One or Two Nights in DC-February 2011
Going to DC for the first time in decades. Will be at the Renaissance. Want something special and different (which won't be hard since I live in Montana!). A couple of places have popped up one way or another- Birch and Barley, RIS, 1789, and a few more. Will be with others but my preferences are for excellent food, great atmosphere (smaller and intimate). I eat anything except sushi. Not interested in trendy. Thanks for any guidance or thoughts.
Birch and Barley
1337 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005
2275 L Street NW, Washington, DC 20037
Of course there is no shortage of places to showcase what we have in DC that you don't in Montana. I think you would be impressed with Againn (Irish Gastropub), Jaleo (Spanish tapas), Central (Modern Bistro), Brasserie Beck (Belgian), and in Arlington, VA but very close to a Metro station are Lyon Hall (Alsatian), Chez Manelle (Tunisian), and Me Jana (Lebanese). Chez Manelle is particularly intimate.
All of these places plus the ones you mentioned have menus online, which I think you should check out.
IMO, a preference for smaller and intimate rules out all the places listed that I've been to - certainly Jaleo and Beck. Possibly Againn - it really depends on how busy it is, and it also definitely feels trendy, although I love the food. Same with Birch and Barley, IMO. RIS is not quite as bustling, but still has a quite a few tables. I guess I need a better idea of what the OP means.
What about Obelisk for Italian. It isn't too formal, but is pretty intimate? I have never been, but it is on my list for a special occasion when I get a chance and gets good reviews, you could search the board for more info.
I think the back room at Palena certainly fits the bill. Small and intimate, but with exquisite cooking from a White House Chef. The consomme and gnocchi is always amazing.
Marcel's would also fit the bill. Very rich, decadent but very good French food in a little jewel box like setting.
I haven't been to Ris or 1789.
If you want really fresh seafood I would recommend Blacksalt. The restaurant isn't huge, I think it is pretty nice atmosphere warm and inviting, but also slightly modern. The front is a fish market with tile but it really all blends quite well. It isn't close to a metro, but wouldn't be that bad of a cab.
Those are my suggestions. But again haven't been to Ris or 1789.
If you want something really different though I may opt to pass on the small and intimate to have a meal at Rasika for really great Indian food. It's brother restaurant Bombay Club may be a little more intimate, but it still kind of big, but might be more towards the ambiance you seek.
I didn't think Againn was non-intimate, but I think I would choose some over things over it if I were coming from Montana.
3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008
633 D Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004
815 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20006
I just went back to Birch and Barley again, and I think the feel is definitely a lot more intimate if you request a table in the back room by the kitchen. We waited a bit longer at the upstairs bar for our table so they could accommodate our seating request, but they seemed perfectly happy to do it as long as we were happy to wait an extra 10-15 minutes or so. Same with Againn - definitely can have a more intimate feel if you get the right table, and they do amazing things with pork there.