Le Premier looks like a miniature model for a 1920s Busby Berkeley movie. Light columns hold up undulating peach clouds in the ceiling. A stage at one end, against a wall of glass, gives an air of importance to the diners. Mirrors echo the whole effect.
When Zibigniew Brezezinski came to dine, the Secret Service cleared all the tables against the back banquette. But even so, the room is not overcrowed with only 65 seats at 18 tables.
Don Little of Cross and Little architects, Kensington, designed the restaurant at 1140 9th St. NW for the owner, Robert Dakak. "I think restaurants should be dramatic, elegant," Little said.
The light columns, the principal feature of the room, are a clever contraption. "The inside of clear acrylic columns was sandblasted," Little explained. "We put a light in the top, and a mirror in the bottom, and set them on pesdestals. Peter Barna was the lighting designer."
The stage at the street end of the room is reached by a double staircase, again a miniature of the sort of thing Busby Berkeley did. Little would like to mount a mannikin between the two with some stylish ensemble from Dakak's other interest, clothing stores. At the moment an acrylic table by Quibic of Kensington has the spot of honor.
A mirror along the south wall is etched with an Art Moderne design, a series of half curves. The etching on the front glass, a design repeated on the menus, is a bit more fussy.
The predominant color is a pleasant art moderne peach with a contrast of white with a bit of green mixed in. The armless chairs are, even so, comfortable.
David Hudson, the contractor, did all the special effects, including the mirror. "He can do anything," Little said. t
Some people have followed the chef, Roland Bouyat, from Chez Camille to the Bread Oven and now to Le Premier.
If Le Premier reminds one of a set model of a musical, for the menu prices you deserve Fred Astaire.