Urban Farmer: Country chic steakhouse on Logan Circle

Urban Farmer at the Logan, 1850 Ben Franklin Parkway.

For 31 years till it closed almost a year ago, the Fountain at the Four Seasons Hotel was both the city's power room and its go-to destination restaurant - a hushed, richly paneled, freshly linened affair, set beneath crystal chandeliers and awash in sprays of flowers.

Wait till you see what Sage Restaurant Group has done with the place, as The Logan prepares to open Dec. 18 at 18th Street and the Parkway. (The Four Seasons name will be on a hotel planned for the top of the Comcast Innovation and Technology Center when it opens down the street, at 18th and Arch, in 2017.) 

Urban Farmer is a knockout. Billed as a steakhouse, it's a sprawling, rustic-chic-meets-contemporary restaurant whose energy and overall look change as you walk through. It's clad in whitewashed wood paneling. At once, it looks like a cozy lounge, with upholstered chairs, curio cabinets, tile floors, and light fixtures resembling brass chicken wire. A few steps away is a colorful bar beneath oversize cloth light fixtures, with wooden tables and marble-topped tables nearby. No tablecloths.

The kitchen is where it always has been, but the designers - Dash Design - have blown out the former discreet entrance to allow patrons to see the workings. Topped in tile, with the words Fresh Meat glowing in neon, it's now a communal charcuterie station and "pass" for food pickup that is both functional and visually interesting.

Designers also did something that Kohn Pedersen Fox chose not to do in the early 1980s: Install long, wide windows that look out onto Logan Circle. (The "Fountain" name was a touch ironic, since few seats could effectively look out onto one of the prettiest streets in town.) There also will be a long patio out front on the circle, fountain-side.

It also doesn't feel like a hotel restaurant, perhaps in part because the restaurant's main entrance has been moved to the circle. You can still enter through the lobby, which has a smart-looking bar near the hotel's entrance on 18th Street. In the spring, the hotel's roof will become a lounge with a full Parkway view.

As for the food: Denver-based Sage, whose cofounder Peter Karpinski was a lieutenant here for Stephen Starr a decade ago, is doing the farm-to-table experience, much as it does at its Urban Farmer locations in Portland, Ore., and Cleveland. His team, including Richard Brower, the executive chef, and Matt Christianson, the brand's culinary director, have been working for months with local farms and suppliers (Birchrun Hills Farm, Valley Shepherd Creamery, Barefoot Gardens, etc.). A cheese cart will roam the dining room.

Steaks are butchered and dry-aged in-house; there's a 21-day, grain-finished, 18-ounce New York strip on the menu, which is expense-account-priced.

The restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch, weekend brunch, happy hour, and dinner. (Menus linked.)

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