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Jun 19, 2010 03:09 PM

Beijing to DC

Native Los Angeleno son is flying into DC from Beijing for the all-day Foreign Service exam next week (7-5). I -- a loyal LA Hound -- am flying in to meet him. We are staying in Foggy Bottom so he can walk to the test at groan 6:30 that morning. Is there anyplace open that early in the area so I can grab him breakfast? And how about a non-Asiam (but light) meal for the night before? Also right after the test, we have to beat it to BWI to fly on to visit the grandparent. I would like to be packing a good dinner for both physical and emotional support (We won't be landing in Providence until 11 pm). Need I add we will have no car. So actually three questions:

6 am breakfast in Foggy Bottom? Or something I can keep in hotel room (State Plaza) from night before?
light non Asian dinner the night before (sigh, Monday night)?
Something restorative I can get packed to go for the MARC/Airport leg?

You should probably know this son started studying Mandarin at 13 so he could order off the left side of the menu. And bakes nonstop in Beijing in a toaster-oven. Serious foodie.

Thanks so much.

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  1. I plugged your Monday date and Foggy Bottom into Open Table and came up with some restaurants: Marcel's, Dish, Founding Farmer's, and Tonic Restaurant at Quincy's Pharmacy. (I've never heard of the last restaurant.)

    In theory, Founding Farmer's would work. Please do a search on this board because there are a few dishes that are quite well regarded. However, in general, the restaurant doesn't deliver the promised food or service.

    If you eat before 7:00 p.m., Marcel's offers a three-course option for its tasting menu that might work for you. The food will certainly meet the standards of a serious foodie and the limited number of courses will meet your light-non-Asian dinner requirements. Incidentally, the courses you eat do not have to follow an appetizer-main-dessert pattern. The web site explicitly says "Any three courses from our menu can be selected."

    If you're willing to take a short taxi ride, Blue Duck Tavern (modern American cuisine) or Black Salt (seafood) would be good alternataives. My recommendation for Blue Duck may seem surprising since it is a place known for its hearty, homey meat options. I could happily make a meal of the scallop or crab cake appetizers and a soup or salad. I also recommend that you split an order of their signature fries. Finally, split their sublime apple pie. I'm tempted to say that you could save a piece for your son's breakfast the next morning, but the teacher in me wants to avoid a sugar high and crash during the test. A better strategy would be to hit one of the small grocery stores in the GWU area (I think there's a small Safeway in an apartment building on Virginia Ave.) to grab some dry nuts, whole grain bread, peanut butter and make your son breakfast in the room.

    Good luck to your son!

    5 Replies
    1. re: Indy 67

      Blue Duck Tavern is only a block and a half or so from Marcel's. It wouldn't require a taxi.

      I love Marcel's, but don't think of it as "light". The food tends to be quite rich.

      Blue Duck Tavern
      1201 24th Street NW, Washington, DC 20037

      1. re: Hal Laurent

        No argument. Marcel's signature dishes are rich: the boudin blanc is an excellent case in point. But the chef doesn't go brain dead creating and cooking the lighter dishes on the menu. The same precision... the same commitment to excellent sourcing... the same fabulousness is evident in all the food at Marcel's. Since the menu allows a guest to create a meal from anything on the menu, there's no rule that says a person has to order something from the fourth and fifth courses to eat a sublime meal at Marcel's.

        The OP has location constraints, day-of-the-week constraints, and size-of-the-meal constraints. He wants to deal with all these constraints and satisfy the taste of his foodie son. Just because you might dine at Marcel's and order dishes that are quite rich doesn't mean that Marcel's is a bad choice for the OP.

        You're quite right that if the OP is willing to walk to Marcel's he could do the same to Blue Duck. I was focusing on the fact that Marcel's falls into Open Table's Foggy Bottom grouping and Blue Duck Falls into its West End grouping.

      2. re: Indy 67

        Thank you so much for all the suggestions! I had my eye on Marcel's due to proximity and other comments on this board. I'd also considered Central which apparently is also open that Monday and is walking distance, too. But I hadn't heard of the other places. I will definitely research.

        1. re: ronke

          Central is probably 15 blocks or so from Marcel's. Don't know if that's what you consider walking distance.

          1. re: Hal Laurent

            Google Maps describes it as 1.5 miles via Pennsylvania one way. That is certainly doable if the weather isn't too brutal. Though Marcel's is certainly closer and has the advantage of taking us through the GWU neighborhood for breakfast supplies. Thanks for mentioning it.

      3. Kinkead's is within walking distance if he's interested in decent seafood the night before. Tonic is even closer to State Plaza and serves American comfort food, which might help him focus. On the morning of the exam, your son should just go down the block to grab something at Starbucks. It can be a grueling exam, but the good news is that he will get some bonus points for speaking Mandarin, a coveted language in the Foreign Service.

        Kinkead's Restaurant
        2000 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20006-1812

        1 Reply
        1. re: konbaba

          I will definitely run both suggestions by him. And thanks for the kind words about the test. Grueling tests he can handle generally, but toppling off a plane from Beijing and jet-lagged out of his mind is probably not the best preparation.