Date Night Dinner: Dino, Zola, or Marvin
Help me out Hounds!
A great girl is coming down to visit me this weekend from NYC. I'm debating where to take her for dinner Saturday night. She doesn't necessarily need the NYC vibe (Central, etc.) but I'd love to take her somewhere with great ambience and good food. I've been to Zola before, and to Marvin to drink, but never for dinner. Dino is the throw-in for the great wine list and neighborhood feel.
What is your take on these three, or do you have any other suggestions for a moderately priced meal?
Dino is a really good place for wine and snacks. However i have NOT been overly impressed with the dinner food there. I like the bar at Zola but again, had a less than stellar meal there. Do you like FRench food? If so i would recommend either Montmartre in Eastern market or Lavandou if you want to stay in the Cleveland Park area. There is another new place in CP, called Sabores, that i haven't tried yet but sounds intriguing with small AND large plates (spanish). Urbana in dupont also has a really nice atmosphere, decent wine BTG and good food. It's in the Hotel Palomar.
I've never been to Marvin before but went inside to check out the scene and thought it would be a great date spot (although someone who's dined their should comment on any noise issues. When I was there it was pretty loud but it was later in the night and there was an event going on upstairs). I hear the food is really food with a cool fusion of Belgium and Southern---probably can't even find that in NYC. :)
I also think Zola is a great date spot because its a very sexy restaurant---from the banquets, to the lighting, to the red walls. A very cool vibe with great food and service.
I would be happy with either. It might be dependent on where you can get a reservation, since Marvin is really hot these days.
If your date is the sort who will want to share food with you, and discuss every dish, then I'd choose Dino. The downside is that I wouldn't call Dino romantic in any way, But it's a great place for a real food lover who will appreciate the nice ingredients (fried artichokes were lovely).
Marvin has a very cool vibe, and some of the tables/booths along the wall would be conducive to quiet talking. The food is OK if you choose carefully. Earlier in the evening Marvin is not too noisy. Marvin would be a great choice for a start of an evening along U street.
I agree that Zola is the most "sexy," and the last time I was there the food was quite nice. It's an environment that is more constrained...so if your date likes a more polished environment, Zola could be the winner.
You might add Acadiana if your date likes Southern Food. I think the tables near the windows would be rather quiet. It's a nice room and the food is yummy (I'm a New Orleans transplant, if that helps).
You should consider Raskia if your date likes Indian - again - a lovely room, on the loud side. The food is excellent and the cocktails are great.
I haven't eaten at Poste lately, but that back room (what used to be the post office?) is appropriately dark, and as I recall, pretty quiet for conversation.
I had a bad experience at Notti Bianche which I've repeated a number of times on this site. Food issues aside, the tables (the row of 2 tops at least where we sat) were fairly close together. For example, one of the food issues was a fish dish that smelled like it was past its due and even the 2 women sitting next to us noticed the smell....that means the tables were clearly too close. Just my 2 cents.
I would not recommend Marvin for a date night... I was there this week and, while the food was good, the service was abysmal, and the noise-level, even during the week, was far too high to be able to converse easily. I agree Dino has a great wine list and I really enjoy the food, but it is not so "datey." Zola would be fun, and I'd second the rec for Proof. I also am in love with Cork, and also in that neighborhood, is Bar Pilar. Small plates, and they've really stepped up their game. Both feel very neighborhoodish. I would also not recommend Urbana.... It, too, was loud last I was there, and the food seemed overpriced for what it was... Though, I did enjoy the pizza!
out of those three, i would definitely go for Zola - i think i'm partial b/c i've had some great dates there? again, to echo some of the other comments, the food isn't stellar, but it's a nice mid-range place with good service and ambiance, and fun cocktails. if you're looking for other places in the area, Rasika and Cafe Atlantico are great options too (and i love the food at both).
Thanks for all the replies folks. I think I'm going to go with Zola, as the only moderate knock was that the food wasn't spectacular. The ambience seems right, and Rasika doesn't have any room tomorrow evening. However, those candles at Rasika sure do get the romance going.....
Thanks for the help!