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Sep 25, 2002 12:03 PM

am suddenly trepidatious...

  • p

about my restaurant choice for what could be a very wonderful evening, and I don't even know if trepidatious is a word.

Have a Nashville 'hound coming to town; potential luuuurv match. Want a great meal -- have made a reservation at Obelisk. Is there ANY chance the dinner will suck? I looked it up on digital city and saw lots of negative comments, but in general it is you good people I trust.

Am inspired by the romantic/creative thread and would be open to those suggestions as well -- what is the story with Mendocino Bar and Grill or Makoto -- and as faithful readers know am always in favor of Yanyu.

So am looking for sure-fire, delicious, potentially romantic, great service: is Obelisk my best bet? Am not a Galileo fan.

Joe H., on your rec. will be ferrying him out to old anglers after or before dinner; probably after. How late does the lounge remain open?

thanks in advance. My entire romantic life hinges on your responses.

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  1. Obelisk is a good choice for everything except the romantic part. The tables are VERY close together and I always feel a bit awkward in close quarters with the couples on each side of us.

    The same goes for Makoto, and they only have 4 or 5 tables in the entire restaurant. It's a cool place with the best Japanese food in DC, but sitting on a pinewood box for a couple of hours may not be what you are looking for.

    While it's not the most creative DC area restaurant, I would go to L'Auberge Chez Fran├žois. It's got a french county feel and has stellar Alsatian food. It's definitely romantic as well. It's a prix fixe menu running $45-50 pp. A fantastic fine dining value for the DC area.

    20 Replies
    1. re: Moe Green

      While I would agree with what Moe Green said (and who'da thunk I'd ever type *those* words? (cf. The Godfather)), it kinda depends on whether you want a prototypically *romantic* or private setting, or, instead, a quiet and comfortable, unpretentious (some might even say austere) setting, with scrumptious food. For the latter, it's hard to beat Obelisk and Makoto. (Tosca would be another good bet.) But if privacy, or a fireplace, or elegance, or discretion, is what you're seeking, you might want to try someplace else.

      1. re: Marty L.

        INTERESTING options.
        I love Tiramisu; intimate, great white truffle risotto...small. Good idea.
        Not so hip on L'auberge -- am a bit overcome by the agressive alsatian decorations and don't especially like their brand o' French (northern, heavy on the cream) but they do have good souffles.
        My mind is REELING with suggestion that I may want a "discreet" restaurant. Good lord, people, this is a FIRST DATE. do not anticipate scrumping under table...although, with the right restaurant and a goodly amount of wine...
        Keep the cards and letters coming.
        At present in toss up between Tira and Obel; former sure fire, latter always wanted to try. More options? More opinions? More dirty innuendo? :)

        1. re: pam h

          I would definitely chose obel over tira. I've been to the former several times and can't wait to go back; the latter only twice, and while the food is very good, it's not nearly as interesting or inventive.

          1. re: Louise Z.

            obel it is! Have a reservation for 2 on Oct. 11, in case any of you want to hang around out front and spy on us. You people are a RIOT. However, am now mortified-in-advance that this 'hound will check out the DC boards before trip (for which, come to think of it, I am still waiting on confirmation...) and see all of my machinations.

            Joe -- I hear you on Old Anglers; the drive might be daunting. Am the Queen of the Tabard; did you not know? Unfortunately, have already cemented 2 previous relationships in front of the fire there so think the chi might be off (then again, it might really be on) WOrst comes to worst, I'll angle him into Tabard and with luck we'll get a seat. Took a somewhat famous television type there a few weeks ago on date (in neverending quest for love, after a splendid dinner at Kinkeads -- pepita encrusted salmon and parmesan gnocchi with lobster and peas and fava beans) and he liked. Although was that soupy hot period we had and very little could be done to cool the place sufficiently.

            Henley Park Hotel: v. interesting. Had not considered; think I had a disappointing tea there a couple of years ago. Willing to give another try in pursuit of luurv and possible scrumping. Will keep you all updated.

            1. re: pam h

              Hmm...."Queen of the Tabard."

              Well at least I noted a good place if two relationships came out of it. The Old Anglers is in the same spirit. Have you ever been to New Orleans? There's a place there called The Old Blacksmith Shop that must set the national standard for "scrumping." Another good "scrump" by the way is the Milton Inn north of Baltimore in Sparks. (By the way what does "scrump" mean, Pappy?)

