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make my date ... Locanda or Sonoma?

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Partner and I are the date-starved parents of a todder. Finally (!!) we have some babysitting on Friday and are determined to go out in Capitol Hill area.

Many on this Board say "I have heard Sonoma is good" and "I have heard Locanda is good," but I need more deets -- preferably of the non-hearsay variety -- before committing.

Our parameters:
1. Partner eats fish but no meat.
2. Bonus points awarded for an excellent martini.
3. Price not terribly important (capitol grille is too much though)

Thoughts? Other Capitol Hill suggestions?

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  1. can't comment on Sonoma, but was at Locanda last Fall and was impressed by the hospitality - Wed. not quite primetime without reservations and while it was jumping were nicely accommodated. bit noisy, but very welcoming and good food. but def. call for reservations at either. we have so few options in this hood the ones we do get busy.

    Old Siam has great Thai (duh) a block or 2 away if they are swamped. and Montmartre is great, but def. req. a reservation.

    2 Replies
    1. re: hill food

      Old Siam also has a really great look and feel if you are looking for a romantic place that may or not be able to guarantee you some privacy at one of their tables.

      Funnily, I would do Old Siam for a romantic night out before Sonoma or Locanda.

      But, I would do Locanda before Sonoma, if only for their lamb burger.

      1. re: hill food

        Sonoma has a great atmosphere, food is good. It was restaurant week when we went so it was crowded. I imagine that loud is fairly normal in there on a Friday night. Maybe no worse than the house of a toddler. Overall, a good place for a date night.

        I haven't been to Locanda, but I hear it's good :)

        There's always Charlie Palmer's.

        As for Montmartre, I don't normally think of French cooking as vegetarian friendly - even if you eat fish...but otherwise it's a nice date place on the hill.

        I wouldn't settle for Old Siam on this occasion, since it's also a pretty heavy take-out restaurant, you could get that food any time.

      2. I've been to Locanda a few times since it opened. Most recently was Monday evening. I believe there are two fish options on the menu and two meat. The lamb steak is very tasty. There are plenty of great pastas as well but if you go that route you must have the ravioli. They change daily and are house made. Monday it was a portobello mushroom ravioli with a truffled butter sauce and crumbled pancetta. Very tasty. This is clearly Locanda's strong suit.

        I think that Sonoma has a more diverse menu and (as it is a wine bar) a better wine selection. The food is good and the atmosphere, IMO, is probably more date conducive.

        I am a big fan of Montmatre, which I see a lot of people have recommended. The food is great, and the it has an open kitchen that is great to watch as you are waiting for your food. Last time I went they had a braised rabbit dish that was incredible. Also good is their cassoulet (usually a special). Again, it is probably more date conducive than Locanda. In terms of drinks, their wine selection is fine, but their bar is probably the weakest of the three.

        I think that all three places are excellent choices. It really comes down to what type of food you are in the mood for. I would recommend making at reservation, wherever you decide to go.

        2 Replies
        1. re: caphil07

          Thanks everyone - this is just the detail I was hoping for. We just moved to Capitol HIll so I know we will try all these places eventually -- at our one-dinner-out-per-blue moon pace -- and report back.

          JustinS, I totally agree about French bistro food ... it's great but if you don't eat meat, there's not much to pick from GF would prably be happier at Charlie Palmer's than Montmartre. We'll probly try Sonoma this time, then Locanda, then Siam.

          1. re: fieryredhead

            Montmartre usu. has a decent selection of fish entrees, but then being French even the green salad usu. has lardons...

            welcome to the Hill!

            be glad you didn't move here 7-8 years ago when pickin's were few.

        2. I like Sonoma. Good wine, great cheeses, they have vegetarian options... Not too sure on Martinis because its a wine bar. I got a white pizza with new potatoes on it when I was there, it was super, and you get to pick the cheese on it, I got fontina. And great dessert. Make a reservation and go a little after happy hour for a good atmosphere. Also, I hear the upstairs lounge is the best part, but I haven't been up there.

          On a different note, now that you're on Capitol Hill, make sure to try the red velvet cake at Levi's Port Cafe on 8th Street SE. Not a fancy place at all, but kiddies are welcome there.