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Got approx. $250 to spend and need a great restaurant recommendation

t
terpfan101 Feb 6, 2011 12:26 PM

Hello there,

I am currently in search of a great restaurant to take my girlfriend to in the DC area. It's also going to be our late Valentines Day celebration dinner since we have other plans next weekend. After putting many weeks of long hours at work, my boss told me and some coworkers to go have a nice dinner with a significant other and charge it to his personal code. He said as long as you're not spending 1000 I'm ok, but he wasn't serious, so I figured that I should keep it to about $250.

Anyway some of my favorite restaurants in DC are Zaytinya and Jaleo, so I'd prefer to try something new. I don't think I could do Citronelle, Komi, or CityZen at that price with wine, tax, and tip. So I've been thinking about the following choices.

My first grouping of choices includes: 1789, Central Michel Richard, The Source, Volt, Zengo, and Proof. The second (less preferable) grouping includes: The Oval Room, 701, Poste, and Vidalia. I've seen mixed reviews on all of them so am kind of torn and would appreciate any advice! Thanks in advance!

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1789 Restaurant
1226 36th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20007

Jaleo
480 7th St. NW, Washington, DC 20004

CityZen Restaurant
1330 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20024

Poste Brasserie
555 8th Street NW, Washington, DC 20004

Central Michel Richard
1001 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20004

Citronelle
3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

Komi
1509 17th St NW Ste 1, Washington, DC 20036

Proof
775 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001

The Source By Wolfgang Puck
575 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20001

Zaytinya
701 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

Volt
228 North Market Street, Frederick, MD 21701

Vidalia
1990 M Street, Washington, DC 20036

Zengo Restaurant
781 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

701 Restaurant
701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20004

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  1. t
    tldmatrix RE: terpfan101 Feb 6, 2011 12:39 PM

    what about minibar?
    http://teenchefteddy.blogspot.com/

    2 Replies
    1. re: tldmatrix
      hill food RE: tldmatrix Feb 6, 2011 02:15 PM

      minibar is nice but the BIG question is a 2-week heads up for reservation (even with"pull")? just not possible w/o a cancellation.

      and BTW I want your boss.I didn't know they made them like that anymore.

      1. re: tldmatrix
        c oliver RE: tldmatrix Feb 15, 2011 09:38 PM

        Minibar is $150pp w/o wine etc.

      2. j
        Jeserf RE: terpfan101 Feb 6, 2011 12:49 PM

        I would consider Bibiana as well - same owners as 701 and excellent with a nice interior and excellent service

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        Bibiana
        1100 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20005

        1. j
          J_DC RE: terpfan101 Feb 6, 2011 01:13 PM

          I think you have put together a pretty good list. Someone mentioned Minibar above, but you can't do that under $250 for 2.

          One place you did not mention, but I would highly recommend is Obelisk. You should be able to get out of there with wine at $250, though close to it. It is a small intimate and romantic place with excellent food. Getting a reservation with less than a month before can be difficult, but it may be worth a try.

          Of your first group, I have been to Central and Zengo (and Proof, but only for drinking). I think Central is a really unique and fun place to go. I would probably recommend against Zengo, not because its not good, but I consider it of similar feel and quality (maybe slightly lower) than a Zaytinya and therefore not too different. Although I haven't been yet, 1789 may be a good pick for a Valentines Day dinner, especially if you get one of the tables by the fireplace for a romantic meal. I can't offer advice on your other top ones other than that I myself would love to go to all of them at some point.

          -----
          Zaytinya
          701 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

          Zengo Restaurant
          781 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

          1. n
            nytdct RE: terpfan101 Feb 6, 2011 01:17 PM

            You could do quite nicely at Rasika and stay within your budget

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            Rasika Restaurant
            633 D Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

            1. s
              Steve RE: terpfan101 Feb 6, 2011 02:01 PM

              You could go to the Lounge at Citronelle for that price, a bit more special than Central. No reservations needed, not formal.

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              Citronelle
              3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

              1. m
                MrsWheatie RE: terpfan101 Feb 6, 2011 02:08 PM

                Check out Corduroy!

