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Blacksalt, Lauberge Chez Francois, BLT or... ?

o
overthinkit Apr 16, 2012 09:47 AM

Every year around this time we take some foodie friends out for a (very nice) dinner. It can be steak, French, or someplace with oysters.
We're willing to pay about $80/person for the food before the wine etc is factored in (i.e. either fixed price menu or app/entree/dessert that adds up to that).
Last year we took them to the Prime Rib and it was terrible. We don't mind paying a lot, but we do mind paying a lot for mediocre food at restaurants that are... ahem... past their prime. We don't want to repeat that disaster.
So far I've come up with the restaurants in the title. My worry about Lauberge is that it might also be past its prime.
Any advice?
Thanks!

  1. k
    katecm Apr 16, 2012 10:22 AM

    Out of those three, Blacksalt is definitely your best bet. I've heard a lot of hit or miss about L'Auberge.

    2 Replies
    1. re: katecm
      z
      Ziv Apr 16, 2012 10:36 AM

      My girlfriend took me to L'Auberge one time and it was a charming experience. The food was very good, the service was attentive but not obtrusive, and the setting is kind of cute. All in all it was a very nice experience. The food wasn't great but it was very good. My girlfriend had the sole and I had the tournedos and they were both delicious. We finished with some sort of glazed torte that was spectacular and I don't usually do deserts.
      I have never been to Black Salt, but I would imagine the food there would be a step above L'Auberge, but again, I have no personal experience with it.

      1. re: Ziv
        o
        overthinkit Apr 16, 2012 10:44 AM

        Thanks! Do either of you have any places that you think would be as good as Blacksalt? We'd like to let our guests pick from a few different options.
        Oh, and Ziv, how long ago did you go to L'Auberge?

    2. d
      dining with doc Apr 16, 2012 02:30 PM

      Have not been in a year but leAuberge chezfrancois has never disappointed and is beautiful this time of year. Last year had a special hunters mixed grill of 4 filet mignons- elk, wild boar, venison and something else all with it's own sauce with fresh veggies.soooooooo goooooood.
      Another choice you failed to mention is 2941 in falls church which is lovely with great food

      1. chowser Apr 16, 2012 03:30 PM

        Unless L'Auberge has changed in the past few years, it was past it prime a long time ago. I thought the service was fine, the food okay at best. I think there are far better restaurants in the area, even if you want French/Alsatian. If you want French and don't mind traveling, there's Bistro L'Hermitage in Woodbridge--often overlooked but the food there is wonderful.

        1. j
          Just Visiting Apr 16, 2012 04:21 PM

          If they really know food and if they like fish and seafood, you are best going to Black Salt which is truly wonderful. The back room has a very relaxing atmosphere.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Just Visiting
            o
            overthinkit Apr 17, 2012 05:04 AM

            Thanks for the great suggestions, guys!
            It looks like Blacksalt is the definite winner...

            1. re: overthinkit
              Dennis S Apr 17, 2012 05:56 AM

              It's been a while now since I've been to BlackSalt, but it's generally one of the two places in the area we go to for a special dinner out. BlackSalt has always done good by us in the service assistance to pick items and match them as well. We've ended up mostly ordering items that were specials this way - and have always been very happy with what we got.

              1. re: Dennis S
                o
                overthinkit Apr 17, 2012 06:02 AM

                Thanks! What's the other place you go to?

                1. re: overthinkit
                  Dennis S Apr 17, 2012 06:59 AM

                  Lightfoot in Leesburg.

            2. re: Just Visiting
              GraydonCarter Apr 17, 2012 07:41 AM

              When they say Black Salt, do they mean a black lava salt or a sulferish Kala Namak?

            3. w
              Worldwide Diner Apr 17, 2012 11:03 AM

              In terms of ambiance, BlackSalt has very little. You might consider going to PassionFish for seafood - I prefer it over BlackSalt.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Worldwide Diner
                j
                Just Visiting Apr 17, 2012 12:29 PM

                I guess ambiance is in the eye of the beholder. When you walk into Black Salt, you walk through the fish store with the cases full of absolutely gorgeous fish. That alone sets the mood, IMHO. These people obviously know fish. There are a few tables in the fish store area and I agree that this area is not all that great. The next room is very nice, quiet, just a few tables. Nothing fancy. It is totally understated and comfortable. Then the back room, which is even more understated, quiet, and relaxing. A very subdued atmosphere.

                I like Passion Fish but it is rather showy by comparison. It has the two levels, the soaring ceilings, lots of glass, blue sparkly stuff, very ocean-liner main dining room feeling.

                1. re: Just Visiting
                  Dennis S Apr 18, 2012 03:27 AM

                  I concur! Blacksalt also has a nice gallery view, but not forced upon you, especially with the glass wall dividing the main room from most of it.

                  I like Passionfish for the food, and that there's a place that nice within a short drive of my house. However, I'd easily make the drive to Blacksalt first, and largely because of the ambiance and general tone of the vibe.

                  1. re: Dennis S
                    chowser Apr 18, 2012 04:44 AM

                    I would go to Passionfish if I were in the area but I wasn't bowled over by the food and Just Visiting hit the nail on the head with the description of it feeling like a ocean liner dining room--well done in an impersonal way. It was all fine but nothing out of the ordinary, no wow moments.

                    1. re: chowser
                      Dennis S Apr 18, 2012 08:28 AM

                      Which is why, for the money, I'd rather drive to Blacksalt. In general I'm not a fan of Town Center anyway. Instant City, just add water. PassionFish is (imo) easily the best, but I think your ocean liner description is right on.

                      Edit: And I always feel I get very attentive service at Blacksalt.

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