The towering figure of Thomas Jefferson looms over the work of Plume Restaurant in Washington DC. Set in the hotel named after him, Jefferson’s influence starts in the kitchen, where Ralf Schlegel and Fabrice Leray are responsible, according to the restaurant’s publicity material, for “classic dishes crafted using traditional techniques and seasonal restaurant menus that are inspired by the harvest from Jefferson’s kitchen gardens at Monticello.”
Of course, from a gastronomic point of view, Jefferson is best remembered for being one of the United States’ earliest oenophiles. And the 1,300-bin wine list pays tribute to his tastes by including a wine he may have drunk himself: 1720 Borges Madeira, no less. Jefferson would no doubt have enjoyed the rest of the 1,300-bin list, too, and not just the stunning by-the-glass list of 50 labels of old and rare Madeira. With its clever highlighting of “Hidden Gems” peppering the list—from Jacques Lassaigne, Blanc de Blancs Les Vignes de Montgueux Champagne MV, to Poggio Scalette, Alta Valle della Greve Carbonaione, Tuscany 2009—it’s a broad and imaginative collection fit for a founding father.