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Restaurant to splurge a little

Coming up to DC for Labor Day, I've missed the opportunity to even attempt to book at Minibar. My significant other says she wouldn't want me to spend that type of money on food and that is okay as I'm sure we'll spend plenty at other places (when we figure out what they are). So, my question is the following:

Though most of the meals (if I have any thing to do with it) will be pretty nice like Central (lunch or dinner) or Atlantico, where would be the best place (IYHO) to have a really great meal for my last night in town?

I was eyeing CityZen and I don't mind as I see the trade offs being that you don't pay for most of the museums or tours and so more money to spend on the dining. If you could also include the dress code (for either lunch or dinner).

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  1. I would try the back dining room at Palena or Equinox. At both you will get seasonally delicious food that is well-executed with good service. Dress code for both would be on the more formal end. A jacket for men is not necessary but you wouldn't feel out of place either wearing one. If you are looking for something more casual you can try the front cafe at Palena (although they don't take reservations).

    Others would be Komi (if you can get reservations) or Corduroy. Same dress code more or less as above...although I'm not really sure about Komi since I've never been (but have been dieing to go).

    18 Replies
    1. re: Elyssa

      Komi's closed until 9/8. For splurging, CityZen or Restaurant Eve are both excellent, unless you want to blow $190 for the tasting menu at Citronelle.

      1. re: Ericandblueboy

        Why is Komi closed until September 8th? If I am looking to make reservations to go there on September 10th on my birthday am I out of luck? Thanks.

        1. re: Jeremy303

          They always have had some weird hours and breaks. It isn't for any bad reason, just part of their normal gig. Could be to give everyone a group vacation or etc.

          1. re: Jeremy303

            It's posted on their website that they will reopen on 9/9. I suggest you call now to make reservation since they do 1 month in advance.

          2. re: Ericandblueboy

            I forgot about Restaurant Eve. If you are willing to travel outside the city (in Old Town Alexandria) this is a great choice.

            1. re: Elyssa

              I don't foresee myself going outside of the city. That and Sunday is the Symphony Concert which is in the plans but may be opted out of if we come to a consensus to do take a stroll.

              CityZen seemed like the first thing that came to mind.

              The thing with the tasting menus (which I'm either out of luck on or very happy about cause I get two fo the same dish) is that there is no choice and if one person is slightly pickier than the other.. it won't fly. Second to price this was another issue that my partner said she had with Minibar.. I'm up for the experience. Though Citronelle's was even more than Minibar (though they may offer more or larger courses)..

              Thoughts on tasting menu at Teatro?
              I've not seen much about Palena.
              How about Obelisk (I know it is fixed price) though they have no website or menu listing I think it's Italian.

              Seeing as we get in to town right around the start of dinner time Thurs and since we are staying near Lafayette Sq... I thougth Equinox would be great to hit the first day (start and end with a bang).. though we may do a foot tour at 7 and so maybe I'm think Central or DC Coast..

              Unfortunately (if you've seen my other posts) I'm a bit indecisive and the fact that it may be some time before I come back to DC means I feel like I want to hit as many great spots as I can...

              Here are the spots I've bookmarked based on threads I've read where the majority seemed to have enjoyed themselves...

              Spezie
              Tosca
              Obelisk
              Bombay Club
              Rasika
              Blacksalt
              Matchbox
              Zatinya
              Blue Duck
              Corduroy
              Atlantico
              Brasserie Beck

              Actually what will be harder than finding that one great send off restaurant is great places to do lunch (maybe Central) while mostly around the Mall.. I think the only museuams we are going to see are Newseum (the source I know), Holocaust and American History

              1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                The Chef's table at Teatro is fantastic (15+ courses), but it's also $125 per person just for food (same price as Minibar). Obelisk is nice, at around $70 per person for 6 courses. Other fine dining restaurants on your list that I'd go to are Blue Duck, Corduroy, and Rasika.

                1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                  I'd vote for BlackSalt - and take your time exploring the menu and specials.