                1. j
                  justaddwater RE: terpfan101 Feb 6, 2011 03:24 PM

                  I've eaten at both Bibiana and Restaurant Eve in the past week. Your favorites (Jaleo, Zaytinya, etc), well, I've eaten there multiple times in the past year, they are frequent lunch spots. Rasika, Zengo are not $250 spots, they are comparable to Jaleo/Zaytinaya. I would certainly not drop $250 at Bibiana. Good, but not great. Food is frequently faulty (too much salt, dishes quite not there, etc). Probably couldn't spend that much there if you tried anyway. I'm never in DC for dinner, but I have to believe Restaurant Eve is right up there with your unattainable list, I really can't fault anything I've had there and I tend to seek flaws at this type of place.

                  -----
                  Restaurant Eve
                  110 South Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

                  Rasika Restaurant
                  633 D Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

                  Zaytinya
                  701 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

                  Zengo Restaurant
                  781 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

                  Bibiana
                  1100 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20005

                  1. m
                    marcj RE: terpfan101 Feb 6, 2011 07:23 PM

                    The food is nothing like either Zaytinya or Jaleo (of course, this is also true of Citronelle and CityZen), but if you want to max out your $250 at a fairly romantic place, you might try Marcel's: the food's great, and the pricing structure is very flexible.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: marcj
                      t
                      terpfan101 RE: marcj Feb 14, 2011 02:31 PM

                      Hi Marc,

                      I'm leaning towards Marcel's. I see jacket is required and was wondering what the ladies wear there? Also should I be wearing a full suit with tie or just sportscoat with slacks?

                      Finally, with the tasting menus, if you choose 5 courses, can you pick any 5 courses? Thanks.

                      1. re: terpfan101
                        m
                        marcj RE: terpfan101 Feb 14, 2011 05:49 PM

                        Hi terp,

                        In my experience, they don't enforce the jacket rule stringently: I honor it, but I'm pretty sure I've seen male diners there without jackets. They definitely don't require suits or ties--sportscoat w/slacks is fine. I'd say it's basically business casual or nicer--no jeans, no t-shirts, no sneakers. For ladies, slacks/skirt and a sweater/blouse are fine. Of course, a cocktail dress would certainly not be inappropriate.

                        And yes, you can choose any 5 courses--I think you could even have the same dish twice, though I've not tried that. But I've definitely had a couple of filling meat dishes at one dinner there. It's a pretty fantastic degree of flexibility.

                        Have fun there (if you go).

                        1. re: marcj
                          d
                          Doh RE: marcj Feb 28, 2011 10:14 AM

                          This quote is from Wiedmeier a couple of years ago about the dress code at Marcels "I don't turn people away if they don't have a tie on, but if you come without a suit and tie, you feel stupid."

                          1. re: Doh
                            m
                            marcj RE: Doh Feb 28, 2011 04:31 PM

                            That's nice. I was there in December, and didn't see any male diners in ties.

                    2. t
                      terpfan101 RE: terpfan101 Feb 7, 2011 09:56 AM

                      Thanks to everyone for the suggestions. I definitely thought of Minibar as it seems to be one of the hardest restaurants to get into and is expensive. But I'd not be able to get in for a month atleast.

                      I'll rule out Zengo then as I too thought it'd be something I could do for an amount similar to Jaleo/Zaytinya. I want something that I normally wouldn't go to for this meal. So I'm thinking of taking a look to see whats available at Central, Cordoroy, 1789, and the Lounge at Citronelle. I think Marcel's may be a bit too fancy for me (I'm 25). Also for the Lounge at Citronelle, how busy is it on a Saturday night? I don't see anything about making reservations. Also what's the dress code like in that part? Would it be worthy of a $250 dinner? Thanks again and keep the suggestions coming.

                      -----
                      Citronelle
                      3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

                      Zengo Restaurant
                      781 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: terpfan101
                        s
                        Steve RE: terpfan101 Feb 7, 2011 05:15 PM

                        No reservations for the Lounge at Citronelle. I think it's one of the best kept secrets around, and I've never seen it full.

