Restaurants in Private Clubs Around Town
A recent topic got me to thinking: perhaps some of the best restaurants around town are to be found at private clubs- beautiful rooms, outstanding place settings, first class service and extraordinary food. My bet is that many chowhounders have been to these private sanctuaries as members or guests to some of the best... any stories, specialties, favorites from clubland, from a food perspective both in DC, in the burbs and in Baltimore?
I am not sure there is a club in this city that I haven't been to (Metropolitan Club, Cosmos Club, Georgetown Club, University Club, City Tavern Club, Army Navy Club, Sulgrave Club, etc.). While you are correct that many of them are beautiful oak paneled rooms, the food, virtually without exception, stinks. The same is true at the country clubs (ie Chevy Chase, Columbia, Congressional, etc). Even the service couldn't compete with the top DC restaurants. Wine lists are dismal with a very limited selection.
What they do best is cater to their members. It's often the case that you don't even pick up the menu. Quirkiness and crankiness in ordering is their specialty.
Of all those I listed, The Georgetown Club has probably remained the most refined. From the room, to the linens, to the crystal, the embossed china, the impeccable service, a thoughtful wine list, etc., it is still an impressive meal. The food itself though is hardly the draw.
Now, years and years ago (the '80) there was a place called the Pisces Club on M Street between 30th and 31st. That was something else. It was really more of a high-end nightclub, but the food and the service were outstanding. It was not uncommon that half the diners were in black-tie. Champagne corks went "pop" "pop" "pop" all night long.
The Georgetown club has really good food. I like the bar area it's so pretty and they have great service.
The food at the Washington Club is pretty good, but they don't have regular service, the rooms are very pretty for private events.
The University Club's food is better than the Washington Club, not as good as Georgetown, but they have more regular food service, and the rooms are decently pretty.
I don't think for normal dinner any of these places are among the best places to go, for private events they are really nice though, and more affordable than most minimums at restaurants.
I have never been to the Capitol Club, but my sister just went to a wedding there and she raved about how beautiful it was and said the food was very good.
Oh and the Mansion on O has very good food, the rooms are very wild, I believe it is open to the public a few times a month for brunch.