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Dinner Help, Before We Kill Each Other

My boyfriend and I need some advice. It is our anniversary next week, and we want to go out to a nice dinner. We’re 25, have eaten at a lot of places in DC (ex: Zatinya, Galileo, Al Tiramisu, Clyde’s, Perry’s, Meze etc.) and eat all the time (ok, we don't cook a lot). He wants it to be super romantic, expensive, etc., and I don’t want to just go to an expensive dinner just to go and have it be not up to the price paid. So far, he’s suggested Marcel’s or 1789. Any suggestions?

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  1. Marcel's is worth it. Great food and romantic. But you pay the price.

    1. My husband and I (along with six other family members) just went to 1789 last weekend and had a blast. I didn't think it was that exspensive (you can do less than 100 per head) but it was definately a good time. The food and service were great. We had dinner in the main room near the fireplace and it would have been very romantic if not for our additional family members being there ;)

      When you make the reservations, let them know that you are celebrating your anniversary.

      Another option would be Restaurant Eve in Old Town

      1. Second Restaurant Eve. I've had anniversary dinners in the bistro and the tasting room, and have never been less than thrilled. Price wise, the bistro is the way to go. And have a properly mixed nightcap at their speakeasy above Eammon's Chipper.

        1. 1789 is very good, but even I felt the vibe there was a little "old," and I was far past 25 when I went there a couple of years ago. I would strongly favor Marcel's in a two-way race there -- I liked the food there a little more as well. Haven't had the pleasure of Eve yet.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Bill on Capitol Hill

            I wonder why some people find 1789 "old" - I'm far from old and felt very comfortable at 1789. However, I've seen other posters refer to the same issue...

            I haven't been to Marcel's though ;) am looking forward to doing so.

          2. Eve is not only the best of the three, but it's a real cozy hideaway.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Steve

              Be sure to request the Tasting Room for super service.

            2. While Restaurant Eve (tasting room) is one of my favorite restaurants in the DC area, I do not think it very romantic. Exceptional food, but crowded and noisy.

              A favorite romantic restaurant is Taberna del Alabardero on 18th Street downtown DC. We ate there again about week ago. A huge Christmas tree is up and both I and my GF commented about what a romantic setting. If you go, the paella is a signature dish and be sure to try the "Romance of Chocolate" dessert. Perfect ending to a great meal.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Dakota Guy

                I think it depends on when you go to the tasting room. I've been on Wednesday and Monday evenings, and early on Sunday and it's never been crowded or noisy.

              2. Thanks for the help! Further comments are appreciated, I'm enjoying everyone talking it out for us.

                1. I've never been to Marcel's, but I've been to 1789 several times and have never had a bad meal. This time of year, it's decorated for the holidays (and you might even have carolers stop by your table - although that might only be on weekends - but only you can decide if that meets your definition of "romantic"). Definitely request a table downstairs & tell them it's your anniversary & they'll treat you right.

                  I've only ever had the paella at Taberna del A - it's why my husband & I go - so I can't comment on the rest of the menu, but the service has always been fine and it is a lovely atmosphere.

                  I've been to Restaurant Eve once and, while the food was very good, the service was painfully slow and, as someone else noted above, the tasting room can be loud and a little cramped.
                  I prefer Palena to Eve - I think the food is at least as good and it's a much quieter atmosphere.

                  1. I like Taberna a lot, but I think it is the epitome of overpriced simply because it is fancy. You can get equally delicioius paella for half the price at any good Spanish restaurant - unfortunately, there are no other good Spanish restaurants in DC.

                    What about Komi? I think it is very reasonable for how lovely it is. The service is unbelievable, and I can imagine they really make things special if it is for a special occasion.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: laurentobias

                      What do you think of the Paella at the following places?:
                      Churriera Madrdid
                      Rincon Espanol
                      Sol de Espana

                      1. re: Steve

                        I think the paella at Churreria Madrid is disappointing. Have not tried Rincon or Sol de Espana (where are they?), and I've only tried Andalucia once, in a huge pan at a party. It was fine, but I'm not going to travel to Bethesda from the District for paella. You'd think with all the tapas joints in DC, one could have decent paella.

