- The Washington Times - Monday, March 18, 2002

B. Smith's Restaurant at Union Station is perhaps one of the best choices for a business lunch spot in town. The food is good, the service excellent and the location as central as it gets around Capitol Hill.
The restaurant is spectacular in terms of architecture. The decor is a mixture of simplicity, grandeur and history with the dinning room's impressive 30-foot ceilings, eloborate molding, presidential eagles and turn-of-the-century-type chandeliers.
The restaurant is split into a main room and a wing a section once referred to as the President's Suite. The space was built for presidents to take refuge while they waited for trains in the years after Presidents Garfield and McKinley were assassinated.
Aside from its historic feel, the classy atmosphere at B. Smith's is a tribute to its owner, Barbara Smith, an affluent black entrepreneur. Mrs. Smith was only the second black model to grace the cover of a leading women's magazine in 1976; her career has also led her to acting, singing at nightclubs, and now running restaurants.
She and husband Dan Gasby own three B. Smith's (short for her name). The taste of the two that are in New York are slightly different in concept. One offers "global cuisine." The other, in fashionable Sag Harbor on Long Island near the couple's home, features seasonal dishes befitting the location.
The restaurant at Union Station, by comparison, features a combination of "Cajun, Creole and Southern" cuisine.
The house special, a tasty dish called the Swamp Thing, is a mixture of seafood served over Southern-style greens in a mustard-based seafood sauce. It's not too fishy, and the sauce is creamy, light and delicious. The chicken dumplings were light but filling. The roasted butternut squash bisque was marvelous.
To play on its motif the restaurant also offers fried green tomatoes, spicy Cajun jambalaya and Creole scampi, which is shrimp, mussels and onions sauteed with a Creole sauce.
Appetizers are varied from the typical salads to specialties like catfish fingers and Louisiana she-crab chowder. The sandwich offerings are tough to choose from with options of pulled pork, Angus steak, lemon pepper catfish and a shrimp po boy.
The dessert and cocktail menus are worth looking through, as they offer a wide variety of temptations.
For bread lovers, B. Smith's can prove to be a challenge. Each table is graced with a bread basket, with soft, white rolls, corn bread and biscuits. All three are delicious, and the basket is refilled as soon as it empties, making one nearly too full to eat a main course by the time it's served.
The service here is excellent.
The tables at B. Smith's are large, offering plenty of room to spread out for meetings that include paperwork. Such meetings take place here daily, as the restaurant's proximity to Capitol Hill has made it over the years a favorite among lobbysts and politicians.
But tourists can also be spotted, as they stand out in the casual clothing among the local men and woman clad in suits.
B. Smith's also offers dinner and brunch, with live jazz music and live piano performances on certain nights.


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