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Dec 17, 2007 07:16 PM

Birthday dinner in DC or NoVa, please help!

Hi, I am looking for a nice birthday dinner recommendation in either Northern VA or DC. Nice but not too pricey (~$100/pp max - preferably less) - mostly focused on great food and service. Some restaurants I have wanted to try - Cityzen, Corduroy, Restaurant Eve, Central Michel Richard. Another thing - hubby and I are not into sweetbreads, organ meats or truffles (I know, egads) - but pretty much like everything else (so we never tried Maestro, even though everyone raves about it -- it had too many of those chichi things that we probably would not enjoy on the menu)!

Thanks in advance for any advice you can give us!

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  1. Since you have some culinary requirements, I wouldn't recommend you go to either Cityzen or the Chef's Tasting Room at Restaurant Eve. You surrender at least some control over what you eat when you dine off a tasting menu. Besides, only the three-course tasting menu at Cityzen falls within your budget. At Cityzen, the six-course tasting menu costs $105. At Restaurant Eve, the five-course tasting menu costs $95 and the nine-course menu costs $125.

    Central seems a bit casual and hectic to qualify as a nice birthday dinner. Even with these eliminations, you're left with two lovely options from your list: The Bistro at Restaurant Eve and Corduroy. Why don't you check out the online menus from to see which foods best match up with your likes and dislikes?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Indy 67

      Thanks Indy 67 - this is really helpful!! I love my fellow chowhounders! Both menus look great - I will see which one I can get into for Friday (on such short notice)!!

    2. I would recommend 2941 in Falls Church. It has a great wine list. We did not do the tasting menu we ordered a la carte and it was very good. I feel like a broken record but they had a braised veal that was out of this world good.

      I like the bistro at Restaurant Eve quite a bit, I haven't been to the tasting room yet. I agree that when you have some eating requirements the tasting menus may not be the best idea. The BF is a picky eater and it is always hard for us because I want the tasting menus and he doesn't.

      2 Replies
      1. re: ktmoomau

        Thanks ktmoomau - I do like 2941 - we have not been there in a year or so. So it sounds like the quality has not gone down with the departure of Chef Krinn? Are the breads still fabulous as well (I assume Chef Krinn's father left when he left?)

        1. re: Suburban Chowhound

          The temporary chef is very good, I do not think quality when down at all. Although the bread may not be quite as good I found it still homemade and very tasty when we went. The only thing I wasn't thrilled about were the dessert options they were a little "normal restaurant dessert" for me, but I was so thrilled with my entree and lobster salad app that I was fine with just cotton candy actually.

      2. How about having a drink at the PX and then dinner up the street at Vermilion? Chef Chittum's food is delicious and the price point can't be beat for the quality. I like the wood and velvet feel of the interior. You could order apps, entree and dessert and be well within your budget. Happy bday!

        1. I would certainly recommend Restaurant Eve. I ate in the bistro portion and had an excellent meal. It was very rustic and romantic. From what I hear the Tasting Room is a little more adventorous so you might want to call and find out if they use a lot of the foods you try to avoid (my bf is the same way). Everyone is going to try to push you to the tasting room but I'm hear to say the Bistro is absolutly excellent and it won't disappoint.

          In DC, another place you might want to consider besides Central is Equinox. The food is seasonal and wonderful. There is also the back room of Palena for delicious Italian-inspired cuisine.

          In a slightly cheaper price range I would recommend checking out Zola, Butterfield 9, and PS7. In VA I really enjoyed The Majestic but this might be too casual for you.

          1. Hi everyone,

            I just wanted to report back. Thanks to all for the great suggestions! It turns out we could not get a reservation before 9:30 pm for Restaurant Eve for the night we wanted (and that is a bit too late for us) so we tried Vermillion. We wanted to try PX for drinks as monavano suggested, but they don't open until 7 - and with 2 wee ones at home, our nights our require an earlier start.

            The service was fine at Vermillion. We had a nice window table for two upstairs. For starters I tried the bibb salad - which was very refreshing, tasty and tangy - though, probably better suited to a summer / spring night -- none of the soups or "wam" appetizers appealed to me. Hubby had the bean nicoise salad, which was very good as well. For our main courses, I had the spring chicken duo - which I found a tad too salty. It was very tender and crispy, but oversalted. The wild "dirty rice" I loved - and it was a decent foil to the chicken's saltiness. Hubby had the beef striploin and shortrib - the shortrib was akin to the roast beef "debris" we are used to getting in New Orleans - very tender, beefy and delicious - it really made the dish standout. Then for dessert we had the cheese plate and the pumpkin cake. The cheese plate had very generous helpings of cheese - the servers did not tell us what was on the plate, a minor annoyance, but they were very tasty cheeses - as far as we could tell, a goat cheese, a brie or camembert-like cheese, a machengo or parmesan-like (or very aged white cheddar) cheese and a blue. My pumpkin cake was cold, but decent tasting, but what made it was the homemade caramel ice cream on the side. And the cake and my coffee was on the house for my birthday - a nice touch. We also had a bottle of the iron horse sparkling wine -- very nice.

            Overall, I would go back to Vermillion -- it was a good experience and good value for our money. A little less salt in my chicken dish and a touch warmer on the pumpkin cake and it would have been even better.

            Thanks all for the suggestions -- we have added a few more restaurants to try on our wish list!