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Birthday Dinner Ideas?

w
WSJ May 17, 2008 08:54 PM

My birthday is next Friday (the 30th) and I would like to go out and celebrate with my friends. I've been searching high and low for restaurant ideas but can't seem to think of anything good. The issue is my friends and I are college students. I would like to go some place nice. I'm mostly considering DC, specifically Georgetown. As a native I know the Georgetown options are a bit slim. Despite knowing better, I was heavily considering Sequoia because of its view and hearing their private rooms are better than the general restaurant. I've only been once, four years ago on a Sunday afternoon and was pleased with my experience.

Cuisine-wise I'm not sure of what I want (because I have others with me). But we all eat meat, one friend doesn't eat seafood.

Cost seems to be the biggest issue. Typically when we do such things, my friends like to go out to chains like Magiano's, PF Changs, Cheesecake Factory and Coastal Flats. In making my selection I'm considering them and what they may or may not be able to afford. I would like to do 1789, I can pay $38 for their rack of lamb no problem, but I don't know about my friends, I guess 3x Per Person is the max.

Atmosphere is important too, I'll be coming from work so I guess I'd like a place where a guy in Brooks Brothers would be comfortable with a guy wearing a dress shirt and jeans (for my male friends). I'm planning for a minimum of seven people (including me) but would like to get a room if possible.

In case you're wondering why Georgetown, a female friend of mine happens to like it a lot and thought it would be nice to walk around after our meal, especially the waterfront.

Thank you.
Sorry if its a bit long my first post.

  1. w
    WSJ May 17, 2008 09:00 PM

    Oh I should add, most of us live in Virginia so if you have any good suggestions for Northern Virginia I'm open to those as well.

    3 Replies
    1. re: WSJ
      s
      slwh May 18, 2008 05:58 AM

      Tricky... an affordable private room in G-town. Plus, you're in somewhat of an awkward position choosing the locale of your own b-day dinner (because I'm sure your friends will want to cover your share as well) while considering their financial constraints. What about keeping it low-key and doing something like Harry's Tap Room in Clarendon? I believe that they have private rooms and they also have (or at least had at one point) a semi-private area with one large table that might work nicely. It's not G-town, but you could still walk around after dinner, hit a few bars, etc.

      I don't think 1789 would be the right atmosphere for you... when we went we were the youngest people in there and I'm in my 30's.

      1. re: slwh
        i
        Indy 67 May 18, 2008 07:15 AM

        1789 definitely attracts an older crowd than college age, but perhaps less so for its Pre-Theater special. If you're willing to eat before 6:45 p.m. you'll be able to eat a fabulous three-course meal for $35 per person. If you eat in one of the restaurant's public rooms, you might want to know that the Manassas Room with its Civil War era posters/prints is the least formal. Of course, since you're hoping for a private room, what do you care about the age of the other patrons?!?

        Finally, check out the dates of Georgetown U's graduation events. While I doubt the actual graduation will take place on a Friday evening, the restaurant gets booked up with families in town for all the graduation festivities.

        1. re: Indy 67
          e
          Elyssa May 19, 2008 06:59 AM

          Also know if you go to 1789, I believe all the gentlemen will have to wear a jacket.

    2. h
      HilkaryIC May 18, 2008 07:07 AM

      Not in G-town, but Oya is all about atmosphere. Plus They have the $30- 3 course menu, making it a bit more affordable. In G-town, you can get a private space at Mie N Yu.

      2 Replies
      1. re: HilkaryIC
        w
        WSJ May 18, 2008 10:33 AM

        I appreciate all the ideas, I was wondering if people left out Hook because of its cost or because it's seafood? Getting a room isn't a must but would be nice.
        I'm familiar with the Clarendon area and am not too fond of it. What about Circle Bistro?

        Sorry if I seem a bit picky...

        1. re: WSJ
          e
          Elyssa May 19, 2008 07:02 AM

          Hook is incredible, but cost might be an issue. So will be trying to get a private room for just 7 people.

          I think Oya is a nice idea. Bistro Francais has a early and late bird special if you like french cuisine.

          If you are willing to head into Dupont/West End area maybe you should look into Hudson, Sette Osteria or Firefly. You can easily walk to Georgetown afterward and grab a drink somewhere....even on the waterfront.

      2. j
        Jacey May 18, 2008 10:59 AM

        How about going to Old Town. That way you can be near the water and then go to some bars (if you're hitting the 2-1) afterwards. There's a Mai Thai right near the water on King's St, which has good, and a little nicer than your average Thai joint.

