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Foodie needs help for a small business group dining in DC

My company is a sponsor at a trade show at the Renaissance DC (on 9th by Mt Vernon Sq) in mid June and we are hosting a dinner one night for a small group of key clients and prospective clients. Group is likely to be between 12 and 18 people - travel budgets are tight so a lot of potential attendees who have registered to attend the trade show are actually unlikely to fly in this year. Its the first year in DC and so I am looking for some help in selecting the venue. Key criteria - trendy(ish), superior service and food, somewhere they will be impressed but is not too stuffy. Also think it preferable that it be reasonable walking distance from the hotel so that transportation is not an issue. Not looking for inexpensive, but also not looking to break the bank. I have been reading up on here and have short listed some places that I think will give some insight into what I am thinking of:

Proof - easy walking distance, seems to have good food and vibe and reasonably priced (altho probably would need to select wine before getting there because that list is so darn long!) - but no private dining space. Is that going to be a problem - is it loud in there?

Central - private dining room for up to 18 and they do set-menus for private dining that is reasonably priced

PS7

Zola

The Source - from initial research this would be my fave but seems a bit too far to walk.

Not necessarily looking for a private room especially if it would mean losing the ambiance of the place, but think it might be preferable.

Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I have a bit of a reputation as a foodie so I am feeling the pressure to select somewhere good!

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  1. I'd add Acadiana to your list -- much closer to your hotel, upscale "Louisiana-style" cuisine, nice atmosphere inside, and they can accommodate a group your size.

    1 Reply
    1. re: bordeauxfan

      Good call.

    2. My vote would go to PS7 but Zola also has great ambiance and food (at least the last time I was there which was over a year ago).

      I love Central but it can get very loud in there, which will make it hard to have a conversation at a large table. It's also a little farther of a walk compared to the others. If you would consider a private room then Central might work.

      1. someone did their homework. all good choices. I was in Proof a month or 2 ago and it seemed medium loud, not jet loud (but that's such a relative thing these days)

        BTW recent reviews in the Washington Post include actual decibel readings.

        1. thanks for the tips - I am going to DC tomorrow for a night to organize some things for the trade show and will be checking out The Source, Proof, Central and PS7.

          Proof have no set menu or private dining options, so need to checknoise levels.
          PS7 has great set menu options, so will check out the space.
          Central's private room looks good inthe photo, will let you know.

          Never got a reply from Zola so they are off the list.

          Any tips on what to try at each?

          6 Replies
          1. re: mrmagee

            You are going to get a chance to eat at all of these restaurants??? What a great job! hahaha

            At PS7 try the tuna sliders, at Proof the gnocchi and tuna tartar, and at Central (can I say everything??) the rillettes and faux grad and the chocolate bar. I haven't been to the Source.

            And while at PS7 and Central try one of their great cocktails. My favorite at PS7 is the Yes We Can(ton) and at Central the Miner's Club Cocktail---both great summer drinks.

            1. re: mrmagee

              definitely try the risotto at proof and i like the shrimp and lobster sliders at zola.

              1. re: mrmagee

                Also at Proof you should try the charcuterie. I haven't had it, but have heard there's a really impressive foie gras there, too.

                Once I finally tried those tuna sliders at PS7, I wasn't as impressed as Elyssa, but I don't really like tuna much, I guess. I do really agree with her that PS7 and Central are two of the best places you could find for mixed drinks. PS7 has a new "thai's the limit" cocktail that was great, and I loved the kumquat one, too. The rickey at Central is also wonderful if they're serving it.

                Central also has some famous desserts, like the "kit kat" one (which might not be called that, maybe that's the chocolate bar Elyssa mentioned?) and banana split that you might want to check out.

                Of course, there's lots of discussion of all three elsewhere on here.

                Good luck with the planning and enjoy the eating!

                1. re: mselectra

                  the fried chicken in a mustard sauce at Central was really good. Panko, I would guess. and one of the better bread baskets in town (after SF I'm always disappointed).

                  what I like about PS7's drinks is that they're seasonal. in Fall/Winter there was a beet cocktail and not anymore, the bartender keeps jars of marinating fruits and vegetables on the back bar and if not busy, gladly answers questions.

                  1. re: mselectra

                    The kit-kat and chocolate bar are the same things. I think at Central it is now officially on the menu as the "chocolate bar."

                    Also at PS7--I totally forgot about the oxtail tots. These things are addictive and spectacular! A must try!

                  2. re: mrmagee

                    beg to disagree about Proof: They do offer set pix fixe menus. You just have to call their special events manager to arrange such a thing. They did one for a friend's birthday and it even had a birthday message printed on it for us.

                  3. The problem with that private room at Central is that they insist on a 7-course Citronelle type meal. Therefore you miss out on all the dishes that Central does really well like Faux Gras, Chacuterie, Fried Chicken, Lobster Burger etc. The main dining room is one of the loudest in the city.

                    I like Source alot, and it's always a big hit with guests. Maybe walk there and split cabs back?

                    Proof is good too. It is usually crowded and loud. Especially on weekend or game days.

                    I think PS7 and Zola are zeros.

                    Look at 701 which has been totally redone and also look at Rasika.

                    -----
                    PS7 Restaurant
                    777 I Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001

                    Rasika Restaurant
                    633 D Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

                    Citronelle
                    3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Pappy

                      Do you realize that you are answering a 2009 post?

                      1. re: Teddybear

                        Nope. Sure didn't. Looks like elledeepea's post somehow pushed it back up to the top.

                        Sorry.

                        1. re: Pappy

                          I don't know what's wrong with me, but whenever I see old posts like this I really, really, really want to know where they ended up going, how it was, etc.

                          I was about to recommend Cuba Libre, which didn't even exist then!

                          1. re: Raids

                            ahh while the DC board is active, the scene doesn't change that fast. some recs for downtown are relatively good for a while. a new poster can always learn and ask for veracity.

                    2. Againn has a very nice private room; there is a minimum. Irish gastropub. Excellent attention to detail on the plate. Just around the corner.

                      www.againndc.com