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Proposal help PLEASE

I am going to propose this xmas season and part of the proposal surprise is gathering our families to a romantic restaurant - to surprise her after the proposal. I need a private room for 14 people, classy restaurant, and not too pricey ($30-$50/head)

I have looked at a few restaurants and keep finding something wrong with them:

1789 - unavailable that day
2941 - looks great but pricey (about $90/head)
Oya - looks too trendy?
701 - looks too trendy?

Can anyone help recommend a restaurant? DC, Upper MD (bethesda, chevy chase, etc), Northern VA will work. Unfortunately, I am located in San Francisco so all I really have are reviews and pictures to work from.



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  1. Oooooo this is a really fun post!!

    It's too bad 1789 isn't available because it's classic DC, romantic, with good food.

    My number one suggestion would be Equinox. Chef Grey serves up excellent cuisine with seasonal and local overtones. The private room is perfect for this occassion. It's a very cool room and also serves as where they store the wine (in an appealing way..not just bottles everywhere). There are a lot of windows so you can look out into the rest of the restaurant but it feels cozy and private. I'm pretty sure 14 people can fit in there. We had my Grandfather's 80th birthday there with 10 people. The servers were great...present but not in the way and very helpful with the wine selection and questions we had with the menu. It's not cheap, it would probably run closer to $50/person, not counting drinks. But its totally worth it!!

    Another place that is more moderate in price is Tabard Inn. It's very charming with a fireplace and an inn-like feel. There are at least 2 different private areas I believe. Good food, pretty good service, centrally located in Dupont Circle. It's great this time of year, since it has a home-like feeling.

    Finally I believe Poste has a private room, although I've never eaten in it. Poste has good American cuisine, a little something for everyone. More modern feeling then some of the other spots (not that the other restaraurants are out-dated at all). It's not trendy, it's just contemporary. More moderatly priced then say Equinox or 1789.

    Good luck and let us know if you have anymore questions. One thing I would suggest...figure out where you want to eat ASAP and book soon. This time of year, private rooms are hard to find.

    Oh also, I haven't eaten at 701 yet so I can't really recommend it, but I've never heard it described as trendy. Seems pretty classy from what I've heard.

    1. 2941 may be pricey but the spot is beautiful and the private room is so neat. I saw a wedding there the night I went and it was goregous, and the food we had was absolutely great.

      Don't do Oya it is trendy, and not romantic at all.

      1. I confess that I am remiss on many of the more upscale places since having two daughters over the past 2.5 years. However, I'd like to throw into the mix Addie's and BlackSalt for two different reasons, even though they're the same family. Addie's will really go out of their way to cater to you, probably especially if you come to them ahead of time and explain things. Black Salt may start to reach your "too trendy" status, but I think would still be in reason.

        It's now been an unfortunate 4 years since I've been to Obelisk, but I would put that out, too as they (were) pretty attentive to special situations, and of course the food was good, and location great for going out afterwards (if those are your plans).

        I think on a scale of the 3 I've given, it goes from Addie's through Black Salt to Obelisk, with more attention at the top. Not sure what you two really prefer, but that's a range. I wouldn't base it on fluffed service or price, but that's just me.

        1. $30-50 a head including wine and you want a private room in a "classy" restaurant? Is tax and tip included in the $30-50 a head? I'm not trying to be disrespectful but 1789 is priced similarly to 2941 and both can easily be $100 a person with wine, tax and tip.
          Maggiano's can be almost that much, for that matter. I'd take the $700 (i.e. 14 X $50) and go to the Inn at Little Washington for dinner or The Inn at Easton (before they close on 12/31) and have dinner there AND spend the night. Drive by the parents' house afterwards with a bottle or two of wine and tell them about it.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Joe H

            I completely agree, Joe. $30-50 per person is virtually impossible, even in an average restaurant. Also, with it being the holiday season, most private rooms are booked a/o have much higher per person minimums.

            Good luck on your proposal, though!

            1. re: invinotheresverde

              I didn't see the price range. In that case I'll recommend more strongly one of the Black restaurants. I think my wife and I usually hit just over $100 at BlackSalt, and we roam through appetizers and get wine (by the glass). I think you can shave a few bucks off that by going to Addie's. Black's in Bethesda doesn't seem the right place for what you're doing, and I haven't yet been to the fourth installment.

              1. re: Dennis S

                I am a big fan of all of Black's places. However, last night Addie's was a complete disappointment. My steak was gray instead of being seared and tasty (not to mention it was so thin I felt like an in-law they didn’t want back), no seasoning on the spinach, and my wife’s “fish and chips” (scallops wrapped in cross-cut chips) were gritty to the point where we wondered if they used sea sand instead of sea salt. The cab from Chile was good and for $7 a glass it was priced right. That said, I have been to Blacksalt twice and other than the aloof bar tender who served me the second time, I can’t think of anything I’d change about my experiences there. The food was fantastic. Good luck w/ your holiday dinner.

