WASHINGTON: Your night at the fabulous National Theater begins with a first act at BLT Prime at Trump International Hotel. Coinciding with the Fall 2019 season, the National Theater and the Trump International Hotel offer a variety of culinary offerings. These range from high tea to a pre-theater, prix-fixe menu offering diners the sumptuous plates that BLT Prime is known for.
Washington, DC history is everywhere, and the National is one of its greatest stories.
It opened its doors on December 7, 1833, and has survived four fires, a collapse, and years of politics. It has operated as a theatre longer than any other major touring house in the United States.
President Abraham Lincoln learned that he’d been nominated to a second term while he attended a performance at the National. He was watching Shakespeare’s Richard III, which debuted a bright new star, John Wilkes Booth, in the title role.
This DC icon has hosted presidential inaugural balls and presidential command performances of national artistic merit.
The National has seen her share of world premieres of landmark American musicals. It hosted the first presentation of the coveted Helen Hayes Award. Theater lore claims that Ms. Hayes’s first theater experience, as a child, was at the National
The National Theater
“Our restaurant partnership program is designed to provide National Theatre audiences with dining choices tailored to a pre- or post-theatergoing experience,” says Ashley Birdsell, Director of Marketing and Sales at the National Theatre.
“We want to ensure audiences enjoy their time in downtown D.C. before and after their show, and that means taking advantage of the great dining our city has to offer.”
The Old Post Office Pavillion – The Grand Dame of Pennsylvania Avenue
Located just steps across Pennsylvania Avenue from the National Theater, the Trump International Hotel is in one of DC’s most iconic buildings, the Old Post Office Pavillion. The U.S. Postal Service headquarters and the city’s main post office, the Old Post Office building is the second-tallest structure in the nation’s capital. The only structure taller is the Washington Monument.
The massive Romanesque Revival structure was threatened with demolition in 1930, and again in 1970. Through the efforts of dedicated preservationists, it has become one of Washington’s favorite landmarks. In 1973, the Old Post Office Pavilion found space on the National Register of Historic Places.
The building’s architectural style features massive scale, rustication, arched windows, and elaborate ornamentation. These include Byzantine sculptural capitals, French Gothic dormers and Renaissance detailing. The effect of these eclectic details creates a visual vitality that is now regarded as a virtue along Pennsylvania Avenue’s predominantly Classical Revival corridor.
The Post Office Pavillion received its latest upgrade in 2016, when the building was leased by Trump International Hotels. The upgrade kept the interior charms of the building intact and preserved the Old Clock Tower, now managed by the National Park Service.
Take the trip to the top of the clock tower to see the Bells of Congress.
The 10 bells were a bicentennial gift and are replicas of the bells at Westminster Abbey in London. They range in size from 300 to 3,000 pounds. Before they could be installed, the tower had to be renovated to hold their weight. They are one of the largest sets of change-ringing bells in North America.
BLT Prime’s theater menu is available for theatergoers and other guests in either the BLT restaurant or the Benjamin Bar & Lounge, located on the first floor of the hotel.
The lounge is named for founding father Benjamin Franklin, who is thought to be our first foodie.
Outside the building is a statue of Franklin, who was also our first postmaster. A member of the Second Continental Congress, Franklin became the Postmaster General on July 26, 1775.
Franklin was responsible for all post offices from Massachusetts to Georgia and had authority to hire postmasters as necessary.
The Benjamin menu includes the notation:
“Benjamin’s Bar & Lounge brings our namesake’s lifelong passions of inventions, fine beverages and food to life in the 21st century. Wine by the spoon, champagne sabering, Fabrice’s exquisite French pastries and chocolates, charcuterie at a new level. What will Benjamin’s invent next?”
The pre-theater dinner ($65 pp) offers choices that will keep your tummy from rumbling during the show. A recommended first-course offering is the Steak House Classic Blue Cheese wedge. It comes with a BLT signature twist. The fresh, house-made avocado ranch is thick and creamy, clinging to the crisp iceberg lettuce. Netsuke bacon, cucumbers, and blue cheese make it perfect.
Also available are savory ricotta ravioli. Large ricotta-stuffed pasta with braised beet greens and walnuts. The Tuna Tartare Tower places fresh, sushi-grade tuna over a base of avocado and a sweet and tart soy-lime dressing.
Or try the crisp Cesare Salad with crab cake croutons.
The prix-fixe, second-course entrees include four satisfying choices. First is the North Atlantic Salmon, a generous portion of fresh salmon with roast baby beets, healthy and delicious farro, and horseradish cream. Farro, a grain first enjoyed in ancient Rome, has a nutty, robust flavor that pairs beautifully with the earthy salmon.
For those wanting a steakhouse experience, the Steak Frites is a generous filet in truffle butter, served with the house béarnaise sauce. As befits BLT’s modern steakhouse reputation, the steak has a perfect sear, wrapping the warm red center in flavor.
Crispy Eggplant Parmesan is unique with the addition of casatica di bufala, a full fat, soft buffalo cheese from Italy. Its flavor is rich and sweet, the sweetness pairing perfectly with the rich eggplant in its crusty, flavor-filled coating. The presentation of this dish is unique, the combined flavors perfect.
The Crispy Skin Salt Brick Chicken provides a farmhouse-sized serving of chicken over a mushroom and bacon succotash.
BLT has a dessert for every sweet tooth. These include Chocolate and Peanut Butter Mousse with vanilla bean ice cream and brandy tuile, seasonal crème brûlée, crêpe soufflé with passion fruit, and a choice of ice creams and sorbets, all made in house.
If you prefer to eat after the show, present your theater ticket to enjoy the three-course pre-fixe menu. I suggest calling ahead to let the restaurant know you plan on doing so.
Dining at BLT Prime provides a discount to the valet fee at Trump International. Theatergoers are welcome to park their cars via the hotel valet. If you dine, ask to have your ticket validated for a deep discount.
At the front of the lobby, to the left, find a small glass-enclosed fine liquor tasting room, The Experience. Holding millions of dollars of the finest spirits known to man, or woman, it is an appointment-only experience. The room holds up to 12 guests and price for a three flight, depending on the spirits you choose, starts at $150.
The National Theater:
TRUMP® INTERNATIONAL HOTEL WASHINGTON, D.C.
1100 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE NW
WASHINGTON , D.C. 20004