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Coming back to DC...

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Hey, all -- I'll be visiting DC for an extended weekend this upcoming weekend after having moved away about 6-7 months ago. I'm trying to pick a place for dinner Saturday night. Old Town would be the preference, but can do DC in a pinch. Price point, moderate to moderately expensive (i.e., Tasting Room at Eve is out). I confess I haven't kept up with the DC food scene since I've been away, so I need your advice!

The one limitation is no Southern -- I moved to Charleston, SC, and we get good New Southern food, but that's about it down here. Looking for something I can't really get down here.

TIA for all your help!

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  1. I would suggest the Majestic, Vermillion, or the Bistro at Eve (all in Old Town, all good).

    1 Reply
    1. re: jaydreb

      The Majestic would be my recommendation as well. They do American classics really well...delicious food! Plus its a vibrant neighborhood atmosphere without being trendy. I would recommend making reservations though since it can get pretty crowded.

      A back up plan would be Hank's Oyster Bar, for great New England style seafood.

    2. I just went to Vermillion on a Saturday night. Many menu items could be ordered as entrees or appetizers, so we had 6 appetizers including clams and squid ink pasta, veal sweetbread, pan seared trout, scallops and pork belly, 4 cheese ravioli, and charcuterie platter. We also ordered a 5 brownie tasting for desert. With a bottle of wine ($30 or so), I think it was $150 with tip. Other restaurants that I would try but haven't been are: Farrah Olivia, Majestic, Bastille. I did go to Daniel O'Connell - go for a pint but not to eat.

      1. Evening Star is really good with a phonebook of a wine list, reasonable prices, but not in old town...

        1 Reply
        1. re: DCDOLL

          Oooo another good suggestion. I always forget about Evening Star (probably because I don't make it out to Old Town that often) but I had an excellent meal there once. They had a deliciouos risotto and a great pork chop if I remember correctly

        2. I had totally forgotten about Evening Star. A nice, casual place, and a good possibility.

          To jaydreb, Elyssa, and Ericandblueboy -- do you think Majestic's or Vermilion's menus have a Southern flair? I had thought of both of those, but that was a concern of mine.

          Thanks for all your help.

          2 Replies
          1. re: msbo78

            Certainly not with anything I tried at Vermillion. If anything, there's a leaning towards Italian cooking and the use of fresh pasta.

            1. re: msbo78

              I wouldn't say Majestic is Southern. They might have a slight southern influence but I view it more "Classic American Done Right!" For example they serve meatloaf but its grilled and delicious. They take classics and do them in a special, certainly non-boring way.

              There might be some Southern items on the menu but its not necassarily a Southern-influenced restaurant. You should also keep in mind that the restaurants is in VA, so that might be where some of the Southern style items come from.

              I can't speak for Vermillion since I've never been there.

            2. I would ditto Majestic, primarily because you haven't tried it since Chef Armstrong of Eve took it over and revitalized the menu. A month or so ago, I ate there and had the best liver and onions I've ever had.

              Also, Del Merei Grill on Mt. Vernon Ave. Great menu with a *slight* southern flair, but I recommend it for the riff on the Vienna Inn chili dog. I think it's only available at the bar, but the Chef's wife is the granddaughter of the Abraham family that opened the Vienna Inn about 50 years ago. They actually use the Vienna Inn's chili, but broil the hot dog instead of steaming it in beer. And they use a potato bun instead of the tired old white bread bun. Other than that, it's a tribute to the Vienna Inn.

              1. I think Majestic at least has a Southern flavor, what about Hank's Oyster Bar in Alexandria, it is seafood and good kind of casual, I think Elyssa's suggestion for that is good. Vermillion isn't Southern. If you wanted Del Ray instead of Old Town you could go low key and do Mexican at like Taqueria Poblano or Los Tios.

                In Old Town you could also get Middle Eastern at The Pita House?

                1. We're off to Vermilion on Saturday. Thank you, everyone, for all your input! I'll be sure to report back.

                  1. Had a very good meal at Vermilion on Saturday night (better than good, but not great). I got the $50 tasting menu (four courses). The highlight of the evening was the softshell crab appetizer. I've had softshells at a lot of places and this version was one of the best. They were perfectly fried -- crispy, light and not at all greasy. Served with a raw root vegetable crudo, and "green goddess" dressing. Ocean trout served on a "barley risi e bisi" (barley that was creamy like risotto with peas). Second favorite of the evening. Might've been the favorite, but I didn't realize how similar in taste ocean trout would be to salmon, and salmon's not one of my favorites. Third savory course was the worst of the lot. Lamb and merguez sausage skewer with a sauce/salsa with olives and feta. The lamb was perfectly done (my mom's was a little overdone), the sausage was dry and the feta olive topping was (not surprisingly) way too salty. To the point that it overwhelmed everything else on the plate. Dessert was supposed to be some sort of angel food cake, but I subbed in the brownie sampler. I'd say three out of the five brownies were really good. The other two were just "good" as brownies go.

                    The only real problem of the night was timing. The meal was paced pretty well until dessert. We waited a really long time. Long enough that they comped the desserts.

                    Despite the dessert snafu, everyone really enjoyed their food, so overall, the night was a success! Thanks, everyone.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: msbo78

                      I should have told you that the ocean trout looked and tasted a bit like salmon. It's pinkish color is from its diet, which must be similar to salmon's.