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Nov 14, 2008 12:45 PM

McClean, VA - Nice Restaurant

Looking for a nice restaurant to take a client.

Reservations will be at 5:30pm, but can certainly do cocktails beforehand if the joint has a bar. Price Range: $35 and under would be prefereable.

These folks look to me as one who knows food, so I'd really like to impress them with the cuisine, but still have it accessible for all kinds of folks (meaning, no foam and other oddities).



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  1. Woo Lae Oak in Tysons has upscale Korean and would come in right under your price point (depending how you order). Some of the dishes might be outside the comfort zone of a non-adverturous eater, but there are crowd pleasers too. The steak they grill at the table is hard to beat and would be very accessible to even someone with a limited palate.

    7 Replies
      1. re: Brian_Adams

        Woo Lae Oak at Tysons isn't very good. Korean BBQ is fun but you'll end up smelling like grilled meats afterwards.

        Tachibana is excellent for sushi and other Japanese food.

        All the restaurants mentioned by Indy are good. Nothing is truly excellent in McLean (other than Tachibana), unless you include the chain steakhouses in Tysons.

        1. re: Ericandblueboy

          ericandblueboy, oceanm and capri aren't "excellent" but just "good"? they ain't cheap, but that's no guarantee of anything....

          btw, eric and indy, how is that seafood resto (something "grotto"?) there -- somewhere close to tyson's galleria? (not mccormick and schmick's)

          1. re: alkapal

            I think both Capri and Ocean M are better than merely "good" but they're not excellent.

            For Italian comparisons, consider the following... I haven't eaten in Obelisk in a long time (to be remedied quite soon), but we travel to Italy regularly. Capri's cuisine isn't as polished as Tosca. However, I've had enough really lovely food there that I wouldn't hesitate to take a business client there -- the original question -- or spend my own dollars if the goal is to stay in McLean.

            If you want a gentler-price introduction to the place, you can't go wrong with a starter of a salad plus a pasta dish. I've had particularly good experiences with the round seafood ravioli, the papardelle with veal ragu, and the rigatoni with veal ragu, eggplant and mozzarella. I tend not to eat creamy preparations so my omission of those dishes shouldn't be interpreted as a criticism. I like the simple whole grilled fish better than the more elaborate fish preparations, but every once in a while, I get a yen for Capri's fish preparation with tomatoes, capers, and olives. (I usually ask for that to be prepared with swordfish rather than the menu-listed salmon.) Also, I like the fish choices at Capri. It's is one of the few places that imports Dorada and Branzini (Note: Orata, Dorata, are other spellings and the menu lists still another spelling "Aurata".) My husband usually orders a meat dish from among the daily specials. I find these to be over-embellished, but he is usually happy. Under no circumstances waste your money ordering one of the fancy desserts. Pour me a glass of chilled limoncello and I'm happy.

            Ocean M's cooking style is old-fashioned by which I mean it leans to sauces enriched with cream. They're flawlessly executed using excellent quality ingredients. However, I don't eat that way other than the occasional dish in a tasting menu. Before settling, on a bouillabaisse-only approach to Ocean M, I once ordered the crab cakes "La Colline." While I was impressed with the quality of the crab cake and the lobster sauce was luxurious, I ultimately was turned off by the richness of the dish. I decided that the wonderful crab cake didn't need such rich embellishment.

            I haven't tried Monterey Seafood Grotto so I can't offer a comment.

            1. re: Indy 67

              thanks for the great detailed info!

            2. re: alkapal

              I've been to Monterey Bay Fish Grotto twice. The entryway smelled very fishy, for no apparent reason. It's like you stepped into a seafood market. The varieties of fish served also makes my head spin a little, some times more is not necessary better. That said, my entrees there were excellent. I had Black Cod once and Chilean Seabass the other time. Free valet parking too!

              As for Capri and Ocean M, they're probably 2.5 stars out of 4 in my opinion. Tachibana might get a 3 star. Unfortunately, McLean is not known for great food so no one ever raves about these neighborhood restaurants.

            3. re: Ericandblueboy


              I would agree that Woo Lae Oak isn't the best Korean in the area (you'd have to go to Annandale for that). But I wouldn't go so far as to say it isn't good. Its probably better than 99% of Korean restaurants in the country, but it just so happens that many of those top 1% are also in this market, so Woo Lea Oak suffers in the comparison. Westernized? Sure. But I've found it to be reliably good, particularly as an introduction to Korean cuisine.

              As far as smelling like grilled meats, this could be a concern. I've never found the smell to be particularly strong, but if there are sensitive diners and this would be a big problem then its probably best to go elsewhere.

        2. I can't determine from your information whether the $35 is for the entree, the entire meal, the entire meal including tax and tip. Big swing there! At any rate, here are some possibilities in McLean proper. (note correct spelling)

          Le Mistral: authentic French food including one of the best versions of gratineed onion soup you'll ever taste; excellent service; look at the web site to see if you can make your budget since the entrees already hover in the high 20s and low 30s.

          Capri Restaurant: Italian seafood restaurant; best dishes: special recs: all the pastas and the grilled whole fish (which is boned before being brought to the table) less expensive than Le Mistral but, again, check the web site regarding budget

          Ocean M restaurant is brought to you by the same folks -- chef and maitre d' -- as the folks who ran Le Bagatelle and La Colline; many of the recipes served here will be familiar folks who patronized those old-school French restaurants; stellar bouillabaisse -- equal to or better than versions I've eaten in Provence; entree price point in the mid- to high 20s with a few specialty dishes like Dover sole hoving near $40; however, there is a $30 three-course prix fixe menu

          If you can extend your radius a bit, you could check out the following recent thread since it includes lots of moderately-priced options. I don't think all of these qualify as destinations to take a client, but my recs are probably pushing your budget:

          2 Replies
          1. re: Indy 67

            oh, indy 67, thank you for the great info. i've wondered about the capri when i was getting over to the giant on redmond. i love zuppa de pesce, so i will have to try this place very, very soon! grazie.

            and i love bouillabaisse, as well. so ocean m is now on my radar screen. merci beaucoup.

            1. re: Indy 67

              Thanks, Indy. $35 was for the entree. Thanks for the great tips and for taking the time to reply so thoroughly. I can always count on Chowhound for great tips.

            2. The original comment has been removed
              1. I would recommend Monterey Bay Fish Grotto. Excellent seafood dishes and great service.

                1. In addition to Indy's recs, I'd add J. Gilbert's. Terrific ambiance and excellent steak and seafood without the traditional steak house prices (b/c sides are included).

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Meg

                    Yikes! I strongly disagree on the ambiance at J. Gilbert' on the basis of the restaurant layout and the resulting impact on non-smokers.

                    The hostess' station is in the foyer just inside the main entrance. To the right is the bar. J. Gilbert's is one of the few restaurants in the area that allows cigars. As a result, the entire foyer reeks not merely of cigarette smoke, but of cigar smoke. In fact, the smell and haze of cigarette smoke extends well into the dining area. As a result, I couldn't care less whether the dark wood paneling, working fireplace, and sleek style create a visually pleasing look. I'm totally turned off by the reek and haze of the cigars and cigarettes.

                    1. re: Indy 67

                      I agree. I forgot to mention to request a booth (large enough to seat 6) at the back of the restaurant. We do so by default and have never had an issue with smelling the ridiculous cigarette and cigar smoke that exudes into the lobby. For such a nice restaurant, I'll never understand why they don't invest in smoke eaters for the bar.