              While we're talking about places to "scrump" you should also consider Steamboat Landing which sits at the end of a pier 50 yards out into the West River in Galesville, Maryland. It has floor to ceiling plate glass windows with boats docked on three sides. The light inside at night is dim and much of the illumination actually comes off of the water. Years ago Steamboat Landing was a great seafood restaurant that featured exemplery crab cakes and crab imperial along with cream of crab soup that Southern Living did an article about. It has changed hands three or four times since the early '80's when I took a lot of first dates there. (Pappy, we seem to have interesting variations on the same style!) Just always seemed like the kind of place that I would want to come back to for an anniversary (if that might result). The walk out on the pier, after dark, was just incredible. I would actually go there hoping that we would have to wait an hour or longer for our table. Then (not now) they had superb pina coladas made with coco lopez, a lot of rum, ice cream a "bit" of ice and topped with heavy whipping cream. A long stemmed cherry, too. It really took some focus not to get loaded while waiting for dinner and wandering around this dimly lit pier set out in the middle of the river. To this day I am amazed that I never fell in! (There are probably grandparents of West River ducks that remember me from then.)
              Having said all this my wife and I (who have been together for ten years) went there for the FIRST time two months ago. The restaurant we went to for our first date, the Chart House in Alexandria, we have not been back to since. Pam, I don't quite know what the message is in all of this other than often when you hope that something might have a future and you plan accordingly, well, it never works.
              If you were the queen of the Tabard then I was the King of the Steamboat. But for me the wait was worth it.
              If anyone on this board goes to Steamboat Landing make sure you go after the sun sets. And order the cream of crab soup. That hasn't changed. Everything else but not that. Still the setting is really special. A great place to "scrump." Whatever that is.

              1. re: pam h
                James G (in Beijing)

                Been enjoying this thread very much, and wondering whether the Nashville hound is not likely to check the board and see all these mentions of scrumping, etc. I think Obelisk is going to be a fantastic choice--it is a lovely place, food is excellent, and Dupont Circle is quite a nice place to take a visitor for a stroll afterwards. I also think that after a good dinner a stroll is preferable to a drive.

                Can't wait to read how it went and what you'll be serving at the wedding!

                1. re: James G (in Beijing)

                  Dear Chowhounds, and James in Beijing:
                  thank you for your interest in my love life and I will be SURE to post a report if -- and this is a big if -- he actually COMES to DC. It remains a bit in flux, I fear.
                  However, if we are all of us worried this 'hound might do an advance check on his trip by signing on to the boards and become spooked by the implied ardor here on my part, can we AGREE that POSTING QUESTIONS about the upcoming wedding is in POOR FORM?
                  That said, everyone who responds to this thread will be invited, and the food will be OFF THE HOOK.

                  ("Off the Hook" for those of you over 20 or not regular viewers of MTV, is a good thing. "Scrumping" I think has been adequately dissected.)

                  1. re: pam h

                    Pam, perhaps we should be discussing the merits of the red eye gravy on the breakfast biscuits at the Loveless Cafe in Nashville. What kind of jelly do you prefer?

                    1. re: Joe H.

                      i am all about the honey. jelly gives me the willies. so clear and jiggly and god awful sweet. honey has a nice bitter undertone.

                      have never darkened door of Loveless Cafe, but live for a good biscuit. Provided my Nashville compatriot a) comes to DC b)likes me and I him and c) suggests a reciprocal visit, I will eat there and report back.

                      Red eye gravy ...I don't know. Sounds so gross -- coffee and fat?

                      1. re: pam h

                        Ah, jiggly jelly! Especially at the Loveless Cafe which, despite it's name, has absolutely incredible breakfast. Biscuits that even Hardees in Carolina would rob for!
                        Pam, you simply have to get this man to your own turf, i.e. the fireplace on N street that you have innocently immortalized. My guess is that red eye gravy will only taste better after a night in front of the fire.

                        1. re: Joe H.

                          I SO AGREE.
                          imagine MY frustration that no flight plan has been forthcoming from my southern 'hound. but a girl can only nag so much before a man she has never seen will run for the exit.
                          maybe you'd like to send him a note? just explaining that there are a bunch of people who really want to see if we two kids have the spark in person that emails and phone calls promise? I don't think THAT will freak him out.
                          if I get him to DC he is MINE. No man can resist me at the Tabard lounge on a cold night.
                          thanks for good wishes. am hopeful.

                          1. re: pam h

                            I believe it is a safe assumption that he has a disproportionately large pimple on the end of his nose that has not yet "reached maturity." He could be afraid of a cold night with you at the Tabard-it might accelerate growth of the prominent protusion of his proboscis that he otherwise is embarrassed of. Sometimes it is better never to have known an immature or underdeveloped proboscis.

                            1. re: Joe H.

