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Please help me decide where to go for elegant, yet fun foodie dinner Washington DC between these restaurants:

Primitive001 Sep 11, 2012 08:39 AM

We are in Washington DC in October for a weekend, staying near the White House. We are foodies from Toronto, who also like a place with lots of atmosphere. I've been combing the Chowhound boards and have come up with these places:

Blue Duck tavern

Do these sound about right, and if you only had two nights, which two would you choose? Thank you!!

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  1. j
    Just Visiting RE: Primitive001 Sep 11, 2012 09:11 AM

    They are very different. If you like long, multi-course dinners with very little choice, i.e., a tasting menu type of thing, at $135 per person and wine pairings at $70 per person, then Komi should stay on your list. Central is far more casual, has a vibrancy and buzz to it, and a full menu. I haven't been to Bibiana so I can't comment. Blue Duck Tavern I would describe as cozy and warm. Hope that helps. I don't want to make your life more difficult, but I would add CityZen to the list of candidates and would likely choose it. It is elegant but not in a stuffy way and the food is transcendent.

    1. r
      rappel75 RE: Primitive001 Sep 11, 2012 12:03 PM

      I would recommend Komi (if you can get in). It different from most of the fine dining you will experience in the U.S. Central would be a nice offset to Komi. Very fun, lively feel with great bistro type food.

      1 Reply
      1. re: rappel75
        Primitive001 RE: rappel75 Sep 12, 2012 09:24 AM

        Wow, thanks!! I tried to get into Cityzen, but its only taking very late and very early bookings. have booked at Blue Duck and Central. Thanks again,

      2. d
        dinwiddie RE: Primitive001 Sep 11, 2012 12:49 PM

        Boy, talk about different types of places. Like others have said, if you can get in, Komi is the way to go, but if you don't have a reservation already, you aren't likely to get one for a weekend in October.

        Central is more casual, good food, but not "special" like Komi is. Oya has good food but can be pretty busy and loud. Blue Duck Tavern is a good choice, very good food and service.

        One restaurant I'd suggest you consider is Palena. I consider it one of the best restaurants in DC (the back room, not the Cafe, although the Cafe is fantastic for what it is.) Innovative cooking, good service, and a quiet elegance. Other places to consider that are not on your list are Adour, CityZen, Corduroy, Fiola, The Oval Room,Rasika, and Rogue 24

        If you are a "foodie" the strength of the DC dining scene is its ethnic diversity. Great Ethiopian restaurants,

        8 Replies
        1. re: dinwiddie
          Primitive001 RE: dinwiddie Sep 12, 2012 09:23 AM

          Hi: i checked Palena, but it didn't get very good reviews on trip advisor, made me a little nervous. We've booked at Blue Duck tavern and Central. Fingers crossed. Thanks for your recommendations.

          1. re: Primitive001
            Pappy RE: Primitive001 Sep 13, 2012 07:45 AM

            Blue Duck and Central are pretty different places.

            Blue Duck is a bit more formal, more sedate. The room is broken up, Shaker furniture that is not too inviting, and being it's in a hotel, it does seem a bit less local. Staff is a bit rigid. Some of the dishes are served to share, and I find that a little awkward.

            Central is a busy, bustling place. Quite loud. A little younger, city-ish audience. A little more casual. Better for a group I think. A wider variety of menu choices, from fried chicken to lobster burgers. Seems like it would be a little more in keeping with what you are after.

            RE: Rasika...I would categorize it as and Indian restaurant for people who don't like Indian food. It does have a bit of a "scene" about it, with a reasonable large bar area. But other than that, I don't get it.

            1. re: Pappy
              Primitive001 RE: Pappy Sep 13, 2012 08:45 AM

              How about Fiola versus the blue duck?

              1. re: Primitive001
                Pappy RE: Primitive001 Sep 14, 2012 06:06 AM

                Fiola is a hot ticket right now. They are turning tables on weekdays, unusual in DC. Fabio is an awesome chef, and his wife runs the front of the house. The dining room is classy, but loud. Lots of see and be seen right now. The tables in the front by the bar open up to the wide sidewalk, for a before or after drink, perfect this time of year.

                But so you know...it is definitely Italian and it is definitely expensive.

                1. re: Pappy
                  Primitive001 RE: Pappy Sep 14, 2012 08:28 AM

                  Would you choose Fiola over the Blue Duck Tavern? We want some place with amazing food (obviously), but atmosphere too...

                  1. re: Primitive001
                    Pappy RE: Primitive001 Sep 14, 2012 09:09 AM

                    Absolutely I would choose Fiola. I can't imagine anyone has ever used the word "fun" to describe Blue Duck. And do Central the next night. Or even Brasserie Beck would be a good idea. Both of those have a good atmosphere, broader menus, and won't hit your wallet quite as hard.

              2. re: Pappy
                c oliver RE: Pappy Sep 13, 2012 09:35 AM

                We LOVED everything about Rasika, esp. the food.

                1. re: c oliver
                  Pappy RE: c oliver Sep 14, 2012 06:05 AM

                  Good for you.

          2. s
            susabella RE: Primitive001 Sep 11, 2012 07:14 PM

            I would also definitely suggest Rasika and Rasika West End, Tabard Inn, Fiola. Komi is a little austere.

            1 Reply
            1. re: susabella
              Primitive001 RE: susabella Sep 12, 2012 09:24 AM


            2. hill food RE: Primitive001 Sep 13, 2012 12:02 AM

              ignore trip advisor, yet you have made good choices, you'll be happy.

              but you are missing out on either Rasika, at least for lunch or a nibble at the bar.

