular, predictably, are Hand's signature costume patriotic pieces—eagles, flags, and other symbols of democracy—but far more interesting are her oversized, carved-stone chokers (in amethyst; $3,500) and multi-strand chokers in gray and white freshwater pearls ($2,200). By appointment only. 202-333-2979.