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Birthday dinner 10 adults 6 kids nice but non-foodie

KeithW Aug 30, 2012 09:37 AM

If anyone can help with suggestions I would greatly appreciate it!

I am planning a special dinner on a Saturday in November for family. This is a group of 16: 10 adults and 6 kids age 6-12. We have to accommodate the guests of honor’s tastes primarily, so this is not a request for a foodie destination (unfortunately). Here’s what we are looking for, roughly in priority order: (note: Great American Restaurants would be great but they cannot give us a reservation and guarantee we are seated together at dinner time)

1. A place that will take a reservation and can accommodate our group at a single table or two tables right next two each other in a semi-private room or area slightly set apart so we don’t bother other guests.

2. A menu good for non-adventurous eaters with a good variety such as steaks, crab cakes, shrimp, etc. OR non-adventurous Italian food (pastas, pizzas, meat/seafood entrees) OR seafood would also be fine

3. A nice environment with some background noise (not too quiet)

4. Good service, especially nice service (not rude)

5. A couple of steps is OK but not a full flight of stairs (thereby eliminating the nice group table on the 2nd floor or Virtue Feed and Grain)

6. Something in Northern VA or DC – within approximately 30 minutes of Fairfax/Burke/Springfield

Places we have considered: Founding Farmers (still under consideration), PassionFish (still under consideration, maybe not good for kids), Great American Restaurants (can’t accommodate us), Carmines (worried about the poor/rude service noted by reviewers), Rays to the Third (maybe environment not quite nice enough plus they haven’t returned my phone call), several others not worth mentioning

Thanks for any help you can provide.

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  1. k
    katecm RE: KeithW Aug 30, 2012 10:08 AM

    Carmine's in Penn Quarter might be just the ticket. It won't knock your socks off, but it's reliably tasty and family style.

    3 Replies
    1. re: katecm
      woodleyparkhound RE: katecm Aug 30, 2012 10:29 AM

      I second Carmine's. I liked their cocktails and the bartender was great. I haven't had a problem with rude service there.

      1. re: woodleyparkhound
        dining with doc RE: woodleyparkhound Aug 30, 2012 05:58 PM

        Also liked Carmine's. Food was good and it's fun.

      2. re: katecm
        crackers RE: katecm Sep 3, 2012 06:33 AM

        Carmines did well for our large group. Service was fine. But the house wines were not.

      3. j
        Jeserf RE: KeithW Aug 30, 2012 05:30 PM

        Have you thought about Chef Geoffs?
        Old Ebbitt?
        Hamilton would definitely be able to accommodate a group your size

        1 Reply
        1. re: Jeserf
          allicam RE: Jeserf Aug 30, 2012 07:36 PM

          Chef Geoff's was accomodating for our group of 10 last year. We were all at one table.
          As for Passionfish, not sure how large their tables would be but I have seen many families with children there. There is at least one private room that I noticed.
          What about Il Forniao for italian?

        2. k
          KeithW RE: KeithW Aug 30, 2012 08:02 PM

          Great suggestions so far, thank you! We will look at all of the above. Hamilton is especially interesting, but all of the suggestions deserve further investigation. Glad to hear that people have had good experiences at Carmine's.

          Passion Fish is out. For a Saturday night, the largest party in the standard dining room is 12, and the private room has a $2000 minimum tab, which is above our budget (I mean, even if we have the splurge of a lifetime, the 6 kids just can't eat & drink that much!)

          Founding Farmers is out. The largest party they can seat "at one table" is 14, according to their email reply. They didn't suggest any other options.

          Any further advice still appreciated, thanks.

          3 Replies
          1. re: KeithW
            Jeserf RE: KeithW Aug 31, 2012 04:52 AM

            Definitely try Hamilton.

            The food was decent when I was there (shortly after they opened) and the space is seriously huge. And also convenient if you have people metroing in.

            1. re: KeithW
              chowser RE: KeithW Sep 1, 2012 05:51 AM

              Try Walkers Grille. It's similar to GAR but smaller place and can accommodate reservations. It's one of my favorite new places. It's in Springfield near the INOVA.


              There's also Pane Vino in Lorton. They have a private room.

              1. re: KeithW
                allicam RE: KeithW Sep 1, 2012 02:26 PM

                Part of the Clyde's group, how about Willow Creek?

              2. f
                ForFoodsSake RE: KeithW Sep 1, 2012 05:09 PM

                Clyde's at Willow Creek in Ashburn might be a good option for you. Another thought is Trummer's on Main -- it's a little more "adventurous" in that they seem to be into using foams and powders and other trendy food tricks, but good for the non-adventurous crowd since they use cuts of meat, etc. that are easily recognizable and familiar (though, might not be the best environment for young kids). Zefirelli in Herndon may also be an option -- good italian food!

                1. r
                  rHairing RE: KeithW Sep 1, 2012 05:51 PM

                  All of my suggestions are posted so I'll throw in Maggianos in Tyson's Corner.

                  1. e
                    Elyssa RE: KeithW Sep 5, 2012 08:46 AM

                    I would go to the Hamilton. I've dined there several times and really feel it's one of those places that could fit everyone's tastes. The service has always been very good, they accept reservations and are good with kids (I dined once with a 1 year old. They brought his food out right away so he wouldn't fuss). I also have always enjoyed the food I have ordered (the turkey burger is really good).

                    It can get pretty noisy but there are a bunch of different rooms and I have found the one farthest back away from the bar has plenty of background noise but you don't feel like you are yelling at your dining companions.

                    1. k
                      KeithW RE: KeithW Sep 12, 2012 06:06 AM

                      Thanks everyone for all your help. We ended up making a reservation at Hamilton -- not a semi-private room but we were able to select a section of the restaurant, although they couldn't guarantee we would be there. They could only take us early or late, so I picked 5:45, the latest early time they would allow. They were very nice.

                      The recommendation for Trummers was a good one, and if it were my party that's where I would want it to be. The staff there was very nice and willing to try to accomodate us. But we needed a more expansive and varied menu for our group.

                      Final note: I discovered that many places have kids menus that they don't show on their Web sites, and the choices are usually pretty good for the 6 - 10 age group.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: KeithW
                        hill food RE: KeithW Sep 13, 2012 12:24 AM

                        many kitchens with an advance heads-up are cool about kids meals/pacing. (yeah good luck at Rogue, Mini or Komi!)

                        for others in this situation (except for the staircase issue), Ardeo's upstairs room is quiet but not too quiet can handle a large group and the menu easily accommodates dietary issues.

                      2. k
                        KeithW RE: KeithW Nov 29, 2012 08:22 PM

                        Reporting back on this, we went to The Hamilton and it was a great choice for the occasion. I can't say too much about the food because I was mostly focused on the social aspect. My hangar steak was good, service was good. I would happily go back under similar circumstances. I was most surprised that it wasn't too loud, we could have conversations with no problem. Thanks everyone for the advice.

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