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Jan 9, 2013 12:03 PM

Fine dining and a romantic resaurant in DuPont Circle area

Hey all,

My wife and I are planning a trip to DC in mid February. We will arrive the day after Valentine's day, which is also her birthday, and we are taking this trip as our anniversary gift to one another. So I was hoping to take her out to a really great night out, but I have never been to DC and am a little lost on a few things with the dining around where we are staying at DuPont Circle.

The restaurants that I was considering were:

2100 Prime
Cafe DuPont
Tabard Inn

I have heard that the Tabard Inn and Cafe DuPont may be better for brunch than dinner.

I am really unsure as to what the dress code is for these restaurants (especially at Plume, Komi, Obelisk) and just how expensive of a bill I should expect at most these places. I don't want to be stuck with a big shocker on our big night out so I need to be prepared with enough cash to get anything she wants.

We've done the fine dining in Arkansas but DC is a whole different level in comparisons and i really want to wow my wife. Can anyone give me a comparison of some of these restaurants and especially how I should tell my wife to dress and if I need a jacket and tie as well.

I want to be sure to get reservations so fast replies are appreciated! Thanks everyone!

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  1. Have you googled these resturants and checked their on-line menus?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Teddybear

      I have. My wife and I don't have a preference of Italian, French, or modern American cuisine. We just appreciate good food. As I said we don't have restaurants of the same caliber much in Arkansas and I know some are pricey (75-85 a person for Obelisk and Plume) and even higher at Komi. The menus look amazing from what I have seen online however.

      1. re: dining with doc

        I had a few questions about Komi that hopefully you could help me with. What kind of attire is needed there? Jacket? Tie? What for my wife? Also, what would a bill for two usually be? What is the environment like? Modern or lavish?

        Honestly, I've seen a lot on CH about Komi declining in the past 2 years. Is that true whatsoever?

        Sorry for the overload of questions but I want to find spot for an exceptional night.

        1. re: FoodieandHusband

          See my answer below. I just sent very particular foodie friends there two weeks ago, and they said it was one of the best meals they've had. FWIW (I generally don't put a whole lot of stock in rankings) Washingtonian Magazine put it at the top of their Very Best Restaurants of 2012 list.

          If you can get in, go. You're wife would be fine in a simple dress or nice slacks, and you could go business casual or a jacket (tie probably not needed, though).

      2. How did you come up with this list? Why, if it such a big night, are you limiting yourself to places near your hotel?

        I suggest you do a search on Chowhound using "Anniversary."

        5 Replies
        1. re: Steve

          Since we are coming in from out of town and not renting a car, we are sticking close to our hotel and where the metro takes us and my wife has been to DC multiple times and has always loved the DuPont circle area so it is a favorite area of hers.

          The restaurants are ones I searched out through the Internet and CH. Our style is more towards the historic and traditional settings rather than a sleek modern environment. I wanted a restaurant that would give her a "wow" impression with the surroundings as well as the food. Would you say that the list fits that bill?

          1. re: FoodieandHusband

            Neither Komi nor Tabard Inn are going to 'wow' anyone with the surroundings. I would expect any restaurant in a townhouse (like Obelisk) will also not fit the description.

            The other places on your list get no attention on Chowhound.

            Dupont Circle in general is not the type of area that has 'wow' surroundings anyway, even though it's a great neighborhood to visit or live in. That is why your request seems so odd to me.

            1. re: Steve

              Right. Never having been to DC, I was surprised by the simplicity of the pictures of Komi and others. The only place that really had the look of an upscale restaurant (at least in my own mind's eye) is Plume. But the food may not come near to matching the looks.

              I found a few other options when reviewing results of an anniversary search but nothing that really appealed to me all that much.

              If anyone has a suggestion for a restaurant with excellent food and an elegant, upscale feel then please feel free to add to the list.

              1. re: FoodieandHusband

                I am going to recommend something you haven't asked for: A restaurant that is not in your neighborhood and not fancy. But it has a very exclusive feel to it that makes it a 'wow' experience. It is aptly named because it really is a rogue restaurant.

