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Birthday dinner for 4, $50/pp or less?

My parents are coming into town and want to take my husband and me out for dinner for my birthday. I'd like to keep the cost around $50 or less per person (before wine, tax, tip, etc.), but here's the caveat: My parents are supremely picky eaters.

My mom won't eat anything fried or in sauce. She also doesn't like steak, and none of us eat pork. She does like seafood - salmon, tuna, shrimp, etc., and chicken. My father is one of those meat and potatoes types - his idea of the perfect meal is steak frites. I know they're fans of Ruth's Chris, but my husband and I don't eat meat (we do eat poultry and seafood).

BAH! Any ideas? So far, all I've come up with is Kinkead's and Dino. But there aren't any prices on the Kinkead's website, so I have no idea what their prices are. I've never been to either restaurant, and that makes me nervous. All of our favorite restaurants would be total busts with my parents (Obelisk, Central, Tabard Inn, etc.).

Help! What do you think of Kinkead's or Dino (it's a Friday night dinner, so unfortunately we'd miss-out on Dino's great dinner deals)? I'm totally open to other suggestions, too. It can be anywhere in the DC Metro area, too, no restrictions there.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Dino is a good idea.

    Another place to consider would be Bistro D'Oc. Your dad can get wonderful steak frites. The have a tuna or salmon in crepe dish usually on the menu along with a lot of other wonderful French bistro dishes. It's a charming environment and within your price range.

    While your dad might have a hard time finding steak (although I hear there is always one steak dish on the menu), Hook might be good since you are all into seafood. Their preperations are delicious and quite simple, so your Mom won't feel overwhelmed.

    Finally you might consider Butterfield 9. They have a delicious, eclectic menu (you can check it out online). There are usually meat, poultry, and seafood dishes (I've had nice salmon and scallop dishes).

    4 Replies
    1. re: Elyssa

      Thank you so much for your suggestions!

      My mom doesn't like French food (!!!), so I think she'd be a bit overwhelmed by the menu at Bistro D'Oc.

      Hook looks great! I looked at their menu on washingtondc.menupages and it looks delicious. My dad will eat salmon or chicken if there isn't a beef option, so that shouldn't be a problem. He's just a bit of a picky eater. :) This goes on my short list.

      A friend and fellow chowhounder suggested Blue Duck Tavern, and their menu looks great - lots of options, and the location is perfect.

      I gave-in to the pressure and called my mom and I think Tabard Inn would work (my dad would eat the salmon or get a few appetizers as a meal), but I'm still worried.

      It's amazing how parents can do this to you!

      1. re: MPJ

        Tabard should work! It has a nice cozy atmosphere and there are usually choices in chicken, steak fish...I second Butterfield 9, also. You could do 701 in your price range, also.

        1. re: MPJ

          Blue Duck Tavern is actually a very good idea, although it might be reach the higher end of $50/pp without tax, tip, and wine. Their meats are excellent and I love their sides.

          1. re: MPJ

            "It's amazing how parents can do this to you!"

            it becomes less so (amazing - it doesn't change) as time goes by.

            despite your French caveat, D'Oc is pretty straight forward, as are Belga and Les Halles and one can always get any included sauce on the side. My parents are of similar tastes and were (well seemed, who knows) happy.

            to address your down thread 1789 corkage question, that does sound surprising, but nothing beats calling the manager and asking directly.

        2. If they really like Ruth Chris, you might consider going there anyway -- i rarely eat red meat myself and so when we go there i order fish or chicken or they have a really good grilled portobello. They have decent offerings for non-steak eaters to sum it up. And if you know they like it, that might be a good solution rather than continuing to worry. But you probalby won't be able to keep it at $50 pp or less for those who order steak. However, if they go there alot they know the prices anyway.
          Since you mentioned Dino i assume everyone likes Italian? Have you been to Anna Maria's in dupont? it's good old fashioned red sauce italian in a sort of kitchy-cool retro dining room. You even get salad or soup w/ your entree. Wine list is ok, nothing spectacular but perfectly acceptable. And the prices are very reasonable. Service good. I think the food is way better than Dino and it's 'true italian' that everyone thinks of when they think of that cuisine.
          I'm sure the Tabard would be fine but just mentioned the above because it sounds like you may still have doubts. All in all, though, i'm sure your parents just want to spend time w/ you guys and will appreciate your efforts!
          (one other suggestion: Do you think they'd like 1789? we took my parents there and they FLIPPED...and the menu is varied - seafood, beef, chicken, even veg and the experience is pure DC. And contrary to what people think it is no more expensive than any other nice DC restaurant, and probably less that R.C. Jackets required though)

          2 Replies
          1. re: DCDOLL

            Thank you DCDOLL and dcandhohio!

            I don't want to do Ruth's Chris because they go there often, and well...I'm not a big fan...and even though I want them to be happy and enjoy the food, it's my birthday, and well...I don't wanna! haha

            1789 is brilliant. I hadn't really thought of it - but our summer meal there (that $39 summer special is so awesome) was really good, and all 4 of our party had something different - meat, fish, poultry, etc.

            So to be safe, I'm sending my mom the menus from Blue Duck Tavern, Tabard Inn, Hook, and 1789. Then she can tell me which one she's most excited about. I always like to see the menu for a new restaurant before I go, so I think this will be nice for her to be able to veto anything she's really not into. Then the pressure's off.

            Thank you guys again!

            1. re: MPJ

              You're welcome...and one more plug for 1789 which is huge IMO...FREE valet parking! :)

          2. Thought I'd throw in something a little different...what about Firefly? The tables for 4 are much more roomy than the 2 seaters against the wall, so you won't be all smushed together. There is something for everyone on the menu - I had the mini pot roast and mashed potatoes and it was sublime, sure to please a steak and potatoes type. Also, you'll be able to get out for under 50pp easily, with some of the other suggestions here it will be cutting it much more close. Just thought I'd say something different :-)

            1 Reply
            1. re: MDoodle

              Mmmm...Firefly! Funny enough, Firefly was the very first restaurant my husband and I ever went to in DC. We had a great meal - great ambiance there. I will definitely keep that in mind - as I'm still not 100% on which restaurant to choose.

              Does anyone know what the corkage fee is at Tabard Inn? Yelp.com says there's no corkage fee - I find that hard to believe. If that's the case, it's Tabard all the way as my parents can bring in some much loved local Santa Barbara wine!

              That will definitely be our deciding factor.

              Thanks for being patient with me, guys - I just want the PERFECT din-din for my lovely parental units.

            2. DC Coast? They usually have a few non-scary options for the meat/potato types

              1. What about the front room at Palena?

                1 Reply
                1. re: Jeserf

                  hill food - Thank you for the recs!

                  I called the manager at Tabard and the corkage there is $15 a bottle. I ran the menu by my parents and they both expressed interest in a few dishes, so we're on for Tabard!

                  It may not be as exciting (we've been there numerous times) as I'd like for my b-day din-din, but everyone will enjoy themselves and hopefully that fantastic mint chip ice cream is still on the dessert menu. :)

                  Thank you EVERYONE for your suggestions! I've definitely got a few more restaurants on my list after researching your suggestions, so I'm sure we'll be visiting Hook, Blue Duck, and a few others soon.