<<EDIT 12:24 PM, 5/13/10 – Sorry for the confusion – I listed the address as NE, not NW, but I’ve corrected it.

UPDATE 12:20 PM, 5/13/10 – Check out Buddha Bar’s dinner menu, just in!>>

If you’ve ridden the Circulator from Union Station to Georgetown or driven along Massachusetts Avenue near Chinatown at any point in the past year or so, you’ve been tantalized with a large advertisement for Buddha Bar in the ground-floor windows of 455.  The gigantic space has been a work in progress for almost twice that long, but the wait is finally over.  Buddha Bar opened for dinner service last night and is now ready for business.

Maybe you’re familiar with their popular series of music compilations.  Perhaps you’ve paid a visit to Little Buddha in Las Vegas or the original Buddha Bar in Paris.  Or maybe the Washington outpost of this global lounge and restaurant concept (branded as “eatertainment”) is your first experience with the concept.  Whatever your level of familiarity with Buddha Bar, prepare to be impressed.

After the jump, take an early look at the space with photos while you’re making your plans for this weekend.

Everything about the space is designed to overwhelm, in terms of opulence, aesthetic and even sheer size.  22-foot high ceilings were a must to make room for the signature 18-foot tall black onyx finished Indonesian Buddha statue.  Visually stunning murals of Asian-inspired tattoo art are credited to Tanuja Bora, though we couldn’t find any additional references to the artist or other works online.  And the dining room seats 170 patrons for a menu that will reflect the Pan-Asian influences of its global predecessors with sushi, hot entrees and a sake list that will blow you away.

And if the menu doesn’t get you, the rhythm more than likely will.  It’s no accident that Buddha Bar has put together more than a dozen popular albums of lounge and world music since first opening in 1996.  Washington’s Buddha Bar will feature a DJ booth that has been outfitted with the intention of attracting international talent to spin here in the nation’s capital.  To further sweeten the deal, they’ve even stocked it with a system that allows DJs to play both vinyl and digital albums on the same console.  There may not be an official dance floor, but don’t be surprised to see people taking over the restaurant space to dance as the evening wears on.

You’ve already heard about the Buddha…what about the bar?  Our early look revealed a sake list that included more than 40 bottles available in addition to the extensive wine list and even an impressive list of beers available on tap and by the bottle.  It will be interesting to see how their new “craft bartender” will keep up with the anticipated crush of folks – both the ones eager to try a homemade cocktail and the ones who just want to relax with a cold beer after a long day at work.

Bottle service will be available by reservation in the lounge area, and the space is versatile enough to accommodate quite a few casual Happy Hour guests, as well.  The luxe lounge area is meant to evoke a Francophile salon, and it accomplishes the goal with finely upholstered banquettes and more of those huge lantern chandeliers.  If you’re the kind of person who goes for bottle service while you’re relaxing in a place like this, you’ll be comforted to know that you won’t have to worry about them giving away your table while you’re still working on a round of drinks: the lounge’s reservations will be set for specific time frames so everyone is clear on when your space is booked.

The menu is expected to be unveiled today (it’s hard to keep a thing like that secret once you’re officially open for business).  Buddha Bar will be open for lunch from 11:30 to 3 pm daily starting next week, and they’ll stay open as late as DC allows them to do so (2 AM Monday through Thursday, 3 AM Friday and Saturday) from now on.  If the food is even half as good as the $10 million investment that was put into the decorations, it’s a pretty safe bet that Buddha Bar will find a sizable niche within the Washington night life community.  See you there!

Buddha Bar
455 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC
Buddha Bar on Urbanspoon