                        Across the street from Citronelle is the very fine Mendocino Grille for California cuisine, which I also recommend. I love the style of the food, menu. Check it out at the link below:

                        www.mendocinodc.com

                        1. re: terpfan101
                          m
                          marcj RE: terpfan101 Feb 7, 2011 06:15 PM

                          I must admit that I'm not sure I understand the idea of something being "too fancy" for a 25-year-old. Maybe too stodgy or old-school, but then I'm not sure why 1789 is on your list. At any rate, it sounds below like you're considering waiting a bit and trying CityZen or Citronelle. These are both excellent options, but if you want a less formal environment and are willing to go over $250 (as either of those places will pretty much require, unless you don't order any wine), you should try for Komi.

                          1. re: terpfan101
                            c oliver RE: terpfan101 Feb 15, 2011 09:40 PM

                            We had the "faux gras" at Central and I think it's the best thing I've ever eaten. We had Thanksgiving dinner at 701 and it was fantastic.

                          2. e
                            Elyssa RE: terpfan101 Feb 7, 2011 10:24 AM

                            What a great boss!! I think Bibianna is a good choice. Central is great but I would only go if you are looking for a more lively (read: sometimes loud) environment. Same goes for Rasika.

                            If you are looking for more high end I would seriously consider Equinox. I just had an outstanding dinner there on Saturday night. Everything was pure perfection! (If the linguine with razor clams and mushrooms is on the menu, get it!).

                            -----
                            Rasika Restaurant
                            633 D Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004

                            14 Replies
                            1. re: Elyssa
                              t
                              terpfan101 RE: Elyssa Feb 7, 2011 10:31 AM

                              Thanks Elyssa. I've read some more about the lounge at Citronelle and may pass on it since I've read while good, the atmosphere isn't true Citronelle experience. Might pass on Central too for that reason and it seems I could afford to go there another time.

                              I'm thinking maybe I try and wait and go even later in the month to get a table at Citronelle, CityZen et al. Would any of those top restaurants be too fancy for mid 20 somethings?

                              Regarding the offer from the boss, it was the least he could do after we put in an average of 65 hours working a week for 3 weeks straight (including 80 the week of a deadline)! I'll take it though haha.

                              -----
                              CityZen Restaurant
                              1330 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20024

                              Citronelle
                              3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

                              1. re: terpfan101
                                j
                                J_DC RE: terpfan101 Feb 7, 2011 10:38 AM

                                I would not say Citronelle is too fancy for someone in their mid-20's, but it is, however, very formal. I am in my mid-20's and do not love the atmosphere there, finding the atmosphere a little overwhelming (I also was disappointed by the meal - some things were very good, but I much preferred minibar and Komi at similar price ranges and found them far more memorable).

                                I would again encourage you to look into Obelisk if you have not or try to get a reservation at Komi. I believe both those places have an intimate atmosphere that is very comfortable for mid 20's.

                                -----
                                Citronelle
                                3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

                                Komi
                                1509 17th St NW Ste 1, Washington, DC 20036

                                1. re: J_DC
                                  f
                                  foodtrip RE: J_DC Feb 7, 2011 04:51 PM

                                  It would not be possible to dine at Komi for $250 for two people -- it's $135 per person, so you're starting at $270, before wine, tax and tip. Obelisk is a definite possibility.

                                  1. re: foodtrip
                                    j
                                    J_DC RE: foodtrip Feb 7, 2011 04:59 PM

                                    Agreed, but if the OP is considering Citronelle's dining room, then I would think Komi could be in the picture based on price.

                                    -----
                                    Citronelle
                                    3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

                                    Komi
                                    1509 17th St NW Ste 1, Washington, DC 20036

                                2. re: terpfan101
                                  ktmoomau RE: terpfan101 Feb 7, 2011 10:42 AM

                                  No, I probably hit both those places before I was 25 (Marcel's too). I would add the back room at Palena to the list, I forget what their wine list is like and it isn't online, but if you could get a reasonable bottle of wine you would be cool.

                                  Why not just call the place up and see if they think it is doable, they know their menu prices and wine list? Are you basing your reservation knowledge on opentable.com? I find I can normally get into a place easier with a quick call.

                                  -----
                                  Palena
                                  3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

                                  1. re: ktmoomau
                                    g
                                    gregb RE: ktmoomau Feb 8, 2011 06:23 AM

                                    I would second the back room at Palena. The food is outstanding, and pricing will be right in your wheelhouse. Having been very recently, I can say that their wine list is pretty nice...very serviceable with a slew of bottles in the 40-60 range.