          2. I don't know whether you want an alternative suggestion, but I saw something like this done recently at a local winery, and it worked out beautifully. Rather than a dinner, the fiance arranged a private wine tasting with catered hors d'oeuvres. (The fiancee just thought they were going out to visit the winery, and the event was a surprise to her.) This particular event was at The Winery at La Grange in Haymarket, but many wineries can do this sort of thing.

            In this area most wineries are in Virginia. You can find information about them at http://www.virginiawines.org/wineries....

            Whatever you choose, congratulations!

            1 Reply
            1. re: chriscatva

              I like the private wine tasting idea! I went to Vidalia for their wine tasting, and I saw a private room next to the wine cellar. They have a good selection, and I'm sure you can arrange hors d'oeuvres to go with the tasting (which is what they do on weekdays). That might be an option.

            2. Have you considered doing a meal other than dinner? This would be a good way to cut costs and I see nothing less romantic in a daytime proposal than a nightime one. 2941 offers private dining brunch menus and Black Salt also does brunch and might be willing to seat you privately in the new tasting room area.

              1. There are some good suggestions on here already, but I'll add one.

                Central has a private room overlooking the kitchen that can accomodate 14+. Not sure about the pricing, however.

                1. Willow is a fabulous chef owned and operated restaurant in Arlington VA that should be perfect for such an occasion! Last year I took my husband and a couple of friends for his birthday and can still remember how wonderful everything was.
                  The food is excellent and the service is perfection and definitely not the "we're so classy that you should be honored to eat at our overpriced establishment" :)

                  Highly recommended!

                  Also, you can check out photos of the place and view their menu on their website -


                  1. I recommend Bistro d'Oc in downtown DC. It serves fine French bistro fare at reasonable prices. While it is not as upscale as 1789 or 2941, it is very cosy and romantic. Be sure to ask for seating upstairs as that is where the private seating is (and the fireplace). Here's the website: www.bistrodoc.com. There are some photos under the "Private Rooms and Bar" section under the "About" tab on the homepage.
                    Good luck and best wishes.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Hungry Panda

                      How could I forget Bistro D'Oc!? Great idea. Their food is excellent and the restaurant is much more moderatly priced then some of the other spots you were considering. The upstairs private room is nice, not as charming as the downstairs area but still very cute.

                      It's a personal favorite "date night" spot for me and my boyfriend. And it's perfect for a group where people might have different tastes. The duck confit is a personal favorite as is the french onion soup.

                      It's close to Metro Center and might not be booked up like some of the bigger named restaurants.

                    2. You're probably way too young to appreciate this suggestion, but your families might like it. Jack Kennedy proposed to Jackie at Martin's Tavern in Georgetown, and you can do the same thing in the same booth, #3 (it's called either the Kennedy Booth or the Proposal Booth). Martin's is hardly trendy, nor what you would call romantic, having been there for 70 years. But again the families might like it, depending on their political leanings, and what could be more memorable for her than being proposed to in the exact spot where Jackie got the question popped? Movers and shakers have dined there for decades. The food is fine for what it is, ie traditional bar foods, steaks, etc etc. I don't know if they have private rooms up, but I'm sure they could do something for you if you work it out in advance.

                      1. I thought of one more place...Firefly! Certainly cool, charming (think big, magical looking tree in the center of the room), good food. Fun neighborhood spot in Dupont Circle. Rumor has it they have a private room though I haven't seen it so I don't know how big it is. But its certainly with in your budget.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Elyssa

                          Firefly is an excellent idea. The food is great and it's a very cozy place, great atmosphere. I would stay away from BlackSalt because of the noise level. I was there last on a Thursday and couldn't carry on a conversation with my dinner companion, it was extremely frustrating. And I suspect any night over the holidays will be busy. Another suggestion that definitely fits your price range is Dino in Cleveland Park (rustic Italian). They have a private room. You'll find lots of posts on the board about it.

                        2. I'm not sure of many places that would fit your description and price point for dinner. Most places I can think of entree prices are around $22-35. Having said that, 701 is classy, not trendy. I had a great meal there over the summer and probably the best service I have ever had. In VA, there is something I love about Tallula for this occasion. It is located in Clarendon section of Arlington. It is really cozy, neighborhood place with great wine and food. They have a back room that you could probably reserve but I would call ASAP. Old Town Alexandria has tons of restaurants but not sure about private rooms. It would be a beautiful location esp. since everything would be decorated for the holidays. You can check out list of restaurants on this site:



                          1. I had my rehearsal dinner in the upstairs room at Local 16 on 16th and U St. NW. They had appetizer/dinner/dessert options from I think $20–$35 pp. It was served buffet style, but was very classy and everyone loved it. The staff were friendly and attentive. We brought our own wine with a $5 per bottle corking fee. Also, there was no extra room charge. Caviat was that at 9 pm (at least on Fridays, which is when I was there) they open the room to the public as a bar. http://localsixteen.com/

                            1. Take her to one of the monuments such as the steps of Jefferson-very romantic at night with lights reflecting on river. It will be a lovely private moment then take her to dinner with family to share the news. Not sure if Old Ebbit will fit your price range, but very DC.