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Dec 1, 2012 06:56 AM

Suggestions for specific style of restaurant

Hi there,
first time of posting on, but I've been a fan of the site for years: some amazing recipe ideas, with the feedback on whether they actually work or not (unlike some other places...). Anyway, I was wondering whether I might tap your collective knowledge for a restaurant recommendation?
A couple of months back I took some customers and my boss for a meal at a restaurant called "La Tupina" in Bordeaux, France (details here: It serves very traditional food South-West French food, with an emphasis slow cooked meat, poultry roast over an open fire that can be heard and smelled around the entire place, fries cooked in animal fat, good local wines... It is in the older part of town, been around for 40 years, and is probably best described as cozy. We had a great time.
So good in fact that we are now hosting the same crowd in D.C./Georgetown in mid December, and I have been tasked with repeating the evening. I've been to D.C. a few times and have been running through the lists of places that I might choose, but am coming up short. I can find plenty of places that serve good meat; plenty that are cozy; plenty that are older and more traditional. But nothing that brings all of these together. I'm not looking for a French place in the US, rather a US equivalent to LT.
Does anyone have any suggestions they'd care to share?
Many thanks,

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  1. As for open fire, I can't think of any places in DC that do that. Otherwise, if you want to drive, is the Ashby Inn probably fits the bill.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Just Visiting

      Thanks for the suggestion, but I don't think the drive out is going to go down very well - we're staying in downtown DC (a couple of blocks from the White House).
      If we ignore the open fire, are there any options in DC/Georgetown?
      Thanks again.

    2. My first thought was Blue Duck, but it's not cozy. Then I thought of Restaurant Eve, which is cozy but not meat-oriented.

      Then I thought of Tilth, which would probably be perfect but is in Seattle. We need a Tilth equivalent. This is a really hard set of criteria to meet!

      12 Replies
      1. re: reiflame

        Thanks for the thought Reiflame, but indeed Seattle is a little far to go for dinner from DC!
        I'm sorry to have set such a tough request - I'm normally quite self-sufficient when it comes to places to eat, but I am truly stumped here.
        If I adjust expectations: somewhere in DC/Georgetown that serves good meat and is cosy as opposed to a "see and be seen" sort of place?
        Thank you all for your patience with this!

        1. re: richardmp

          How many people? Are you willing to take cabs? Maybe a private room at Adour? And if you talk to them in advance, perhaps they can tailor them menu. Though I have to say that there are things on that menu that make me want to book a table right now!

          1. re: Just Visiting

            Thanks JV. There'll be between 6 and 10 of us. Taking cabs is doable, and Adour (private room or not) would be a good idea, but Ducasse doesn't really hit the buttons for cozy.
            Sorry, I know I'm being particularly difficult, but so far I've had all my main choices (Adour was on the list, as was Blue Duck) turned down... I'm tempted to take everyone to Ray's Hellburger!

              1. re: richardmp

                The closest analog I can think of in DC would be Little Fountain Cafe-- very cozy and easy to overlook, but I've always enjoyed my meals there (although I admit I haven't been in a couple of years and it's not particularly meat oriented).

                I think you might have to loosen one of your constraints. One possibility would be to go with a French place like La Chaumiere (which last I checked had a working fireplace) or Bistro D'Oc.

                1. re: Doh

                  Graydon: Westend Bistro makes it to the shortlist, but I think it may not pass the "cosy" test
                  Doh: La Chaumiere looks like it could be the place to go - have asked someone to go take a look for me.

                  For my own curiosity now, is there an equivalent to the above that specialises in US food rather than French?

                  Thanks again for the help,

                  1. re: richardmp

                    Years ago, I would have recommended Taberna del Alabardero. This restaurant followed the European model in that the table was yours for the night. My husband and I used to do a lot of socializing there. Unfortunately, the food is no longer excellent, other than the tapas at the counter, so I cannot recommend it.

                    2941 has a small private room off the main dining room that could hold a group your size and provide a cozy experience. The restaurant went through a re-do about a year ago, simplifying the menu and lowering prices. Seemingly, most patrons missed the original concept and the menu has undergone yet another make-over. Over the past 12 months, the restaurant has gradually returned to choices closer to the previous style of cooking and I can recommend the food enthusiastically. Still, the main dining room is sleek rather than cozy.

                    I've never been to Corduroy, but I get the sense that it would be cozy since it is located in a townhouse which suggests to me that the rooms will be smaller. 1789 is cozy, especially if you can snag a table at one of the rooms with the fireplace. I don't know what the food is like under the current chef.

                    Obelisk is a cozy place, but I'm in the minority in my indifference to the cooking. The meal starts off memorably with the antipasti but never finishes quite as strong. I've never had a great secundo there.

                    Generally, I don't think US restaurants value cozy. I think they value sleek style, buzz, and bravura cooking. Your group certainly doesn't want to have your evening interrupted repeatedly by servers who offer instructions about how to eat the food you're being served or recite the pedigree of every ingredient that comes to the table.

                    1. re: Indy 67

                      Indy - thanks for these. Taberna looks like a nice place, but tapas aren't going to cut it. Also, I was born and brought up in Spain, so I'm very familiar with Spanish cuisine, and tend to get upset when it's not as good I expect it to be!! I'll look into the others, they seem to be very interesting options.
                      I understand what you mean with valuing cozy, and you are exactly right: over attentive service and dishes that require doctoral theses to describe are not the idea :-)

                      1. re: richardmp

                        FYI: Taberna is not a tapas restaurant, although a small list of tapas is available at the bar.

                        1. re: Steve

                          Sure, I understand. I was just going on what Indy said about the food no longer being excellent...

                      2. re: Indy 67

                        I really liked Obelisk when I went, and the room is definitely cozy. That actually might fit your bill. I will agree that the dessert course when I went wasn't the highlight of the meal.

                        Corduroy is excellent but I wouldn't call it cozy - the room is very sleek and modern. Plus, it doesn't really have the focus on meat that she's looking for.

                        1. re: reiflame

                          The OP will have to weigh in on whether he wants Provencal chintz cozy or smaller rooms with reasonably normal height ceilings -- even if the decor is modern. Two very, very different vibes but both meet my definition of cozy.

                          If the group were only four, the absolute perfect place would be the table inside the pergola in Marcel's. Delicious food. Impeccable-but-unobtrusive service. And that cozy pergola!

          2. Tabard Inn has a beautiful fireplace and a cozy feel, especially in the small upstairs rooms. Check it out.

            1. I have never been, and so only pass this on based on others' experiences, but people seem to like the Tabard Inn:

              Sorry, did not see the above!

              1. I think Chintz might be a step too far. Definition of cozy, while not exact, is more along the lines of warm colours, gentle buzz as opposed to raucous noise or stony silence. As it extends to the food, the point would be not to need a doctoral thesis to understand the dish and the provenance of each ingredient. Smaller rooms without the modern decor, regardless of ceiling height are fine; large, open rooms where diners are "exposed" (call it see and be seen) are not fine.
                If the people I was with were OK with sea food, I'd be booking at Sea Catch.
                Thanks for the suggestion of the Tabbard Inn, will have to explore that one too!