Chef Jeremiah Langhorne’s The Dabney is one of the hottest spots in modern-day D.C., but it takes inspiration from the past. The Shaw neighborhood eatery boasts tabletops made by local millworkers and windows salvaged from old row houses to add charm to the dining room. One of the only modern elements about the restaurant is its contemporary take on cuisine.
“D.C. diners are adventurous,” Chef Langhorne says. “They’re used to traveling the world, whether it’s for work or pleasure. It’s fun to put dishes on the menu that may use unfamiliar ingredients and not be afraid that people won’t order them.”
Here, Chef Langhorne talks to DuJour about what makes his new eatery stand out amongst the pack.
How did you find this location?
My business partner Alex Zink and I basically walked all over D.C. when we first moved here to try and find a space that would make sense for the kind of restaurant we wanted to create. You can’t really put a concept like ours in a shiny new building with floor-to-ceiling windows, it just wouldn’t be right. Blagden Alley is really the only place we could find that gave the sense of history and place we wanted, so when guests come in through the alley and walk on the brick road it already starts to set the stage for our restaurant.
What sets your menu apart?
Our food and drink menus both focus on showcasing the beautiful ingredients and products that the Mid-Atlantic region has to offer. Our menus change almost every day depending on what’s coming in from our farmers and what’s in season. The Dabney will never have a signature dish because that’s not the way I cook. Our dishes and cocktails will constantly change and hopefully that will make people excited to keep coming back and to try new things.
What are some special design details?
Local millworkers made our tabletops and the windows behind our bar were salvaged from old row houses in Baltimore. We wanted everything to have a sense of place.
What makes for a successful restaurant venue?
We are very conscious of being accessible. We want people to come to our restaurant, have a drink at the bar or sit down for dinner a few times a month and not be seen as just a place to celebrate special occasions. The Shaw neighborhood has been really supportive and that has been very important for us in just getting the restaurant open.
122 Blagden Alley NW; thedabney.com