Jake’s American Grille Sets Sail

Written by Anita

Photographs courtesy of Above the Noise PR, LLC

March 28, 2011

Ahoy There Jak-e! Newcomer Jake’s American Grille, in the Chevy Chase area of upper Northwest DC, is a tribute to owner Gaynor Jablonski’s late grandfather, Edwin “Jake” Jablonski. Jake served as a Navy sailor (retiring as a chief petty officer) and as a research and test engineer at the Naval Research Laboratory. He invented and patented a foam that was used to fight fires on Navy carrier flight decks for almost four decades.

Pictures of the restaurant’s namesake and testaments to his illustrious Naval career affectionately grace the walls of the main dining room. Cozy booths bedecked in cool blues and beiges, exposed ductwork, and tables flanked by iconic aluminum Navy chairs give the space a subtle nautical vibe. Mississippi State art student Katie Killian melds DC landmarks with Naval themes in her large colorful watercolors (Scuttlebutt is that Jake’s is planning a show of her work—stay tuned to GregsListDC for details.)

Mix-tress Gina Chersevani (@mixtressdc) steers the restaurant’s cocktail program. She has embraced its nautical theme, carefully researching the origins of the classics and putting her creativity to work in several seasonal soon-to-be classics! Never had an aged cocktail before? Then try the D2 Aged Manhattan—a classic Manhattan (Jake’s favorite drink) that is aged about 45 days in wooden casks, which are displayed and tapped atop Jake’s bar. The cocktail’s flavor mellows and evolves as it ages, taking away the traditional version’s bite. The An’Apple’is smells and tastes like mom’s apple pie—cinnamon lends the drink its rich orange color. Try sipping the light and refreshing Starboard (CapRock vodka, fresh grapefruit juice, cinnamon, and ginger) on DC’s warmer days.

Want something sweeter? Then try the Spice Trade (ripe banana, Chairman’s Reserve spiced rum, St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram, vanilla, and cinnamon syrup), which is reminiscent of spiked holiday eggnog, or the Ugly Mug, which blends Kona Pipeline stout beer, Godiva Chocolate vodka, champagne, and vanilla (trust us, it tastes better than it sounds!) Spend an evening sampling the whole menu, and you’ll find yourself three sheets to the wind!

During the week, Jake’s hosts happy hour from 4-7pm, including $1 off all draft beers, $3.95 rail drinks, $5 red and white wines, and $5 margaritas.  Jake’s also gives back by hosting Tuesday evening fundraisers for local charities, non-profits, teams, and causes. Think you can get 20 mates from your crew out to support your cause? Then Jake’s American Grille will host your fundraiser from 6-9pm and will donate 10 percent of the evening’s proceeds and 10 percent of the evening’s tips to your charity.

Drinks aren’t the only thing on Jake’s menu. Chef Michael Degginger helms the kitchen, with a menu that offers classic American cuisine with an emphasis on fresh seafood, steak, and local produce. We sampled several of Jake’s tasty bar bites, including the duck confit BBQ sliders (rich shredded duck meat in a zesty cherry barbeque sauce, served on a glossy toasted bun and topped with a creamy dash of blue cheese) and the vodka poached shrimp cocktail (three chilled extra jumbo shrimp with a spicy Bloody Mary dipping sauce). We also got a sneak peak of a can’t-miss upcoming item—the ahi crab avocado stack—which layers fresh crab, ahi tuna tartar, and creamy avocado and dresses it up with soy glaze and wasabi sauce.

With a weekend late-night menu until 12:30am, a jazz brunch on both Saturdays and Sundays, and a patio in warm weather, Jake’s is a real catch for the Chevy Chase community. And look out for the Boiler Room, a more casual lower-level bar where both land lubbers and sea dogs can compete in a full game room (including foosball, pool, shuffleboard, ping pong, Wii, XBOX, 360/Kinect, and classic 80s arcade machines).

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