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Any suggestions for a good D.C./Bmore restaurant for meal and wine pairing?

In a few months, for my birthday my parents agreed to take me out to a nice place in d.c. or Baltimore. Since this will be my 21st, I thought it would be a good idea to pick a place and do a multi course tasting menu with wine pairings. Any suggestions?

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  1. My favorite for this in B'more is Charleston. Create your own tasting menu based on many menu categories (e.g. Hot, Cold, Seafood, etc.) and have the staff pair half-pours of wine to complement and compliment each course. Not cheap but a memorable experience.

    1. Proof would be great because you can do samplings and wine flights which would be a lot of fun. Plus they have a champagne cart!! (Make sure to get the gnocchi to eat.) I'm not sure if they have a tasting menu but I'm sure you can create your own with multi-courses or call ahead to see if they can create something for you.

      Other places to check out (w/ tasting menus and good wine): Equinox, Restaurant Eve, and Palena.

        1. I think Cityzen also has a tasting menu with wine pairings.

          If you want something a little less expensive (if not quite as good), Grapeseed in Bethesda has a recommended wine (by the glass) for every dish.

          1. Thanks for all the suggestions so far. One thing I should say, is that I probably need to keep it relatively near $100-$130 a person. I think I've seen some of these places (for tastings and wine pairings) near $200, which is a bit too high. Also, it would likely be a big party (6 or so with my parents and brothers), so how far ahead would we need to make a reservation (my bithday isn't until october, but I don't know how far ahead we'll all know our schedules.)

            2 Replies
            1. re: adamt2005

              You might want to look at Corduroy or PS7's. Corduroy has a neat wine list that is not overly priced for what's on it, and PS7s has some fun stuff on the menu. I bet Dino would be a good option for Italian. We are also fans of Brewer's Art in Baltimore. Or split the difference with Iron Bridge in Columbia.

              Try calling various restaurants and explain to them it’s a special occasion and what your price range is to see what they can create. And make rezzies as soon as you can to book a larger table.

              1. re: adamt2005

                Proof or Grapeseed would definitely meet your $ criteria. Both have valet parking and are close (or not too far) from metro stops.

              2. Baltimore places: Abacrombie and Chinghale. I've had amazing tasting menus there, and wouldn't hesitate to go there again.

                Happy 21st! Either one of these places would be an opportunity to celebrate in style.

                1. Again, everyone, these really are great suggestions. First of all, i realized I probably am leaning towards a place in the D.C. area (I'll be in college park, and I'd rather take the metro home after a night of wine than drive).

                  This doesn't mean Bmore is outta the question- I can probably get my brother to DD if I have to. That aside, here are my thoughts (after perusing the menus, prices, and thinking things through):

