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Birthday Dinner in DC for Baltimore Chowhound

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My birthday is coming up and I will have the great fortune to celebrate with my family (in town from Louisiana) out in Baltimore, and again with my GF that weekend out in DC. My usual Baltimore Birthday dinner destination is Charleston, but with the current economy I have decided on Woodberry Kitchen instead, where I have enjoyed many a meal with the GF.

While I consider my knowledge of the Baltimore dinning scene to be pretty on point, I confess I am fairly ignorant of the DC save for the big names and places for brunch, haha. As I hope one can tell from my Baltimore selection, and without getting into a Charleston vs. Woodberry debate, I am favoring a foregoing a more formal atmosphere and high-dollar ingredients for a more relaxed albeit hipper vibe, and less showy food. I believe this what I am looking for in my DC pick as well, top-notch interesting food at better price point than the top tier.

Some places I found that seem to fit the bill are Central, Blue Duck Tavern, Palena, Obelisk, PS7, and Corduroy perhaps in that order. And in a possibly different vain, I am also considering Jaleo or Rashika. I would love some guidance on these places as well as any others off my radar, perhaps one the higher rated seafood places. Oh, and we will be staying somewhere in DC for the night, so location in DC isnt much of an issue. I am looking for a special (delicious) birthday night for me and my girl. Thank you thank you.

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  1. please add proof to your list and consider it!! definitely top-notch interesting food with a very impressive wine list, to boot, and very good for a lower-key birthday celebration. Rasika is great but wouldn't be my first choice. I wouldn't waste your time on Jaleo — in my opinion it's too inconsistent for a semi-special occasion.

    1. You have a great list together. If you want something hip with a fun atmosphere and great food I would go with Central or Rasika. You should know that both can be very loud! (And out of the 2 I think Central is more affordable...at least when I went with my bf. But we ordered A LOT at Rasika and got lots of drinks).

      If you are looking for something in a more quiet environment (but not totally devoid of noise and perfect for a nice celebration) I would go with PS7. It is one of my favorite restaurants in town. I think the cooking is interesting and inventive and the drinks are probably the best around!

      Happy Birthday!

      4 Replies
      1. re: Elyssa

        We ordered a LOT at Rasika as well, and with tax/tip it was $100 for the two of us. However, if we had ordered like we normally order at Heritage, it would have been about the same we pay at Heritage and far better food...(wait, we ordered Lassis...but...that doesn't count!)

        1. re: Jeserf

          The tasting menu at Rasika is $75 per person. What you order has alot to do with how expensive or inexpensive the meal turns out to be.

          1. re: Ericandblueboy

            Wouldn't any restaurant be more or less expensive depending on what you ordered? I could get out of Rasika between the two of us for under $60...Heritage for the two of us is the same price (and not nearly as good).

            We both ordered a main, one "small" veggie side to share, a grilled item, the bread basket, and the spinach (plus two lassis) which was TOO much food and it was under $100 before tax/tip.

          2. re: Jeserf

            It was the wine that pushed us way over the $100 point and into the $200 area. We didn't need the wine and should have stuck to drinks (or quite frankly water) but that added a major expense.

        2. What about going someplace like Marvin on U St then going to gibson for drinks after to hang out?

          Otherwise, I think PS7 is probably more like something you can't get in Baltimore and very tasty - drinks are great and the desserts are, too!

          2 Replies
          1. re: Jeserf

            people recently have been saying that marvin has become so insanely loud it's almost unbearable. i haven't experienced this for myself Jeserf...has it seemed like that to you?

            1. re: littlew1ng

              I don't know - my friends love it there - food and atmosphere - but I've never been. It's not vegetarian friendly, so I've never had a reason to go. I recommended it because it's not exiensive, it's hip, and I've heard good things about the food.

          2. As a fellow B'more hound who also spends time in DC, I would consider Dino's for good food, great cocktails and unbelieveable wine list.

            11 Replies
            1. re: lawhound

              Alright, thanks for all the great replies and suggestions everyone, thats why I love this place.

              After reading all the replies, I think I am still leaning toward Central. I really love actual french bistro food, and dont eat it very often, and i havent seen much negative about the place other than the noise levels. A lot of the other places seem to really have their fans and their detractors, which is fair. I guess you could say I am looking for a safe choice but not a safe meal.

              Where would you recommend sitting at Central for a more intimate choice? Not totally adverse to noise, im still in my 20s, but dont always like to yell or hear the next table's full conversation.

              1. re: ingramcol

                I have found the seats along the wall, away from the kitchen to be much quieter. Of course then you miss out on the view of the kitchen.