                                    -----
                                    Palena
                                    3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

                                    1. re: gregb
                                      e
                                      Elyssa RE: gregb Feb 8, 2011 07:37 AM

                                      Palena is also a great idea.

                                      -----
                                      Palena
                                      3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

                                      1. re: Elyssa
                                        r
                                        Raids RE: Elyssa Feb 15, 2011 11:50 AM

                                        Third the dining room at Palena. *OTOH* when the OP said "too young" for Marcel's, did he mean "I don't know if I want to eat rillettes, sweetbreads, etc."? It would be helpful to know if this is the case.

                                        If that is the case, you could have such an amazing time at Proof with $250. Also, when my husband and I did the tasting menu at Birch and Barley with the beer pairings and the extra cheese course, I think we blew about $250 with tax and tip. My husband - who in no way considers himself a foodie - *loved* it, and beer pairings are really terribly fun. Their sommelier (beer sommelier) was just rated one of the top in the country by, I believe, Food & Wine - first time that has ever happened. And he's always the one who personally walks around to explain his thoughts behind the pairing. It's a great experience - ask for a table in the back room by the kitchen, however. The banquette sucks.

                                  2. re: terpfan101
                                    e
                                    Elyssa RE: terpfan101 Feb 7, 2011 02:15 PM

                                    In my personal opinion, nothing is too "fancy" for any age (unless you are a 10 year old trying to go to Citronelle).

                                    Citronelle is very good. I've never just dined in the lounge though. And I agree with Central. While delicious, I dine there all the time and for far under $250.

                                    -----
                                    Citronelle
                                    3000 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

                                    1. re: terpfan101
                                      hill food RE: terpfan101 Feb 7, 2011 06:34 PM

                                      I have to agree with some of the comments about 'age-appropriate' if you move with confidence, good manners and a light smile on your face and you can go anywhere in DC - any city or village really.

                                      1. re: hill food
                                        j
                                        J_DC RE: hill food Feb 15, 2011 12:19 PM

                                        My comment earlier about places most comfortable for those in our twenties, was not meant that there are places "age-inappropriate" which younger diners should avoid. I have been to all sorts of places in DC and never felt out of place based on age. But, I do think there are certain atmospheres that I and others around my age may prefer. When the mood is right, I do appreciate going to the more formal places in town. However, I typically prefer places that are a tad less formal with equivalent great food and still special occasion destinations. From experience, I believe my preference for such is consistent with many, but not all, in their 20's.

                                        1. re: J_DC
                                          r
                                          Raids RE: J_DC Feb 15, 2011 12:32 PM

                                          Oooh...you think he meant "stodgy."

                                          I haven't been to Palena yet, although I am going very, very soon and am really looking forward to it. Is the dining room "stodgy" like, say, Plume? Or is it lively? It's funny, Proof isn't lively, really, but I wouldn't say that it's stodgy either. It's kind of...sexy, really. Birch and Barley is definitely lively, though.

                                          So, okay, to go back to the OP, of the places I've been, Zengo doesn't have food that is as good as everywhere else on your list, 701 is too stodgy (and probably The Oval Room, also), and Poste is too quiet. My impression of 1789 is that it is like a restaurant version of an old man bar.

                                          So on second thought, I'm voting Proof. Go to Proof. It's romantic but there is a lively bar scene separated by glass. It's perfect for a romantic date for people in their 20s with cash to burn. It's a little dark - you get a handheld light to read the menu. But it's not frilly - definitely sleek. Have the carpaccio. Octopus. Get all small plates and share. Get some Bordeaux for $30/glass or $15/taste. I love that you can get excellent wine by the glass here. And they have great desserts. It'll be a night to remember.

                                          1. re: Raids
                                            ktmoomau RE: Raids Feb 15, 2011 01:32 PM

                                            Palena cafe, extremely lively. Back Room- not stodgy, but not lively. Kind of like a quiet, wonderful secret that is really nice for relaxing and conversing. Not at all Plume like, the decor is very minimal.

                                            -----
                                            Palena
                                            3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

                                            Back Room
                                            580 Ritchie Hwy, Severna Park, MD 21146

                                          2. re: J_DC
                                            hill food RE: J_DC Feb 15, 2011 08:09 PM

                                            J_DC fair enough. I just hope nobody ever feels needlessly intimidated. I get what you're saying, I'd feel vaguely silly going to some hipster bar (but I'd still do it if that's what sounded good).