                Rogue 24 has a chill ambience, two bands of tables surrounding a completely open kitchen. Certainly no jacket or tie required. There is a 16-course menu for $115. After the dinner is over, you will think it a bargain. And it will be a memorable experience.

                There is also the eponymous 24-course meal for $135. If you go, go early and ask for a table right next to the kitchen.

                1. re: FoodieandHusband

                  CityZen might fit your bill. It's located in the Mandarin Oriental and feels elegant. The food is, in my opinion, some of the best in the city, and I've been multiple times to most of the options you mentioned. They do a nice job with anniversaries, too.

          2. I live in the neighborhood. Welcome, and I hope you enjoy your stay. Don't worry that you are staying close the hotel - you've listed some fine restaurants.

            Tabard is fun, in an unusual hotel. However, Obelisk and Komi can really cook. If you can get into Komi, do it. It's one of the best tables in the city. It's prix fixe, $135 for a multi-course dinner. Obelisk is small and the dining room isn't as dramatic, but the food is great. If memory serves, Obelisk is doing a "menu complete" for $75 per guest.

            You'll see a range of dress in many restaurants in DC. No kidding, I was at the opera last year and a guy sat down next to me in shorts and flip-flops. I wouldn't advise that, though. Although you can usually get away with business casual, I would guess that most guys will be wearing a jacket, at least on St. Valentine's day.

            4 Replies
            1. re: DCFlyer

              Thanks DCflyer for all the great info. I will be checking on trying to get reservations at Komi. If it isn't available, I think I am leaning towards Obelisk or Plume for backups and putting 2100 Prime, Cafe DuPont, and Tabard Inn on the brunch or lunch schedule (that is, if they get positive recommendations here). I haven't heard much on Plume. It has an extremely elegant look to what I have seen, but I may be wrong to think that the food can match the looks.

              1. re: FoodieandHusband

                Sure thing. You know, I haven't made it to Plume for dinner yet. Been to the bar for drinks, and have seen the dining room. The kitchen isn't quite in the same class as Komi, but the Jefferson's renovation was really well done and it's a really nice-looking room. It's received some good reviews. I don't think you'd go wrong there, and the decor is more elegant than the typically modernist or industrial, minimalist design ethic shared by most Washington restaurants built in the last two decades.

                You'll need a taxi to get there (and possibly to Komi too, depending on where your hotel is located), but Balzac is correct in that they shouldn't be hard to find.

                As long as a taxi trip is in the picture, I'm going to suggest you also check out 1789, in Georgetown. It's a throwback (in a good way) to fine Continental dining and a traditionally elegant yet comfortable room. If you go there, ask for a table by the fireplace. Also worth consideration in Georgetown is Michel Richard's Citronelle; more modern, yet also elegant.

                1. re: DCFlyer

                  has Citronelle re-opened? I'm out of the loop (so to speak)

                  re the OP's question about dress code, 1789 used to require jackets and ties, but now, IIRC, they are 'preferred'

                  1. re: hill food

                    I checked the Citronelle website and it looks like it will be a close call if they are opened in time for my wife and I to visit. And thank you for the heads up on the 1789 dress code!

            2. Of your list, I would choose either Komi or Obelisk.

              Komi is more romantic than Obelisk, which I would describe as more "cozy" than romantic.

              Food-wise, you can't go wrong with either Komi or Obelisk, but I always feel more excited with the food at Komi.

              Enjoy and happy anniversary.

              2 Replies
              1. re: ipsedixit

                I really appreciate it! I am going to try for the more romantic Komi but will have to see if it is even a possibly to get reservations. Thanks again for the info.

                1. re: FoodieandHusband

                  Also in Dupont and nearly the same caliber as Komi is Eola. It's also located in a townhouse, serves several tastings prior to your choices of entrees, and is much cheaper than Komi. Tell them in advance it's your anniversary and you'll probably get a glass of bubbly comped.