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Jan 10, 2002 09:39 AM

Restaurant Week - Where oh Where to Have Lunch? HELP!

  • l

Hi folks,
Just want to say how much I've enjoyed visiting the Chowhounds website these past few months. Everyone's suggestions are entertaining & informative.

I think I'll buckle down & splurge for Restaurant Week Redux next week, but for lunch. I work at 11th & L NW, with a 1 hr lunchtime, so I have to limit myself to restaurants that are no more than a 10-min. brisk walk away. That counts out places in Georgetown, Capitol Hill & upper Conn. Ave. Also I want to go to places I've never dined at before (I've previously been treated to meals at the Morrison Clark, Coeur de Lion, Corduroy, Galileo [for breakfast - at 1 time they had that] & Red Sage [chili bar upstairs, & carry-out market many times]). So these narrowed-down choices are where I would LOVE your suggestions:
701 Restaurant
Butterfield 9
Taberna del Alabardero
Ortanique (this place is brand-new, where BET was)
Ristorante Tosca
Ten Penh

Prime Rib, Spezie, Teatro Goldoni & Vidalia are ?s on my list, as they're a bit farther away. They would REALLY have to be worth the walk - I can't normally take a 90-min. lunch.

I'm not just looking for delicious food, but also pretty decor & good service. And hopefully places that dont limit the Rest. Week lunch specials to 11-11:30am & a choice of only 3 so-so entrees! Please tell me of any places (or dishes) to avoid. I read some of the chats about the last Rest. Week, both the good & the bad. I'm not a vegetarian & am open to any cuisine (just no liver dishes or foie de gras please!)

Many thanks!!!

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  1. Hi Lori - I agree about this bulletin board - the dialogues are very helpful!

    I too will be participating in Restaurant Week (lunch with a large group of girls at Galileo). Here's where I've eaten and what I thought:

    701 Restaurant: Haven't been there in a few years but it was good - that's about all I recall.

    Taberna del Alabardero: I love this restaurant (when I'm not paying!) Great service and wonderful Spanish food. If you've never been, it's worth the trip.

    Occidental: Serviceable. I'd try something different given the opportunity.

    Ten Penh: Had lunch there a few weeks ago. Very good - order the dumplings as a appetizer if you go, and the s'mores for dessert if it's an option.

    Spezie: also lunch recently. Really enjoyed it. Had the aged beef as an appetizer (like carpaccio) - it was light and wonderful - and the spinach mezzaluna pasta as an entree - homemade pasta in a lovely, light sauce. I would definitely eat there again.

    Teatro Goldoni: had dinner there once. Skip it.

    Vidalia: I've read recent postings/articles that they're slipping but had lunch there within the past 6 months and thought it was fine. Had the shrimp and grits, a specialty of theirs, and really enjoyed the meal.

    Hope this helps! Now go have a great meal . . .

    1. We had dinner at Butterfield 9 during the last promotion, and that was good. Not sure about lunch, but I'm sure it'll be a set menu for you to choose from. Simple, modern atmosphere, and good service.

      TenPenh is a hot spot, and i've been meaning to go, but haven't had the time. That would be a good choice as well.

      We snagged reservations for 1789, Saturday night at 6:30 PM. Any suggestions/help?

      Happy eating!

      1. Here's what I can tell you about a few on the list:

        Tosca -- I tried Tosca for dinner during the first restaurant week and was thrilled with the appetizer and dessert and totally underwhelmed by the entree (bland buckwheat pasta with a forgetable (forgotten) sauce). There were no choices at all and the service was indifferent.

        Taberna -- My office had its holiday luncheon there and it was absolutely spectacular. I'd go here if I were you. I think it's just what you're looking for.

        Butterfield 9 -- My SO had dinner there this week and didn't like it much. The food was ok but not worth the price (the tuna tartare appetizer and baked Alaska dessert were just so-so)

        Ten Penh -- We had dinner there a month or so ago and the dumplings were great, but it was pretentious, very pricy and the food generally looked better than it tasted.