                  1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                    If you really wanted a tasting menu at Cityzen, but are worried you could always contact them, I heard they do a mean roast chicken, they might be able to sub something so the foodie doesn't miss out!

                    1. re: ktmoomau

                      Thanks for the tip. I'm also inclined to ask about Marcel's and Zola.

                      1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                        I was interested in celebrating an occasion at Marcel's but they're also closed on that specific day in early September. Do call them and ask if they're open.

                        1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                          I love Marcel's. I've had much better meals there than at Citronelle.

                          It's also close to the Kennedy Center if that's where the Symphony is playing.

                          1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                            Marcel's is the absolute, hands-down, no contest way to have a tasting meal for people who don't want to relinquish control. In fact, I don't even know why they call their meal a tasting menu or list the options by course.

                            Basically, you choose how many courses you want to eat, remembering that the sizes are small plate sizes. Then, each diner chooses whatever he/she wants to eat. Some courses include lighter options and some courses include richer options. If one type of food appeals to you more, you're free to choose multiple dishes from within a single course. The kitchen will sequence the delivery of your dishes properly.

                            Couple this element of control with excellent service and an elegant atmosphere. I think you'll adore your experience at Marcel's.

                            Zola is a place to eat a wholly acceptable meal in a restaurant with a fun, spy-oriented, decor. However, it isn't remotely in league with CityZen or Marcel's.

                            1. re: Indy 67

                              Well Marcel's will be closed from Aug 30 - Sept 7th.... If I would have known all these places were going to shut down during Labor day. I'd have waited til Memorial day :-รพ

                              1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                At this point, you've had so many disappointments, I decided to take a positive approach. I THINK you're talking about dinner on Labor Day itself. Therefore, I went to the Open Table web site and plugged in September 7 at 7:30 p.m. for a party of 2.

                                Here are the restaurants you might enjoy that (drum roll please) are showing availability on Labor Day itself:
                                1789 Restaurant
                                Art and Soul
                                Bistro Bis
                                Blue Duck Tavern
                                Siroc Restaurant

                                From this list, I recommend either 1789, Bistro Bis, or Blue Duck Tavern.

                                If you're talking about a different day, you'll have somewhat more choices. For example, on Sunday you could consider Blacksalt (not Metro accessible but divine seafood). Still the best restaurants also on Open Table don't seem to be open that weekend. (Not all restaurants participate in Open Table.) Good luck!

                        2. re: burgeoningfoodie

                          The back room at Palena is very quiet, and the food is out of this world. Brasserie Beck is noisy, and while very good (one of my favorite places actually), not exactly something to die for, it is a much more casual restaurant than his other place Marcel's which is much more formal and old world like. But excellent. Corduroy is a very good choice as is Rasika if you are Indian food.

                          1. re: dinwiddie

                            I don't think we are going to travel that far from homebase (okay it looks far from midtown)

                      2. re: Ericandblueboy

                        Komi may be closing for an extended Labor Day weekend, but it is most definitely open this weekend.

                    2. You should call CityZen and check. They may be closed also for their annual vacation when you're in town.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: cheesepowder

                        I will definitely do that especially after seeing that Central will be closed that Sunday-Tuesday.. (no dinner on Sunday I guess).

                        1. re: cheesepowder

                          CityZen I don't think is closed but they don' t have any openings on OpenTable. I'm waiting to hear back from them though. Don't think we'll wind up at Citronelle.

                        2. CityZen is closed until the 11 of September and so that is out of the running. So I'm sorta back to Sq 1 as I was looking for something nice and a bit unique.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                            I didn't know so many top end restaurants would be closed during that time. I am going to Blue Duck next week myself, and ordering the bone marrow with parsley.

                            1. re: Ericandblueboy

                              I remember seeing that. Is it very.. iron tasting? Like a blood sausage might be? Don't know if we will get to there. On the converse side of restaurants that are closing (boooo hisss!), Jose's restaurants are extending their restaurant week menus though I'm not going to bother with those regardless of which place I go to.. There is too much to try and for the small plates (compared to other dining spots) the money can go a long way.

