COMING UP: The owners of Jurys Washington Hotel are hoping that a modern American menu will succeed where an upscale Irish restaurant, Claddagh's, did not as they prepare to open Dupont Grille (1500 New Hampshire Ave. NW; 202-939-9596) later this month. A native of New Orleans, where he spent several years working in Emeril's restaurant, Cornell Coulon has been hired to oversee the menu, which will include vanilla-cured duck breast and grilled blue-nose bass over a hash of snow peas, daikon radish and rock shrimp. "I'm not afraid of taking chances," says the 28-year-old chef, whose career has taken him to Alaska, where he cooked for a cruise company, and West Palm Beach, Fla., where he helped open two restaurants. Coulon will have a fetching environment in which to work: shades of mango and yellow and floor-to-ceiling glass panels will brighten the 138-seat dining room. Dinner entrees $16-$26.
GO FISH (AGAIN): "Is everything good?" the waitress asked me last week during lunch at Sushi Taro (1503 17th St. NW; 202-462-8999). The fish was every bit as fresh as I remembered from my last meal there and now, following two weeks of renovation, so is the interior. When the second-story restaurant shuttered after Valentine's Day, and the signature blue awning came down, rumors spread that the popular but dated-looking Japanese eatery was closing. Instead, construction workers moved in, expanding the upstairs foyer, laying down a new wood floor and hanging chic lights above the tabletops. The long sushi counter is now wider and the walls of the main dining room have been painted the colors of raw salmon and mackerel. Miki Mingvimol, the assistant manager, says the makeover was timed for what is usually a slow month in the business, not for March's cherry blossom festival. "That's just a coincidence" -- and a happy one, we would add.
-- Tom Sietsema