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Swedish chef bringing luxe menu to the future Capella hotel in Georgetown

With fewer than 50 rooms and suites as well as a rooftop infinity pool, the forthcoming Capella hotel in Georgetown is enticing patrons with a sense of intimacy and indulgence. Adding to the pampering is chef Jakob Esko, a Sweden native who plans to stock his 70-seat dining room, the Grill Room, with a champagne cart and to feature tableside slicing and dicing.

Dover sole will be filleted before diners’ eyes. Patrons will watch as their steak tartare is seasoned to their taste. When the Grill Room opens in March, the chef plans to serve truffle polenta gnocchi with warm artichoke cream, and ham consomme with a mushroom emulsion and fried asparagus. His breakfast, lunch and dinner menus will be printed fresh each day to take advantage of the market.

Did we mention the restaurant is accompanied by an outdoor patio and a view of the C&O canal?

Esko, 40, comes to the property, located at 1050 31st St. NW, from Capella Singapore, where he served for three years as executive chef. (The Robb Report included Capella Singapore one its 2012 list of the world's top 100 resorts.) He launched his career at Sihlhalde, a one-star Michelin recipient in Zurich, and went on to cook elsewhere in Europe, including at restaurants in England and France. In his native country, he was chef de cuisine at Ulriksdals Wardshus outside Stockholm, an historic inn famed for its vast smorgasbord.

Another facet of the food and drink strategy at the luxe hotel is the 26-seat Rye Bar, featuring a menu of pedigreed rye whiskeys, a “hand harvested ice program” and related snacks, including marinated fried oysters dappled with rye foam.

Esko, currently looking for a sous chef from local ranks, says he’s leaving Singapore for Washington not for the thrill of cooking in the nation’s capital, but for the love of his life. His wife, Jodi Himmelfarb, is a Silver Spring native and has family here.

This isn’t the chef’s first taste of the area. The couple met in 1994 at a restaurant in Bethesda that Esko can no longer recall.