                              1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                Marrow is not bloody or irony...just soft and kind of like fat. You smear it all over toast and it's just delicious.

                                1. re: Ericandblueboy

                                  Good to know. I'd try it either way... like I said saving up the dough to use on food instead of museums :-p

                                  1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                    Too much of it will make you feel gross, luckily, I think the portions are just rigth at Blue Duck. A restaurant that isn't fine dining but has lots of interesting stuff on the menu and prepared very well is Bar Pilar (you can get 10 things for less than $100). I'd go to Bar Pilar over any other small plate restaurant in DC.

                                    1. re: Ericandblueboy

                                      I remember hearing of Bar Pilar a few years back when I was in the city. I kept raving about Jaleo so we'll stop there (though I know Zatinya is probably better... I miss those bacon wrapped dates :-p).. I'll keep it in mind.

                          2. Citronelle is only open on the Thursday we will be there and so that looks to be out too. I saw some mentions of Marvin, Posto and Dino (though Dino is out there).. Not restaurants that I would say are .. like this is our final night in the city lets go out with a bang type of places..

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                              Have you tried Restaurant Eve? It's not in the city but it is metro accessible in Alexandria.

                              1. re: italy531

                                No I've seen lots about it but thats a heck of a ride out. Right now I'm just trying to eliminate some possiblities due to their not being open. Plus at least two of the evenings we have plans that are going on at around 7-730.. so trekking out there (esp. in formal wear) may be a bit much for us.

                                How long is that train ride from mid town dc on a good day?

                                1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                  I just checked WMATA.com and from Metro Center to King Street it is a 25 minute ride on a Sunday after 6pm.

                                  1. re: italy531

                                    yeah I gave Eve a call and they said it was about 20 mins plus an 8 block walk. We shall see about Sunday. I sorta wanna see the Labor Day concert which starts at 6.

                                    1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                      Just to add, on the topic of getting around, the Metro ride from Gallery Place or Metro Center to Cleveland Park, where Palena and Dino are, is very short and easy. It's on the red line, and there have been some problems lately with that line, but it's really a short ride. If you want to go to one of those restaurants, no reason to think they're too far away. The Cleveland Park metro stop is literally a few steps from Palena -- easy easy -- and about a block from Dino. FYI.

                                      1. re: mselectra

                                        Good to know. I guess it looks far away when you look at a map of it all. I believe the line closest to our hotel is Orange Blue.. but yeah a few stops south is the crossover to the Red. We shall see... I'm going to provide some options and see what she would like to do.. we have 4 nights so potentially she can pick two and I can pick two.. I think my biggest concern the more I think about is lunch (as we won't want to eat too heavily but still eat good).. more to come soon enough..

                            2. Is Obelisk open that weekend? If so I would highly recommend it. It is a $70-75 per person menu of delicious northern Italian food. The chef brings out a few small plates to start, then you get to choose a pasta course, then a meat/fish course, then there is a cheese course, and your choice of dessert. IMO it is actually a great deal for the quality and amount of food you get. It is a very small restaurant so it is most likely already booked, but I've been able to get in last minute by calling to see if there were any cancellations, so that would be a good option for you.

                              Another great restaurant on the price level of Central is PS7s. It would be a good choice for one of the other evenings.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: dcfoodie13

                                Don't know about Obelisk yet as they weren't open yesterday to call and find out. I've kept them in mind in general. Proof I know is open that weekend and PS7 I hadn't gotten around to calling. Corduroy is closed and I didn't call 1789 as I'm not sure how accessible G'town is going to be based on our schedule. We have pretty full days with the main variables being nightly concerts (I think there is free shakespeare and the labor day symph performance), the Wash. Mon and a foot tour.

                                It also depends somewhat upon how long the avg. dining experience is. I'll probably repost with a rough plan soon enough.