Paul Young’s eschewed the traditional steakhouse stereotype, as DeFerrari says it was known for delicacies like Long Island duckling, Everglades frog legs, and Florida Pompano. It was also one of only 13 restaurants to be recognized in The New York Times’ list of DC eateries in 1966.
Then there was The Jockey Club, which played into the exclusive atmosphere. “It wasn't actually a club, but it looked like a horse club,” DeFerrari says. Nancy Regan was a famous regular, and the Kennedys were known to dine there, along with notable Hollywood figures like Marlon Brando, Lauren Bacall, Frank Sinatra, and Kirk Douglas. Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, reportedly not too grumpy, once shared an order of crab cakes.
Only a few power dining restaurants managed to stay in business for decades. Others haven’t been as lucky. “They go in and out of favor the way fashion and culture does,” DeFerrari says. “By the ’90s, famous French restaurants like Sans Souci or Le Maison Blanche were no longer stylish. People were into fresh, local, and lots of different international cuisines.
Trends like the exclusive, male-dominated dining rooms also waned quickly. “I still think that important people want to be recognized and want to be given the tables that they like. But the sense of snobbery and certainly, the idea of the old boys’ network, is a little out of date now.”