        Other options would be the new pan-Asian restaurant in Chinatown Asia Nine. They have Japanese, Thai and I believe Chinese fusion there too, plus it's a pretty nice atmosphere.

        Leopold's in Gtown in Cady Alley would be a nice option if it's nice outside. It's hidden and has a great patio/funky inside decor. They also have great desserts, but make sure you check out the menu beforehand to see if there's food you like on it.

        In Georgetown, there's nothing wrong with having a birthday party at places like Clyde's, J. Paul's or Paolo's. There's also Bangkok Joe's near the Waterfront.

        Places in Dupont you might like are Loreal Plaza, Rosemary Thyme's, Levante's and Thai Chef.
        On U St. Tabaq Bistro might be a good option on their rooftop or Marvin's.

        1. ktmoomau May 19, 2008 08:17 AM

          Good luck getting a private room that they don't charge you for it or ask for a minimum higher than what you have planned for a big night like that, especially in Georgetown.

          You seem to want something more formal, but not with the huge pricepoint, if you wanted to do the whole walk around thing I see why you might not prefer Clarendon, although Sette Bello or Tallula would be really nice and might be closer to your price point.

          What about Agraria? Their food, isn't the best in Washington, but it is good, I haven't been in a while now, but it has a great location, while the food is much better than most served at Harbor Place and you could walk around G-town or the waterfront after. And then you could have a range of price points for food, and people could choose what they want to spend.

          Circle Bistro is good, but I am not sure it would be under the price you want to spend, and Hook while excellent the servings are such that most people would want starter plus entree or at least entree plus dessert at minimum and it can start to add up, I think it is just meant to be eaten as multiple courses.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ktmoomau
            b
            bylinemjf May 19, 2008 02:03 PM

            I'm with ktmoomau - I really don't think a private room is feasible given your financial and #s constraints (they're just not going to give 7 people a whole room, period). I also think Sette Bello and Tallula kind of fit your theme of stylish, fun, attention to food, but not too pricey. I had a great birthday dinner for 10-12 at Sette Bello - we practically felt like we had a room b/c they gave us a great big table in back b/c it was less crowded, and the price is very affordable. It seems a bit harsh just to write off the whole area of Clarendon, but hey, it's your bday. Tallula is on a side street so it is not part of the hustle of Clarendon proper.

            Mendocino Grille is a small restaurant so you could feel intimate in that sense. I'm not sure if it's too pricey for your group. But it's classy, Georgetown, and has an emphasis on local ingredients. Tallula and Sette are more casual than this.

          2. w
            WSJ May 19, 2008 04:04 PM

            Well seven was the absolute minimum I'll probably have more coming, but I guess I'll forget the whole room idea. I appreciate all the input provided.
            Chinatown is an area that I'm considering as well. How far (walking distance) is Georgetown from Dupont? I don't have anything against Clarendon, it's just a little out of the way for most of us.

            1 Reply
            1. re: WSJ
              e
              Elyssa May 19, 2008 04:29 PM

              Depending on where you are coming from Dupont and where you are going in Georgetown it can be 15-20 minutes or so. I do the walk on a regular basis and on a nice night its not a problem.

              In Chinatown area you should check out Oya or Jaleo. Cafe Atlantico could fit the bill but only depending on how much folks are planning to drink. I just held my bf's birthday there and we had an awesome time. Request to be seated at the top floor (which practically feels like a private room). The only problem was we decided to just split the bill by 10 and we ended up drinking more then I thought we would and that added up quick. But if folks are dividing the check by what they order, this could be perfect. You can share some of their great apps and order your own entrees. Also if you want to go earlier they have a pre-theater menu (same with 701).

            2. w
              WSJ May 27, 2008 07:30 PM

              I appreciate the help, I asked two of my lady friends and we decided on Oya.

              My father is probably going to want to take me out for a lunch as well and would like suggestions for that. I'm tired of our typical options and would like to explore someplace new, preferably in Northern Virginia. I like Carlyle in Shirlington especially their banana pudding but realize it's the same thing as Coastal Flats and is a little far.

              Also I'll be heading to a graduation at Johns Hopkins this weekend and even though the graduate will probably make the selection, if I'm asked for input whats a nice lunch place in that part of Baltimore?

              1 Reply
              1. re: WSJ
                ktmoomau May 28, 2008 05:31 AM

                If you could do birthday lunch at 2941 you would really enjoy that, but if Shirlington is far it might be too far. Or Restaurant Eve in Old Town. I don't know if Majestic does lunch I kind of doubt it, but that would be good.

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