Iron Gate: The Story Behind Its Romantic LookBy Olga Boikess | December 17, 2013 By Olga Boikess | December 17, 2013
Michael and Catherine Hailey Babin fell in love with a building - the wisteria-sheltered courtyard and former stables below Dupont Circle that had housed the Iron Gate Inn for some 50 years before its demise in 2010. These restaurant vets - who were behind Birch and Barley, Churchkey, Evening Star, Rustico, Tallula, Vermilion and the recently opened The Arsenal at Bluejacket - thought the space would be a great fit for chef Tony Chittum’s dream concept. The former stables could be an intimate setting for serving an intricate Mediterranean tasting menu, and the carriageway and courtyard could become a lively, approachable bar/lounge with more casual fare. But first, they had to transform a 19th-century complex that was showing its age - there were 22 structural problems that had to be painstakingly repaired.
Their M.O: to “celebrate the building's eccentricities" while retaining its "cozy, old-world” feel. Thus, an unexpected little nook became a wine station, irregular bricks and unfinished wood in the former stable were left intact to give the tasting dining room a unique look, and the tall-walled carriageway and courtyard were dramatically lit by lanterns and candles to give the aura of a European castle. Read on to learn more design secrets of this romantic space.