S.O.S. I'm on a collision course with McCormick and Schmicks!
Chowhounders, come to my rescue!
In two weeks time my extended family will be getting together for a dinner up in Bethesda. My father and his wife are visiting from Faribault, MN. My aunt and uncle are visiting from Fairhope, AL. Their respective vacations here in DC will overlap for a couple days and everyone thought it would be great to get together for a nice dinner. I have lived in DC for almost two years with my wife and feel pretty wired in to the dining scene here...thanks to plenty of good recommendations from you all.
I spoke with my great uncle (a long-time DC resident) and he said that he's going to "book reservations" at McCormick and Schmick's up in Bethesda. He's been all over the world and has eaten fantastic food that most people can only dream of, so I was dumbfounded. My thoughts when he uttered the suggestion were: "Of all the places in Bethesda, why M&S?! Especially to out-of-town family who wouldn't mind a nice get together in the nation's capital..."
Where I need help:
How to politely suggest to my uncle a change of restaurants? What restaurants do you all recommend?
1.) It must be relatively affordable (forget Citronelle and its ilk); like $20-25/person with a drink or two
2.) Centrally located, either DC or Bethesda
3.) A non-chain restaurant that they can't find in Minnesota or Alabama
4.) Good atmosphere
Thoughts I have so far: Old Ebbitt's, Martin's Tavern, Buck's Fishing and Camping
Any suggestions? Thanks in advance!!
M&S is really better than those three places you mentioned; I would suggest Black's Bar & Kitchen or Blacksalt for seafood but the prices will breach $25, and definitely if that figure includes drinks.
Cafe Deluxe and Mon Ami Gabi (that is owned by a restaurant company from Chicago but is not a chain like M&S is a chain) in downtown Bethesda are good. So is Jaleo if tapas would work for the group.
Once you have figured out your restaurant, I would say " Thanks for getting a reservation for us, but I have not been hearing good things about M&S lately. Since this is such a great occasion for us all to get together, I want to make sure everyone has the best meal possible. I was thinking we could try (insert resturaunt name here) cause I have just heard wonderful things about it/I have been there and it is wonderful. If it is alright with you, I'd like to make a reservation for us there instead."
And if you know that the restaurant cooks a meal particularly well that he would like, you can drop that during the conversation. "Their mussels are so wonderful, I can't have you come to DC and not try them."
I don't think that any of the places that you listed fit the $20 - $25/person with drinks criteria. With drinks ranging from $7 - $14 (wine vs. cocktail) that doesn't leave much room for food. Or is that the point? ; )
Let us know if the budget is reflected correctly in your original post, as it will help in coming up with appropriate recs.
i don't know how familiar your out-of-towners are with d.c., but my family visiting ALWAYS wants to go to Old Ebbitt, if for drinks only. i think it is quintessential d.c., and there is good atmosphere. however, It's been SO long since i've eaten there, so i can't speak to food quality. Timing there is an issue, as the crowds at bar rush hour are amazing.
What night will it be?
My first choice for seafood in Bethesda would be Blacks Bar and Kitchen, but it might be over your budget. FYI- I have been to the Bethesda McCormick and Schmick for a few business dinners and for a 50th anniversary party and they handle large groups really well and the fish has always been good. Old Ebbit is part of the Clydes chain (they have a Clydes in Chevy Chase and one in Rockville- called Tower Oaks Lodge ), Martins isn't awfull , and Buck's probably can't handle the crowd.