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Exquisite Dinner, something innovative and special: Recommendations?

My friend and I have been treating each other to spectacular meals for our birthdays for going on seven years. The gifter chooses the restaurant and treats, carefully selecting based on the WP dining guide, the Washingtonian's 100 Best Bets, and now I pose the question to you, Chowhounders. So far, in order, we've enjoyed: Oceanaire, Palena, Little Fountain Cafe, Cashions Eat Place, Equinox, 2941, Aquarelle, Obelisk, Maestro, MiniBar, Citronelle, and CitZen.

Where should we go next? Price is worth noting, but we are willing to splurge for excellence.

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  1. Is money not important here?

    I would suggest Komi. While I've never eaten here it would be at the top of my list since it's so hot and suppose to be incredible.

    If you are willing to travel outside of the city, I highly recommend Restaurant Eve. I ate in the bistro and it was one of the best meals I've ever had. I hear the tasting room is outstanding as well.

    For something in the more moderate range I would suggest Hook.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Elyssa

      A couple of years ago, I took my friend for a birthday lunch to Restaurant Eve (bistro) and it was wonderful!

      I had the confit of pork belly (Hey! I work out! ) and she had bouillabaise.

    2. Komi is fabulous. The atmosphere is very subdued, so don't go expecting a lush space. But the food is the star, and you will be thrilled. Make reservations now!

      1 Reply
      1. re: dcandohio

        I third the Komi recommendation... spectacular! I didn't see the Tabbard Inn on the list. It's been a DC favorite for years, not to be missed!

        If you're up for a trek to the Hill, try Locanda on Penn Ave, SE. Teriffic pasta! It's a more casual experience, but lovely.

        Oh, and lets not forget the hot new comer... The Source, Wolfgang Puck's new place at 5th & Penn, NW.

      2. Count mine as another vote for Komi. I ate in Restaurant Eve's tasting room (Alexandria) for the first time last night and, though it was good, my two dining experiences at Komi were even better.

          1. Central? Proof?
            Of course you've not yet been to the most authentic high end DC experience of all...1789! I would suggest that!

            1. For the record, we went to Komi, and it was amazing. Absolutely on par with the finest places we've been, a foodie paradise, and I'm still thinking about the marscapone stuffed dates. I can't wait to see where Mike takes me in May! Thank you for all of your help.

              1. Took the wife to Restaurant Eve for birthday -- we enjoy the tasting menu experience in general. But felt like the smaller menu, five courses, was overpriced and not dazzling for the money or time involved. 350 with tip, and we each had 2 wines by the glass (did pay 25 extra for one foie) -- wife's choices were better than mine and we swapped plates -- poultry/tripe as only option for final course (squab/pheasant) wasn't particularly special -- not dazzling. the kitchen clearly has skills, but the servings were small, would have been appropriate to the nine course menu, but for five, the plate looked too big compared to miniscule portion, esp. the coin-sized piece of abalone -- stuck in my craw that each tiny course was about 20 bucks. a very very tiny bite of abalone...
                re service -- I am a big fan of Polyface farms and sustainable so and so and Michael Pollan's book Omnivores' Dil. but I'd had enough of the food descriptions by the end of the night. Much too much time between courses. 3 hours for five courses --
                waiter did make good wine recommendations.
                A large group in a closed off portion of the tasting room looked to be having a much better time and were definitely spending big with many bottles and quicker service -- (and the bistro looked much better for the same food) -- Overall, Eve feels like an expense-account place, not a foodie place or couple-date-night birthday place. I enjoy paying for nice meals and tasting menus esp. but I left feeling like I'd eaten at a place that caters to people for whom money is no object. there were good things -- pumpkin seed brittle petit fours, the desserts, but for 95+ a person the 5 course menu seemed way overpriced and the service slow and fussy.

                We went to Komi a few years ago, was cheaper (at the time) and overall a superior experience. Maestro, before it closed, kicked our butts. Might go back to Eve for bistro or to the chipper, but not the tasting room.

                wife joked to me that she'd take me to Central afterwards to have a good dinner.

                2 Replies
                1. re: jitlee

                  I walked away from Rest. Eve restaurant with very similar feelings...and we ate in the Bistro.

                  1. re: jitlee

                    Wow, I had such a similar experience there, and was so much looking forward to it. Really a disappointment. The food was good, the service really was not, and for that price a lot of it is about the overall experience which was just, I guess, amaterish. I had a feeling the bistro would be better, also. The cocktails before dinner were great.

                    I'd put Cashion's Eat Place on the list of places to try next. It made up for the Eve disappointment with super wonderful (truly enthusiastic rather than faked and nervous) service and great food.

                  2. Restaurants that I recommend that are not on your list as haveing been there:

                    Restaurant Eve

                    1. try Komi and Rstaurant Eve next.

                      1. Take a trip to the Inn at Little Washington. In town: The Source, Ristorante Tosca, Blue Duck Tavern & Komi.

                        1. I would suggest Central or West End Bistro in the Ritz Carlton. It is one of Eric Ripert new restaurants. He owns Le Bernadin one of the best French Seafood places in NYC.

                          1. Once a year I have a friend from Cleveland visit me and we have a spectacular meal - but I've never been to the places you listed. Last year we went to Myanmar and had a veritable feast:

                            Ginger Salad
                            Shrimp and Bean Sprout Salad

                            Tomato Tofu

                            Pork with Fresh mango
                            Mutton Curry

                            Whole Roasted Fish

                            A meal fit for a king.

                            1. Finally went out for my birthday dinner with Mike, and he chose the Chef's Table at Restaurant Eve. It was the one of the most perfect dining experiences we've ever had. It's not that the food was the best, or the decor was the best, or the service was the best - all were excellent, but not *the* best. It was that the combination of the all of the details were so perfectly balanced as to create a wonderful evening. Of course, I did not pay as it was my birthday, so I don't know how that factors in.

                              To my knowledge, he didn't read this chat, so his choosing Restaurant Eve was a fluke.

                              And now I can start thinking about next year.

                              Updated list: Oceanaire, Palena, Little Fountain Cafe, Cashions Eat Place, Equinox, 2941, Aquarelle, Obelisk, Maestro, MiniBar, Citronelle, and CitZen, Komi and Restaurant Eve.