        1. A difficult question. I work near you (12th/F) and visited many of the places you name during the last restau week and was disappointed. Butterfield 9, which is normally one of my local faves, and Tosca (ditto) both were serious let-downs. Ten Penh, on the other hand, was great, and so was Olives (I have not been to Olives during a 'regular' meal, so cannot compare). If you're looking for company, let me know...

          1. Lori:
            My wife and I celebrated Valentine's Day two years ago at Taberna which is one of our favorite restaurants. The food is overall excellent but this is a spectacular restaurant with a lot of ambience where they try to make everyone feel special. This, along with the Prime Rib, are absolute musts that you have to experience. The Prime Rib is swanky, the type of place that you would go for a special occasion and dres to the nines. (Unless you wanted to meet a 60 year old congressman and went to the bar which has been a specialty of their's since opening in the mid '70's.) If you go to the Prime Rib you should consider their crab cakes and their crab imperial. Remember this was originally a Baltimore restaurant and their versions are exemplery.
            Back to Taberna: it really is one of the most romantic restaurants in the city. Why don't you meet James G. there? You may have something in common. If you do then you couldn't have handpicked a better restaurant in D. C. for a first meeting.

            9 Replies
            1. re: Joe

              Regrettably, I am happily spoken for, much to the dismay, I am sure, of many readers of this board ;-) But luncheon meetings with other Chowhounders are always a possibility, especially at a great place like Taberna. Thanks though, Joe, for looking out for my best interests.

              1. re: James G

                Happily married, but as I work downtown & the hubby works in Montgomery Co., we don't get weekday lunches together at restaurants.

                Anybody have any personal reports yet of their Restaurant Week II experiences?

                1. re: Lori

                  Similar situation here. Have not been to any Restau Week places, largely owing to persistent flu or something. Living vicariously through the board.

                  1. re: James G

                    I haven't reserved yet for Taberna(!) because I'm a bit hesitant to eat in such a fancy, expensive reataurant alone for lunch. Wouldn't that look odd to other diners & the wait staff? Usually it's men dining alone in a fancy restaurant. I have absolutely no problem dining alone in a casual or self-serve place. Asking co-workers to join me is not really a choice. Should I just say "screw it" & book a reservation?

                    1. re: Lori

                      I travel about 125 days a year throughout North America and Europe and usually end up dining alone because of this. (re: my earlier post about Gary Danko) Twenty years ago when I started this type of travel it was really difficult for me to even go into a Denny's by myself let alone to call a three star in Italy and "make a reservation for one." It was something of a rarity if I saw a lone female in a dining room.
                      Today it's really different, Lori. Not only do I not have any hesitation to "make a reservation for one" at a restaurant where nobody speaks English overseas but it has become almost a rarity when I don't see a lone female dining by herself. When I do I respect her independence and give her credit for the self assurance and poise I'm sure it takes. Without exception I almost always regard the lone female as successful rather than having, say, B. O.
                      Bottom line: "screw it," and treat yourself. You deserve it!
                      An alternative by the way would be to have lunch at the bar. If the dining room is a big step perhaps this might be a lesser one.

                      1. re: Joe

                        Another possibility, Lori, would be to ask if anyone on the board was interested in filling out a table for 4 at lunch? Presumably you'd all have 'hounding in common and lots to talk about. Seems like an enjoyable hour to me (btw, I am also happily married and my spouse also works in Montgomery County). In fact, I'm surprised Joe didn't mention it himself!

                        1. re: Bill

                          Considering that Taberna is one of my wife's favorite restaurants is there a possibility of she and I joining Lori and ? for, say, lunch on Friday? Whether we have four or more this could be an interesting opportunity to meet.

                          1. re: Joe

                   appears my plans to be out of town are going to fall through anyway, so if a reservation is available I'd be happy to join Joe, Wife, Lori(?) and/or any other 'hounds for lunch on Friday. Let me know by board-message or email if we can work it out. Can't wait to hear even more about Chicken Tikki Masala!

                            1. re: Bill

                              Who else would like to join us on Friday? I promise to keep my opinions to an absolute minimum!