                              This is latest message from my would-be paramour. seems to be all systems go. A week and counting...

                              "am coming to dc. promise. in all caps. PROMISE. will apprise you of details just before suspense drives you insane.
                              will be there in time for dinner."

                              again, thank you for your personal investment in my emotional life. thinking a good dose of benzoyle peroxide ought to take care of things nicely.
                              lord knows I've laid in a supply for just such an eventuality.

                              1. re: pam h

                                I feel like I'm cutting in on your pas de deux with Mr. H., but as an early contributor to and embarassingly loyal reader of this thread, and at the risk of displaying my vast pharmaceutical ingorance, I simply must ask: what's benzoyle peroxide?

                                1. re: Louise Z.

                                  ...and how many of us are going to be loitering on the sidewalks of P Street Friday night, peering left and right for the couple giggling that tell-tale "first date laugh?"

                                  1. re: Pappy

                                    Sidewalk, schmidewalk... let's book a table!

                                    P.S. Just kidding, Pam.

                                    1. re: louise Z.

                                      again, repeat: A RIOT.
                                      Checking this thread every hour or so has SERIOUSLY cut into my productivity at work. But so does emailing Mr. Nashville. I probably should just get fired and be done with it.
                                      Louise: BP is critical ingredient in anti-pimple creams (see earlier message from I think Joe H., who was speculating about what could possibly be reason Nashville was not forthcoming with travel plans)

                                      Now feel responsible for your daily entertainment. Is too much pressure on top of trying to arrange perfect date with perfect stranger.
                                      But appreciate your support and interest! if it doesn't work out, we all get a good story anyway. Am bracing for disastrous let down, but hopeful eyes will meet and lock across crowded room etc.
                                      Will let you know. If things go ESPECIALLY well I'll make him sign on with me...over coffee and bagels the next morning. :)

            2. re: pam h

              Ah, dirty innuendo!

              1. Obelisk is superb.
              2. It is fairly simple and straightforward-there
              shouldn't be anything unnerving in the menu that
              you see.
              3. It is small with 36 seats. Quite intimate and
              personal despite being essentially rather plain.
              4. There is nothing in Nashville that can touch this
              for what you will be served.
              5. Service is extremely friendly and efficient-they
              have an enthusiasm that they share with their
              6. The wine list is reasonably priced and has some
              really good bottles with "responsible" markups.
              7. I have to believe he will be impressed that you
              chose a personal, creative and superb restaurant
              like this that has been chosen one of the 50 best
              in America by several publications. In more than
              ten visits I have never had less than an excellent
              meal. My wife and I went there on our last anni-
              versary. Frankly, I would probably pick it over
              my current favorite, Tosca, because of its
              "intimate" size especially for a first date.

              Afterwards is the problem. It is a long drive to the Old Angler's Inn. An easy drive-P st. to Wisconsin and out Canal to the Cabin John Parkway to MacArthur, but after a bottle or so of wine it is still a long way. The Tabard Inn used to have quite a good lounge that was dimly lit and very comfortable. This is just off of Connecticut Avenue but it's been quite a while since I was last there. Frankly, Pam, I would just leve Obelisk and walk around the Dupont Circle, Connecticut Avenue area. If the weather is good you could just as easily be in Paris or London and this is a great area to explore. The Taberb Inn is at 1739 N Street and is really not that far away if you happen near it. It also has a fireplace and the same kind of feeling as the Old Anglers Inn.
              By the way I have never been to Al Tirmisu but I know that it would also be an excellent choice. I just prefer Obelisk because of the quality of its food.
              Good luck!

              1. re: pam h

                I was single for many years in DC, and remember worrying endlessly about many dates.

                The restaurant, while important, is not the most critical element. Tira or Obel will both offer a great meal, with a great wine list, pleasant service, nice surroundings and several sensual food offerings. If he's a 'hound, do Obel, if he's not, you're probably better off with the larger menu at Tira.

                In my recollection, the secret to a great date is to head to the Henley Park Hotel afterwards (valet parking). Downstairs is a wonderfully dark bar, usually featuring a jazz duet, and, this is important...banquets. You and your date sit next to each other on the banquet, order after-dinner drinks, and listen to the music. Perfect for "scrumping(?)," whatever that is.

                And don't forget to report back! You've got us all hooked!


                1. re: Pappy

                  Uh...I think for *most* people "scrumping" isn't something you do in public or with clothes on, if ya get my drift.

          2. What about "Al Tiramisu?" Small, cozy. Or, "Bistrot Lepic." Went to the former on Valentine's day w/ my fiance, and w/ my now wife to the latter for the same ocassion.


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