Zola: Haute cuisine at the Spy Museum

If you’re going to review a restaurant in the new International Spy Museum, what better way than to have a real spy help you? Or two?

Which explains why I invited Oleg Kalugin and Ray McGovern to lunch at Zola, the dazzling new 175-seat restaurant that opened in August in the historic Le Droit Building near the MCI Center.

Zola’s dramatic decor is evident in the main dining area.

It’s a strikingly beautiful restaurant, with snap-to service from chic young waiters dressed in black. Located above the Spy Museum, it features glass portholes in the floor that allow you to see people walking through the museum. The several dining rooms and private dining areas are separated by glass panels with film noir images of spies, and the walls are decorated with backlit acrylic panels of Russian-language espionage documents. (Check out its web site, which is straight out of the Cold War.)

There’s also a sleek oval bar area that is a popular after-work spot for young people who work in the Penn Quarter. D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams was hosting a birthday party for an aide one night when I was there, and actor Robert DeNiro was a recent visitor. You can also spot some of your favorite Washington Wizards there after games at the nearby MCI Center.

800 F St. N.W.
(202) 654-0999

HOURS: Open every day from 11:30 a.m. to mid night, except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Valet parking

PRICES: Luncheon prices average $25-$35 per person; dinner $50-$60, for appetizer, main course, dessert and coffee; bever- age, tax and tip extra. Extensive, well- selected wine list.


Food: 9 Ambiance: 10
Service: 8 Price/Value: 8

Ratings: Based on one-to-10 scale for food, service, ambiance and price/value; up to five domes based on reviewer’s judgment.

The dramatic d