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Mar 18, 2011 09:05 AM

Marvin - how's the ambiance?

I'm a Brooklyner visiting DC and looking to take my DC friends to a restaurant that has excellent food with the cozy, casually-cool hipster-type yet still upscale vibe of so many restaurants we have here in my beloved borough (for those of you who familar with Brooklyn, think Dressler, Chestnut and Buttermilk Channel). We definitely need to be able to have a relaxing conversation, so anywhere where we need to yell or where waitstaff is running around.

I've heard Marvin could fit the bill -- any thoughts? Any other recommendations?

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  1. Marvin on a weekend is going to be loud, loud loud.

    I've heard good things so far about the Atlas Room on H Street NE.

    1. Yeah, I'd pick somewhere other than Marvin. Atlas Room is a good suggestion. I really like the ambiance of the top floor at Tabaq with the retractable roof, but I've heard mixed things about food/service. It's the right vibe though.

      1. bar pilar and saint ex are both down the street from marvin and are pretty cool. smith commons over on H st might work as well, havent been there yet. oh! American Ice Company! really good bbq and drinks out of a mason jar and all those cute kitchy hipster things.

        1. Marvin: Tables very tight together. Hard to tell who is sitting with whom.

          "Excellent" is a hard standard to reach and doesn't fit places I know as a blanket statement.

          Many casual-cool hipster places are loud. Very loud. That's the new restaurant design philosophy. Birch and Barley is not so loud; some of the food is very good.

          It sounds like to me that you'll be disappointed wherever you go as I'm not sure there's any place that fits the bill exactly.

          Birch and Barley
          1337 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005

          1 Reply
          1. re: Steve

            Birch and Barley seems like a pretty good choice. Definitely hits the casual / hipster mark and while always busy, is not nearly as loud as comparable places. Even better if you can get one of their large, six-person booths.

          2. how about Granville Moore's on H street?

            4 Replies
            1. re: iatethesandbox

              If moules and frites with an excellent Belgian beer list sounds good to you, Granville Moore's is the place to go! I especially like the mushroom moules, and I love the hipster ambience.

              1. re: woodleyparkhound

                Thanks. The problem with a lot of these places is that they seem likely to be pretty loud. I'm definitely looking for something more on the classy, upscale side. Seems like this is an oxymoron in DC.

                I'm pretty familiar with the DC food scene (at least as of about 2007, I know much has changed!), and it seems like there is a lack of places with great food that fall somewhere between stuffy/formal/downtown power lunch and super casual. The only places I can think of with great food that aren't really stuffy are places like Zatinya, Jaleo etc. that have that "trendy" Sex and the City Vibe that was so popular in NYC about 10 years ago but that have really fallen by the wayside here.

                Smith Commons looks like it might be the right place. Anyone have any experiences with the food?

                1. re: waffles199

                  Oops... Granville Moore's missed the mark. It is definitely not classy and upscale!

                  Central maybe? Great food, mid-range, "more on the classy, upscale side" ... it can get loud though.

                  1. re: waffles199

                    How about Estadio? Amazing food. Upscale, but not formal. Not too loud, I don't think.