                        1. re: laurentobias

                          Rincon Espanol is in Adams Morgan. I can recommend the platano relleno, the tortilla espanol, and especially for winter, the Galician soup (potato and sausage). I know they make paella, but I've never had it.

                    2. I have been dreaming about going to the Inn at Little Washington with my wife for a special dinner, after receiving a stellar review from someone recently, perhaps you could stay the night and make a trip of it.

                      1. Having enjoyed dinner and overnight a couple of times at IALW, just be prepared for the $1000+ final bill (more on weekends, BTW).

                        1. Marcel's is very good, and can be very romantic. It has that old world feel and service.

                          The suggestion for Taberna del Alabardero is also good. We took my son there for his 17th birthday and they treated him very well, even though we did not tell them we were celebrating his birthday. So I don't think you would feel it is too old. It is again, more old world, so I think it can be very romantic.

                          I'd also suggest Citronelle and let them know it is your anniversary to make sure you get a romantic table. Be sure to ask for Mark Slater (the sommelier) and get the perfect bottle of wine to celebrate.

                          Otherwise, how about L'Auberge Provencal in White Post, VA. It can be very romantic, the food is very good, and the inn a jewel.

                          1. Taberna del Alabardero.

                            That was my favorite restaurant in town when I lived in DC, and I am your age. Never felt it was too old. And the somellier, David Bueno, is one of the nicest guys on the planet. Better food than I ever had in Spain, or anywhere in DC, for that matter (although some fo the food at Palena...).

                            If not Taberna, then Palena. Consider brining your own wine as the list is very short. The back room (where you go when you have reservations) is romatic but not stuffy.

                            I have to dissagree with dinwiddie on Citronelle. I found it a bit overpriced, stuffy, and Mark Slater, while incredibly knowledgable, is predatory when it comes to people he thinks may not know their wine -- he will try to dump bottles he's trying to get off the list. I know, he did this to me, suggesting an '96 Figeac over a '95 Cos d'Estournel. (I thought the wine was not very good at all, got home and realized he had reccomended a more expensive, Parker- 82point wine over a less expensive Parker-95point wine.)

                            1. Adding to my above post... don't limit yourself to the paella at Taberna. While incredible, their other dishes, particularly seafood, and even moreso red meat are sublime as well. They are also incredible with soups -- including dessert soups. And I will re-state how great and non-predatory a somellier Bueno is. (Michael Flynn at Kinkead's is another wonderful somellier in the area, but I digress.)

                              You can also try L'Auberge Chez Francois. It isn't the best or most intriguing food in the world, but it is very good, and a nice, romantic experience.

                              Obelisk is romantic in a different way. Just a few tables, wicker seats, it almost feels like they are bringing you into their home, but the food is outstanding. If not the best Italian food in DC, certainly among it. Shortish wine list but the owners/servers know it well.

                              1. My wife and I went to Taberna last week, and neither of us were that impressed. She enjoyed her divers scallop appetizer, and my frisee with serano ham and artichokes was just ok. She ordered the branzini, and commented that while good, she had had better elsewhere. I ordered the suckling pig, and though the portion was huge, and the meat was moist (surprising for pork), it lacked flavor. She ordered the chocolate dream for dessert (which she didn't finish), and I had the spiced pineapple with saffron ice cream, which was very, very good.

                                Of the six tables for two in our little section of the restaurant, three ordered paella. I wondered if we had made a mistake.

                                I can't say we won't be going back there, but for my money, Butterfield 9 is much better.

                                1. You know, I just don't get the 1789 raves. I have been twice (so I'm not an expert) and neither time was I at all impressed. The dessert was even so bad that I stopped eating after one bite.

                                  Taberna is beautiful, but *can* be a little stuffy. Citronelle is exquisite, but the service really depends on who you get for a waiter, and lets face it, bad service can ruin a night. I thought Komi was a little on the pretentious side, although the food was excellent.

                                  Marcel's was incredibly good the one time I went. I'd go again in an instant.

                                  For just romance, I always recommend having a drink in the front room at the Tabard Inn. Especially this time of year when they will likely (although with this weather, who knows?) have the fire place going, it just cannot be beat.

                                  have a great time, and let us know what you do!