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Octopus carpaccio. [Greg Powers/For The Washington Post]

In search of a formula to fill tables along with beds, the Loews Madison turned to Philadelphia-based celeb chef Jose Garces, who looked to Argentina when designing the hotel’s latest restaurant. An elaborate, $20,000 wood-fired grill bridges two handsome dining rooms and initiates some of the best eating on the menu.


Out of the embers come beets for a delicious salad and eggplant for a mousse made tangy with goat cheese. Off the grate fly cuts of beef — grass-fed rib-eye from Uruguay, thinly cut short ribs — that rely on little more than salt, pepper and burning wood for their flavor. The staff of life is the stuff to like, starting with a generous bread basket accompanied by vibrant spreads and embracing fugazza, a pizza that resembles a cross between deep-dish and focaccia. Like those pies, the very good pastas at Rural Society reflect the history of Italian immigration to Argentina in the 19th century. Looking for a side of privacy? Request a one-table “niche” facing the exhibition grill.


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