                                    2. d
                                      dining with doc RE: terpfan101 Feb 14, 2011 06:11 PM

                                      two choices that have not been discussed are 2941 and LeAuberge Chez Francois. 2941 is in Falls Church VA and is one of the prettiest restaurants in the metropolitan DC area. Food is great.
                                      LeAuberge Chez Francois is in Great Falls VA and also is a lovely restaurant with Alsatian/French good. if you go make sure you order a soufle for desert......too good. Both of these places are expensive but within your budget depending on your alcohol consumption and wine prefences. Both are "special occasion" destination places and romantic.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: dining with doc
                                        ktmoomau RE: dining with doc Feb 15, 2011 01:34 PM

                                        No offense, but I just don't think 2941 is worth the price anymore, the food isn't anything special, well prepared- yes, special- no. I am hoping they give the chef, or he gives himself more room to create. It was just a little uninspired.

                                        Haven't been back to L'Auberge since it has been reformatted- taken over by son. Have you been? How is it?

                                        -----
                                        Palena
                                        3529 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008

                                        1. re: ktmoomau
                                          d
                                          dining with doc RE: ktmoomau Feb 16, 2011 02:10 PM

                                          have not been but the kitchen has been run by his son for years and everything I ever hear is that it is the same, still magical

                                      2. e
                                        elledeepea RE: terpfan101 Feb 16, 2011 08:16 AM

                                        *latepass*

                                        Had I read this sooner, I would've recommended Bond 45 (National Harbor) Italian Steakhouse.

                                        Oopsies!

                                        1. t
                                          terpfan101 RE: terpfan101 Feb 28, 2011 08:15 AM

                                          I just wanted to thank everyone for the assistance in helping make my decision. I just went to Marcel's on Saturday night and it was wonderful. I got the 5 course and my girlfriend 3. I was definitely full after all of the food even though it seemed like the portions looked small. I ordered the lobster pappardelle, salmon, boudin blanc, and phyllo wrapped lamb, followed by the special chocolate souffle with hazelnut ice cream for dessert. The lobster pappardelle was phenomenal as were the lamb and salmon. The boudin blanc was just ok. It was kind of tasty, just not something I'd normally order. But I still am glad I tried it. My girlfriend got a gulf shrimp which was battered and incredible. Had a sort of asian twist to it. She also got the petite filet mignon and a flourless chocolate cake for dessert. All of her choices were incredible as well. We were also offered a mushroom consumme to start which was great and I usually hate mushrooms. They also brought out petite fours after dessert.

                                          Service was excellent. Our waitress was very friendly and helpful. Water was refilled promptly and the table was always kept clear between courses. We ended up only getting three glasses of wine total. The total bill with 20% tip was $265. So definitely pricey but I'm glad I chose Marcel's instead of somewhere else and will have to try the other places on my own.

                                          I told my girlfriend afterwards that I thought the food was great and very well presented (like art) and of great quality. When comparing it to my favorite restaurant in DC (or anywhere) Zaytinya, which is much less expensive, I said that the differences were in the higher quality of food, presentation, and the service which was far superior to Zaytinya's service (which is actually quite good). I love the food at Zaytinya and loved the food at Marcel's but the latter was definitely a step above and now joins Zaytinya as my two favorite restaurants.

                                          Thanks again for all of the help!

                                          terpfan101

                                          -----
                                          Marcel's
                                          2401 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, DC 20037

                                          Zaytinya
                                          701 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

                                           
                                           
                                           
                                           
                                           
                                           
                                           
                                           
                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: terpfan101
                                            c oliver RE: terpfan101 Feb 28, 2011 05:35 PM

                                            Thanks for a great review. I wish ALL CHs would followup. Something I've started doing that might be of interest to you is a "dining envelope." I first did this a few years ago for travel and wa amazed how the $$$ mounted up. We're not wealthy people and my husband is very frugal. (That's a compliment to him but makes for a little conflict at times.) So we started putting $10, $20, whatever in an envelope whenever we felt like it. When we visited DC in Nov. 2010, we had enough money there to practically pay for the meals that *I* wanted without getting him out of his comfort zone. Win-win.

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