              5 Replies
              1. re: hill food
                Just Visiting RE: hill food Sep 13, 2012 03:53 AM

                Normally I would agree about ignoring TripAdvisor but in this case, being curious, I wanted to see what people had written about Palena. It isn't the kind of place that out-of-towners would normally go unless maybe they are visiting locals. I expected to read things like "too expensive." I was quite surprised. The reviews are detailed and voice legitimate concerns, mostly about poor service. I happen to love Palena and I've never had bad service. I wonder if this is a recent problem and if so, what is behind it.

                1. re: Just Visiting
                  Primitive001 RE: Just Visiting Sep 13, 2012 06:56 AM

                  I know that's what put me off, that the service was not great, can really ruin a meal. perhaps they have new management??

                2. re: hill food
                  Primitive001 RE: hill food Sep 13, 2012 06:54 AM

                  Hmmmmmm, having second thoughts -- which location?

                  1. re: Primitive001
                    hill food RE: Primitive001 Sep 15, 2012 05:44 PM

                    sorry Poo1 I've been straying, I've only been to the Penn Quarter one, the West End is recent. haven't heard anything negative about it yet. see susabella's comment below.

                    the idea of a grigio or martini or a seltzer and the Palak Chaat for a few minutes is worth pursuing.

                  2. re: hill food
                    Primitive001 RE: hill food Sep 13, 2012 06:54 AM

                    Hmmm, having second thoughts. Which location???

                  3. b
                    bigolpoofter RE: Primitive001 Sep 13, 2012 09:31 AM

                    One place you left off is Restaurant Eve in Old Town Alexandria. If you can squeeze it in, it's worth the trek across the river; and it's more on the par with Komi as a destination dining experience that any of the other restaurants.

                    1. e
                      Elyssa RE: Primitive001 Sep 14, 2012 01:24 PM

                      If I had only 2 nights from your list I would choose Komi and Bibiana. Both excellent and both very, very different experiences of what the DC food scene has to offer.

                      Another place to consider is The Source.

                      1. s
                        sheldman RE: Primitive001 Sep 15, 2012 05:02 AM

                        "like a place with lots of atmosphere"

                        Based on this, I would avoid Komi (even if I could get in). I haven't been for a couple of years so it is possible that something has changed there. But the times I have gone, every aspect of the restaurant other than the food on the plate has been deadly dull, morose or overserious.

                        I may be an outlier in feeling that way - I rarely hear other people say it. On the other hand I never hear people say "Oh Komi what a lovely/fun/interesting/pleasant experience." People like the food, and I understand that.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: sheldman
                          susabella RE: sheldman Sep 15, 2012 06:10 AM

                          Agreed, which is why I said it was austere. It's not a fun lively night out. Also, if you're staying at a hotel for the weekend and you want to get into city zen at an earlier time, your concierge will most likely be able to get you a table. Both Rasikas are great but the penn location is a little more glamorous ,west end is a little more casual.

                          1. re: susabella
                            hill food RE: susabella Oct 2, 2012 12:44 AM

                            good point, concierges often have a restaurant's 'secret number' if it exists.

                        2. m
                          Marty L. RE: Primitive001 Oct 2, 2012 03:33 AM

                          Assuming you have not gotten a reservation at Komi, I would not go to any of these if you're just here for two nights (although I haven't been to Blue Duck, so can't be sure about that). Nothing special about Central or Bibiana, although both are solid.

                          Instead, I'd go to Little Serow and (the bar at) Izakaya Seki. Alas, no reservations at either. For Serow, you need to get in line at 4:45-5:15 or so. The suggestions for Rasika or (especially) Rasika West are very good, too. And every meal I've had at the revamped Jaleo has been great. These all have more "atmosphere" than the ones you've chosen -- and better food, too, I think.

                          1. d
                            dwexelman RE: Primitive001 Aug 19, 2013 12:25 PM

                            we are fellow Canadians from Montreal. leaving tomorrow for 2 nights at the W near the white house. Where did you end up going? Any recommendations? thanks.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: dwexelman
                              Steve RE: dwexelman Aug 19, 2013 12:54 PM

                              Did you read through the recommendations already given? What's wrong with those?

                              1. re: dwexelman
                                Primitive001 RE: dwexelman Aug 19, 2013 01:02 PM

                                Our trip was cancelled! We'll try for next fall. Can YOU tell me where you ended up eating???

                                1. re: dwexelman
                                  wineo1957 RE: dwexelman Aug 20, 2013 06:16 PM

                                  Just to add inn my reply...

                                  Komi very good, very simple, need reservations long in advance. Very austere. I'd rather do omikase at Sushi Taro for the money. But Komi seems to me a do it once type place and the addition of hipster elements like half smokes etc to the menu just leaves me cold.

                                  Blue Duck Tavern has fabulous cooking with lots of meat and things like bone marrow, but I find the food very butter filled and ultimately uninteresting.

                                  Bibiana like a lot of high end, highly rated Italian in Dc is really french food playing like it is Italian. The food is overly rich and buttery. There is a lot of more authentic & creatively authentic Italian in DC to be had.

                                  Oya is a real not favorite. Central serveds a lot of sou vide made by Cuisine Solutions, sysco food and gets a reputation of high end chef cooking. I am not a fan. Expensive for what it is.

                                  1. re: wineo1957
                                    cocobinga RE: wineo1957 Aug 20, 2013 06:46 PM

                                    Agree, and will add that I think Sushi Taro omakase counter is one of the best dining experiences in the area.

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