Surf and turf get equal play at Jordan's 8, where owner Jordan Cappolla has hired a steakhouse alumnus to oversee the kitchen -- Lisa Graves, formerly of the Caucus Room in Penn Quarter -- and several sushi cooks from around the area to slice and dice in view of visitors to the restaurant's second-floor lounge.
"I'm a sushi fanatic, like so many others," Cappolla explains his decision to mix Caesar salads, New York strip steaks and raw fish on vinegared rice under one roof on Barracks Row on Capitol Hill. The early surprise hit: Red snapper escovitch, a zesty Caribbean-inspired entree, "sells like hot cakes," according to the owner.
Cappolla, who also owns the nearby cocktail lounge Tapatinis, appears to have sunk some serious money into the restaurant he named after himself and its address. The long and narrow ground floor finds a faux leather ivory banquette running the length of the room, opposite a 35-foot-long bar animated by five plasma-screen TVs. A flight up some illuminated Brazilian cherry wood stairs lands visitors in the lounge and sushi bar; beyond is a wrought-iron-fenced patio with a view of the Washington Monument.
Depending on the crowd and the date, those flat-screen TVs highlight sports, "The Simpsons" or something arty but mute, such as a video loop of a fish tank, a Cirque du Soleil performance or a science or nature show. "We try to cater to everyone," says Cappolla, who sometimes unexpectedly finds himself playing video editor. "Planet Earth" videos turn out to be the most controversial, he reports; not every customer likes watching a bat eat a frog, or a lion chase down a gazelle, while they're eating a steak dinner.
--Tom Sietsema (August 22, 2007)