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The Caucus Room, 401 9th St., N.W., Washington, D.C. (202) 393-1300 The Caucus Room is truly a restaurant of the lobbyists, by the lobbyists, and for the lobbyists. The steakhouse is owned by 65 partners, many of whom are prominent in the influence community. The bipartisan group is led by Tommy Boggs, a longtime D.C. power broker and a founder of Patton Boggs, and Haley Barbour, former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a partner in Barbour, Griffith & Rogers. Among the other notable partners are Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering’s C. Boyden Gray, former counsel to President George Bush; Terry McAuliffe, a prominent benefactor of the Clintons; former Rep. Thomas Downey, D-N.Y.; and GOP pollster Frank Luntz. Although the restaurant has been open only a few weeks, it is already attracting the well-connected. On a recent Thursday evening visit, we saw McAuliffe holding court in the main salon. Also spotted were Sen. Christopher Dodd and Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, as well as Democratic lobbyists Patrick Griffin and Michael Berman. Among the Republicans present were Rep. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and lobbyists Billy Pitts and Ed Rogers. When you enter the Caucus Room, you immediately know you’re in a steakhouse. The d�cor is masculine minimalist: mahogany paneling, topped by a series of wine racks and interspersed with a few oversize bottles. At the back of the restaurant are several private rooms of varying size. The rooms, which also are used by regular diners, feature French doors with glass panes. The doors apparently are critical to help patrons comply with the specific tax regulations that allow for 100 percent deductibility for functions in a private dining room. One of the first things you notice as you’re seated are the oversize wine goblets that appear more suited for a bouquet of flowers than a fine merlot. During a lunch visit, we were surprised that the silverware felt surprisingly chintzy. The menu is like many D.C. institutions — imaginative. The Caucus Room’s quality is expected, given that it’s run by the company that operates the Sam & Harry’s steakhouse chain. The menu includes an ample selection of beef entrees in the $30 range. Both the filet and the New York strip were excellent. The grilled tuna was prepared well, but lacked creative seasoning. You can choose from such vegetables as mashed potatoes, mushrooms, and asparagus, served family style. For lunch, the Caucus Room offers salads, sandwiches, and smaller portions of the dinner entrees. Both the Haley’s (mixed greens and blue cheese) and Tommy’s (ripened tomatoes) salads ($8) are not too large and are good ways to start a meal. And the lunch portion of the Chilean sea bass ($16) was outstanding. During both visits, service was impeccable. A waiter in a black double-breasted waistcoat was posted in the hall outside our table during the entire meal. When we indicated that we planned to share a Caesar salad among the three of us, our server returned with the salad already divided on three plates. Desserts are sumptuous but should be shared. Both the cheesecake and the coconut rum cake were tasty, although the rum was not noticeable. The slices are simply enormous. The restaurant is clearly priced for those with lavish expense accounts or who enjoy generous monthly retainers from their corporate clients. Prices are perhaps 10 percent more than at other high-end D.C. restaurants. For instance, a Stoli martini will set you back $9; a piece of chocolate cake, $8. A dinner for three with dessert, but without wine, was close to $200, before tip. A lunch for two with salads was $55, without tip. If you can afford it, the Caucus Room deserves your vote.

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