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Washington D.C. restaurant with great food fit for formal attire

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My husband and I are visiting Washington in April. We'll be attending a black tie event early in the evening and want to find a restaurant with great food where we will feel comfortable arriving in formal attire. (Lively bar with interesting cocktails a plus!)

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  1. CityZen in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel is perfect for this. It has a nice bar area and excellent high-priced food.

    1. You'd be quite comfortable in formal attire at Marcel's, and the food is great. I don't know anything about the bar there, though.

      1. If you happen to be attending the event in Northern VA, I would highly recommend Restaurant Eve in Alexandria. The food is excellent and the cocktails are the best in the DC area.

        1 Reply
        1. re: dcfoodie13

          Second this. Also If you are in Georgetown Citronelle has a lounge, but I don't think they have the same level of bar as his other restaurant, which is more casual. But if you are in NOVA definitely Restaurant Eve.

        2. 1789 in Georgetown REQUIRES jackets, as does Prime Rib, on K Street. You will not be out of place at either.

          1. doesn't have a lively bar but The Prime Rib has a jacket requirement and the food is great plus they pour a mean cocktail. Otherwise Citronelle in Georgetown would definitely work.

            1. I think you can feel comfortable wearing formal clothing in any restaurant. It's not too uncommon to see folks in tuxes and dresses. Most people assume they're on their way or back from an event

              Once, a friend and I finished performing in a concert and went to the bar at the Old Ebbit Grill, and just stood and ate and drank and chatted people up. No one seemed to notice or care that we were in tuxes.

              3 Replies
              1. re: MartinDC

                ANY restaurant? I'm not so sure I'd feel comfortable in formal clothing at Eli's or Mark's Duck House (which unfortunately has really gone downhill recently).

                1. re: ClevelandDave

                  I've eaten in many, many, cheap chinatown restaurants and greasy-spoon diners in DC and the suburbs wearing a tuxedo. Never bothered me or them.

                  That said, it would help if I knew where in town the OP was going to be. Certainly you'd have fun at Cafe Milano in Gtown, 701downtown, or a little quieter, Palena uptown.

                  1. re: ClevelandDave

                    a tux at duck's? LOL!!

                2. I would also recommend CityZen, as well as Citronelle. I've heard wonderful things about Marcel's but have never been...

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: joann.hill12

                    Thank you all so very much for the recommendations. We had dinner at CityZen on a prior visit to Washington and we had a wonderful meal. I don't think we'll make it out to Restaurant Eve although I looked it up and for our next trip to Washington, we'll give it a try. I'm deciding between Citronelle and Marcel's. Any help with the decision making?

                    1. re: aaachowhound

                      citronelle- internationally recognized chef, beautiful atmosphere, excellent food, professional service, great wines and a price that reflects all of the above.

                      1. re: dining with doc

                        I 2nd this recommendation. Although I haven't ever been to Marcel's but I hear wonderful things.

                        Citronelle is worth is for the Citronelle Breakfast (actually dessert) alone. So magical and playful!

                      2. re: aaachowhound

                        You can't go wrong with either decision.

                        I'd choose Marcel's simply because I love their approach: each diner uniquely creates a tasting menu by choosing exactly what he/she wants to eat that night. Ignore the course designations on the menu -- literally choose anything you want to eat and the restaurant will sequence the meal correctly.

                        However, I love Citronelle, too. So I'll simply repeat you can't make a wrong decision!

                        1. re: Indy 67

                          Echoing both are a great choice.

                          I find Marcel's food a little richer than Citronelle, although both have extremely rich options to choose. I think the bar at Marcel's is very cute, but smaller than the lounge at Citronelle.

                          I don't think you could go wrong with either. I love both, they are my favorites in the city (Fiance still needs to take me to Komi then that may change).

                          I think the intimate bar at Marcel's may be a fun time though to have a nice moment together though if that would be something you would be interested in.

                          1. re: ktmoomau

                            Thanks for the info. We have reservations for Komi as well on this trip - sounds like we will definitely be eating well. Everything we've heard about Komi sounds great.

                        2. re: aaachowhound

                          Let me add another voice in favor of Marcel's. It is classically elegant and I find it to be very romantic. I have always felt especially pampered there. And, as Indy 67 said, you can feel free to completely design your own meal. This is not to say that you wouldn't have a fabulous experience at Citronelle...just that I would choose Marcel's over Citronelle in this situation. Whichever you choose, have a wonderful time!

                      3. The Source. Lively bar downstairs. Great food upstairs.

                        1. adour, alain ducasse's place at the st. regis, should fill the bill. i particularly like the bar. i promise you won't be overdressed.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: steve h.

                            Don't you think the old "Library Bar" when it was the Sheraton Carlton was classier? I thought the new Ardour bar was a trip back to the '70s!

                            Don't you think the food was a lot better at the old Lespinesse (sp?) than it was at Ardour?

                            1. re: Pappy

                              hi pappy,
                              i can see your point but the place needed an update. in defense of your position, the lobby today is a little lost and confused. i suspect a committee was formed...

                            2. re: steve h.

                              We've been to his restaurant in NYC. The food was good the prices ridiculous, and the service was too over the top for me. How does Alain Ducasse's place in Washington compare?

                              1. re: aaachowhound

                                service is of a very high order, setting, too. food is very good. martinis at the bar work for me. pricey.

                            3. I agree with others' recommendations of Citronelle. You might also look into the Adour. The Four Seasons' hotel in Georgetown also has a nice bar/lounge along with the Bourbon Steak restaurant (which I haven't tried yet--but have posted here on CH asking about others' experiences--anyone?).

                              Have a great time!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Gigi007

                                We just returned from DC. We had a romantic dinner at Restaurant Eve - a lovely spot with great service and food. Preceding this, we had drinks at the PX bar - no sign, just a blue light by the entrance. Very interesting cocktails. One included celery root, coconut milk, white truffle oil and Hawaiian salt. The culinary highlight of our trip was dinner at Komi. We ordered the tasting meal which included 15 mezzethakia (small one or two bite appetizers) which were all delicious, with varied ingredients and interesting presentations. Our mezzethakia included shima aji, kampachi, maine sweet shrimp, a "deconstructed" taramosalata (caviar over house made mayo on a small brioche), oyster, scallop, king salmon, a "fried caesar salad", octopus, hangar steak tartare, and an interesting "dessert" mezzethakia including a date stuffed with mascarpone, an "animal" cracker with a strong cheese taste, and a smore. We then had four pasta dishes, wonderful slow roasted suckling pig and four interesting desserts to end the meal. The accompanying wine pairings were unique including a greek "champagne" and a number of Italian and Spanish wines. Our dinner lasted about three hours during which time three different waiters choreographed our meal perfectly (and got a strenuous work-out walking back and forth from the kitchen to our table at the very front of the restaurant). We've had the opportunity to savor amazing tasting menus at many fine NY restaurants but I must say that Komi was equal to any of them in the quality of the ingredients, the presentation and the unique combination of food. Thanks for your recommendations.