                If you are looking for menu recommendations I love, love, love the faux gras and duck rillettes. Big, delicious, and filling...but totally worth it. If you really want to do it up right have a light lunch and order a lot of food for dinner. I always have trouble choosing off of the Central menu. I usually send the waiter away about 3 times before I can make my choice!

                1. re: Elyssa

                  the fried chicken is phenomenal and I'd skip the gougeres sp? (cheese puffs),if they're on, they're great, if they're off they're very off.

                  1. re: hill food

                    Awesome I appreciate the recs. Thanks for the tip on the puffs, not fun to miss.

                    Yeah, those 'faux gras' & duck rillettes sound right up my alley. Anyone have their steak tartare? Big fan of this dish, and like most, dont order it often enough. I have heard both the fried chicken and the burger are great, any other recs for mains?

                    1. re: ingramcol

                      I would ask to sit in the table that is screened off from the main dining room with the little metal curtain. You still see everything going on, but that is really the best and most quiet seat in the house.

                      I have to respectfully disagree on the gougeres, I think they are always off. They are simply baked cheese, not that great. I think the faux gras and rilettes or the bacon and onion tart are far superior and would save my room for them. Their soft shell preparation is also good. I can't remember anything special about their steak tartare, good, but I don't think it is that different than most places so I just don't know that I would choose it above other things, except for the fact that it comes with their amazing fries which might elevate it.

                      On mains the fried chicken is very good, I love the lobster burger, but many people disagree on that and I like rich food. Their goat cheese caeser salad is very good if you want a salad. And sometimes I order a lot of apps with a group then get mussels and fries for dinner because I think they have an exemplary example of fries. For other entrees I really like the rabbit which has a mustard gravy that is the best example of mustard gravy I have ever seen, very refined, not too mustardy very balanced you can tell they worked on this for a long time. The lamb shank and steak au poivre are good. The bolognese is also good.

                      And then normally all the desserts are excellent my particular favorites are the chocolate bar and the banana split which is huge and could feed at least 4, but I never have that many people sharing it...

                      I think the hardest part of Central is to figure out how much robust rich food you can possibly eat in one sitting. It is our favorite place so luckily I can do it over many meals...

                      1. re: ktmoomau

                        Awesome, I really appreciate the in-depth stuff.

                        Haha, Ill see if I can get that seat, sounds like the ideal spot.

                        Cool, skip the cheesepuffs, no problem. I love rabbit & mustard, and havent had rabbit in a while. The last steak tartare I had was disappointing @ a modern art museum in BSAS, maybe I should have known better.

                        Yeah, I dont eat very rich food often, and the GF never really does, so im excited/nervous to navigate the menu, eyes are probably bigger than stomach, but that should help the wallet.

                        Thanks.

                        1. re: ktmoomau

                          They have a 48 hr(?) short rib that is incredible and a very different preperation than I'm use to (no bones!).

                          A simple yet delicious appetizer is the poached egg and lardons salad. It's very well done. One of the best salads I've ever had.

                          The lobster burger is good but very, very rich.

                          If your gf is looking for a lighter dish, the roast chicken is very nice as is the skate with caper sauce (best green beans I've ever had!).

                          1. re: Elyssa

                            i dont think the shortrib has been on the menu for a while. i have had the steak tartar and it is ver good and very large. the mussel chowder is great as is the scallop entree. I also like the lobster and shrimp burger, though they are very rich. everything is typically very good. i would definitely reccomend it.

                            1. re: elegantelliot

                              Yeah, i noticed the short rib isnt on the menu, probably a fall/winter thing. Question, does the place have nightly specials? I haven't noticed anyone mention them, but figured I'd ask.

                              Hmm, maybe if im in the tartare mood, ill go for the app portion.

                              1. re: ingramcol

                                I don't think the have specials...at least they never have had them when I've been there.

                                1. re: ingramcol

                                  The faux gras and duck rillettes are a MUST ORDER. I think the tuna burger is much better then the lobster burger which is the only item on the menu I suggest avoiding. Soft shell crab is also extra special, if on the menu.

                2. Jaleo: I love going there and always have fun plus the food is great and you can control your expences somewhat as long as you dont drink too much
                  Granville Moores: trendy pub restaurant with excellent pommes frites and moules. Chef defeated Bobby Flay in a throwdown last summer
                  Zlatynia: small plates medeteranean-middle east by Jose Andre" the owner of Jaleo. good eye candy like Jaleo
                  Brasserie Beck: Belgian restaurant,,,mussles, great beer selection
                  Central: Michelle Richard with his great food at more reasonable prices than Citronelle in a french bistro setting
                  pick any of the above and it fits the bill for you