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Jun 28, 2000 07:25 PM

Steakhouses in Washington - help me pick one! (more)

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I'm part of a group of 7 old college buddies (we all went to Johns Hopkins, in Baltimore, in the mid-'90s) who meet annually for a ritual we call Mens' Night. We're scattered - I'm in England, some of us are on the West Coast or Chicago, a few are left in the Baltimore/Washington area - but we make a point of meeting once a year for this hallowed eve.

On Mens' Night we get dolled up, go to a steakhouse, drink good whisky, enjoy a big vintage Bordeaux, and eat large pieces of red meat; later we retire to a bar or club, sip on port and smoke Habana Montecristo #2's (if I can get a hold of 'em), and talk about girls.... Politically incorrect? Yes, absolutely. And we're proud of it.

We began the tradition at Ruth's Chris, in Baltimore. We moved on to the Capitol Grille in Washington for a few years (it never disappointed but eventually it was time to move on), and then tried (and were disappointed by) Smith and Wollensky's last year. This year will be the last Mens' Night to take place in Washington for a while, and I'd like to make sure we don't go wrong with our choice of steakhouse.

I'd like to shy away from the Big Chains (Ruth's Chris, Mortons, S&W etc.). I was never much impressed by the Prime Rib in Baltiomre, but maybe the one in DC is different. I've heard some good things about the Palm and am leaning towards going there, but still don't know much about it. We're looking for good food (of course), a good wine list, and a classy atmosphere that is very Washington. When we go to Chicago, we'll eat at the original Morton's or at Eli's - they're truly Chicago places. Likewise, we would like to find a place that oozes Washington-ness. I'll always remember taking a girlfriend to Le Lion d'Or, then one of DC's most highly vaunted restaurants, in 1996 and being awed by the very Washington-ness of all the Congressmen with their 20-year-old blonde aides.... ;-) So....Any ideas? Recommendations?

(I wanted to go somewhere like the DC L'espinasse or the Willard Room, but I'm not sure that the wallets of all the guys would stand up to the battering they'd get when the bill comes.)

The other question - slightly off-topic, I'll admit - is this: Does anybody have any favorite hotel bars in Washington? We'll be having Mens' Night on a Sunday night and would like to find a quiet, elegant place to chat after dinner. I'd happily do the groundwork myself but for the fact that I'm a few thousand miles away....

Thanks for your suggestions!


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  1. Happy to see you here, Eli :)

    1 Reply
    1. I love the Palm...and with it's carictures all over the room and all of the DC power brokers it's definitely Washington even though it will ALWAYS be NY :)
      On the other hand you said you were interested in "classy" I believe, and I don't think I'd use that adjective for the Palm.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Michael

        If you *must* eat at the Palm, make sure you nab one of their discount certificates. I keep getting them, probably because I subscribe to "forbes"; they give you 50% off your lobster. Makes even the Palm tolerable.

      2. I still love the Prime Rib with its 50's leopardskin rug and oozing a certain class of Sinatra styled guy - most in their 70's and 80's. You can get a damn good martini there too. Plus it's on THE Washington Power corridor - K St. The Palm is NY. But it seems to have made its place here in Washington too.

        The Monocle (D St NE), which is a kind of steakhouse, but very possibly not what you are looking for as it is contained in a small house and somewhat more pubby looking than clubby has attracted the Republican Meat Eating power contingent from the Senate side and also Supreme Court justice clarence Thomas likes it. I've poked my head in, but never for long, I'm not actually much of a Steak eater. I'll ask some of my lobbying friends where they would go and come back with a few more suggestions.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Cap Hill
          Celeste McCall

          Here's another one--and it's unusual--a combination steakhouse and country and western dance hall. It's located on Capitol Hill's Barracks Row. Upstairs, the mainly (but not totally) gay clientele chows down on various cuts of steak, as well as seafoods and good burgers. Then folks may roll downstairs and kick up their heels, while burning off calories! Some evenings, proprietor Sandy Thompson offers c&w dance lessons.

          Decor is funky-fun with exposed bricks and soaring atrium, plus, some wild west salon touches like gilt mirrors and chandeliers.

          Sheridan's 1874 Old West Steak House, 713 Eighth Street SE (202-546-6955)
          Open daily; dinner only

        2. Sam and Harry's is a fine non-chain steakhouse on 19th Street. One tip: the last time I was there I asked how "rare" "rare" is and was told "cool, blue" center. So I was scared off and got "medium rare", which turned out to be somewhat overdone. I'd definitely go with "rare" next time. Sam and Harry's also runs a 50% off sale on all their wines on certain nights during the summer.

          1 Reply
          1. re: greg

            I second the recommendation for Sam & Harry's, it's just what you too-fabulous folks are looking for. More elegant than The Palm, very goood, dark, clubby atmosphere, quiet. Haven't been in years, but the steaks were wonderful.

          2. Eli, we're talking Warshington, which is to great steakhouses as is Damascus to a kosher deli. That said, Sam and Harry's is probably the most acceptable (tell Mike Steinberg I say hello); Morton's is doable for business; the Palm is a pale imitation of Palm Too; and Ruth's Chris, which should be avoided. Better you should have some Ethiopian.