                  1)Cityzen- Boy, does this place look good. I'd be going for the 6-course tasting menu w/ wine, and the food on the website sounds right down my alley. I'm an adventurous eater and this looks really interesting (cuttlefish ratatouille, potato agnolotti with sea urchin) and delicious (asparagus and lobster hash with poached egg!). Unfortunately, its a bit out of my price range ($180!). Maybe if I can just get my parents to love me more...
                  2)Charleston- this looks equally delicious, and growing up near Baltimore I've consistently heard that this is the city's best restaurant. I'd be going for the 6-course "The Season" menu for wine pairing for $134- which is stretching my price range but not by much. Unfortunately, as I said earlier, I'm leaning against driving to Bmore.
                  3)Proof- This place also has a 6-course tasting menu with wine @ $135, again almost withing my price range. This may be a dumb question, but I know these tasting menu's require everyone at the table to participate (usually), but that doesn't mean everyone has to get the wine pairings too, right?
                  4)Equinox- this one is a little less expensive, at $120 for 6 course pairing +wine. Also, this menu allows some choices for the 6 courses, at least I think. All the food sounds great, but if I would have one complaint, its that the proteins all seem a bit mundane, nothing too exciting, besides foie gras (e,g, salmon, rockfish, crabcake, lamb).
                  5) Palena- I've hear good things about Palena in the past, and their menu really makes my mouth water, and fits my criteria of "differentness" (venison pate en croute, pheasant consomme, pancetta-wrapped sturgeon). The 5-course menu is $76, but there's nothing on the menu about wine pairings! Have I made it obvious yet that I know nothing about wine and want people to choose for me?
                  6) Minibar- now this looks like a fun place to eat. But, again, out of my price range- $120 w.out wine, probably at least $50 more with. And I hear its hard to get reservations for, plus this place may not be my parents cup of tea.
                  7)Komi- website doesn't tell me much, but I've also read great things about this place. Any idea about price? I've also heard this is a hard place to get reservations to...
                  8) Grapeseed- This seems like a great place, especially for the wine. I love how they have suggested wines for every dish (and prices for full and half pours). No tasting menu, so my only issue would be choosing what/how much to order. This is where the server can help, but that can be hit or miss. Food looks great, though a bit standard.
                  9) Corduroy- AHH no wine suggestions or tasting menus on the website. This is where calling ahead and figuring this stuff out may help. Otherwise, looks like a good variety of dishes, and a slightly Asian influence, which my family would like.
                  10) PS7- I also see no wine pairings/tasting menu. But, the prices are great (no entree over $30) and the food looks good.
                  11) CInghiale- this place is in Bmore, so unfortunately may not be an option. It is very reasonable ($70 for 3 courses and wine), but I don't know if I wanna go the Italian route.
                  12) Abacrombie- this place has a website, but no menu or prices, which makes no sense.

                  So, after all this (probably poor) menu/price analysis, you might be able to let me know which of these places sounds best? Or suggest something else? Thanks!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: adamt2005

                    One thing to keep in mind is that tax and tip can add 25% or more to the price of dinner, so you need to know if you are planning to spend $100 including tax and tip, or not (a $135 tasting menu at Proof will end up costing you something close to $175).

                    Not every tasting menu requires all parties at the table to partake, and I'm not sure any of them would expect everyone to go with the wine pairings (they are serving the wine by the glass anyway).

                    Komi is really good, but I don't think they take parties of more than 4, and it's probably out of your price range (maybe $150 pp?).

                    I would call Palena-- I've heard they do nice pairings, but I haven't been yet myself. That might be your best option.

                    Don't forget that any of these restaurants should help you pick a wine that will go well with your meal, so at some point you might want to weigh whether to go with the restaurant that seems most appealing, or the multi-course pairings concept (which is an interesting one for a 21st birthday).

                    1. re: Doh

                      After reading your comments, it seems like you want somewhere that is reasonably priced, can accommodate a group, do a progressive/tasting dinner paired with wines where the food isn't overly adventurous. I second the recommendations for Dino or Palena. You might also consider Obelisk or 2941 (in Falls Church, VA). Stop relying on websites and give the restaurants a call during off-peak hours and talk them what you are looking for. My bet is that with sufficient notice most restaurants suggested would be able to accommodate your needs and create a really great party to celebrate your burgeoning enophilia.

                  2. I'm shocked at the universal plaudits about Komi. I had a uneven meal threre Friday. The best suckling pig I've eaten and a spaghetti with sea urchin I've been thinking about every since. But the place is like some precious cook's playpen, one badly-conceived little dish after another—such as beautiful scallops rimmed with, and ruined by, curried mayo, foie gras enclosed in a stale brioche which overwhelmed the goose liver, and caesar salad dressing enclosed in a closed pastry, to be eaten in one bite—ugh. $300 (with 2 glasses of wine, and tip) for the tasting menu; if you didn't have it, you were forced to have the same pasta and the same entrée. I'd pass on the place entirely until they get their act together.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jolivore

                      I really liked not only our main (the katsikaki), but also almost all of the little dishes-- but I didn't have most of the ones you list (our scallops were outstanding, but I can't remember how they were done). On the other hand, I didn't care for the date stuffed with marscapone but I've heard others say they think it's wonderful (so chacun...).

                      It is crazy expensive but I really enjoyed eating there.