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Fine dining and a romantic resaurant in DuPont Circle area

FoodieandHusband Jan 9, 2013 12:03 PM

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. t
    Teddybear RE: FoodieandHusband Jan 9, 2013 12:13 PM

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

    1 Reply
    1. re: Teddybear
      FoodieandHusband RE: Teddybear Jan 9, 2013 12:24 PM

      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.

    2. d
      dining with doc RE: FoodieandHusband Jan 9, 2013 02:02 PM

      komi if you can get a reservation

      2 Replies
      1. re: dining with doc
        FoodieandHusband RE: dining with doc Jan 9, 2013 06:31 PM

        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
          DCFlyer RE: FoodieandHusband Jan 9, 2013 06:54 PM

          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. s
        Steve RE: FoodieandHusband Jan 9, 2013 06:03 PM

        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
          FoodieandHusband RE: Steve Jan 9, 2013 06:18 PM

          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
            Steve RE: FoodieandHusband Jan 9, 2013 08:48 PM

            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
              FoodieandHusband RE: Steve Jan 9, 2013 09:26 PM

              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
                Steve RE: FoodieandHusband Jan 11, 2013 08:30 AM

                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
                  lucy35 RE: FoodieandHusband Jan 25, 2014 05:40 PM

                  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. d
            DCFlyer RE: FoodieandHusband Jan 9, 2013 06:35 PM

            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
              FoodieandHusband RE: DCFlyer Jan 9, 2013 08:52 PM

              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
                DCFlyer RE: FoodieandHusband Jan 10, 2013 09:48 AM

                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
                  hill food RE: DCFlyer Jan 10, 2013 03:03 PM

                  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
                    FoodieandHusband RE: hill food Jan 10, 2013 04:05 PM

                    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. ipsedixit RE: FoodieandHusband Jan 9, 2013 07:04 PM

              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
                FoodieandHusband RE: ipsedixit Jan 9, 2013 09:00 PM

                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
                  Worldwide Diner RE: FoodieandHusband Jan 14, 2013 03:05 PM

                  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.

              2. d
                drewpbalzac RE: FoodieandHusband Jan 10, 2013 03:42 AM

                As an FYI cabs are plentiful and relatively cheap if you don't venture across the river in one.

                Not that you don't have a couple of fine choices on your list, but if another restaurant in the city strikes you fancy it will not be hard to get to.

                1. Delucacheesemonger RE: FoodieandHusband Jan 11, 2013 08:46 AM

                  If you are staying in the neighborhood, Komi was great, bill was $400 including tax/tip. We brought our own wine. If not needing to stay in neighborhood, listen to Steve and go to Rogue 24

                  1. d
                    dinwiddie RE: FoodieandHusband Jan 14, 2013 02:25 PM

                    The day after Valentine's day maybe a bit easier, but Komi is a very difficult reservation to get. Great food however,..

                    If you are looking for romantic Tabard Inn is quite good for that - nice lounge with a fireplace, couches and stuffed chairs, quiet and cozy. Pretty good drinks and food too. However, as you noted, it is probably better for brunch than for a romantic dinner, especially since it is a little cold to be out on the patio.

                    If you or your wife is a chocoholic, you need to at least have dessert at Co Co. Sala. Easy trip on the METRO, just a couple of blocks from Gallery Place on the Red Line.

                    Plume is expensive, very fancy, and you would fit right in dressed to the nines.

                    Other places I'd suggest you think about are The Source, Wolfgang Pucks place at 575 Pennsylvania Ave., NW or Fiola, 601 Pennsylvania Ave., NW. Both are easy to get to on METRO near the Archives stop on the Yellow line. Both are also very good and polished.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: dinwiddie
                      hill food RE: dinwiddie Jan 14, 2013 05:26 PM

                      another side note re: DC dress codes.

                      DC is a fairly formal place while not evening wear, it's difficult to over-dress at most places. casual is usually welcome, but you'll almost never feel out of place in a jacket and tie (unless you're behind a dumpster sucking down chili dogs chased with a beer in a bag).

                    2. d
                      DCDOLL RE: FoodieandHusband Jan 15, 2013 07:03 AM

                      My suggestion is Obelisk, hands down. It's fixed price so you won't get a surprise (75 pp now i think) 5 course N. italian meal, what's fresh at market that day so no website/planning ahead. Really great Italian wine list with surprisingly small mark up. Very small and intimate and nice casual is appropriate (sweater and slacks or jacket, no tie). She could wear nice slacks or a dress. The quality is second to none, service good but not fawning. No music or other major "mood" makers, just a delicious memorable meal. If you want major romance i'd say take a cab to 1789 in Georgetown which has it all...the food, atmosphere, and waiters in tuxes. You: jacket, her: dress. Either one is great.

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