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Restaurant Nora vs. Bistro du Coin for client dinner of 15?

We're staying at Washington Hilton on Connecticut and need a decent place in very close walking distance to take clients for a fun dinner where we can still converse. We've found these two places almost out of default. Nora has private rooms and menus they'll set for us, Bistro du Coin promised their upstairs area but possibly with other tables and open to the dining room downstairs.

Can anyone comment on which would be best for a somewhat laid back client dinner - you know, unfortunately generic enough for anyone to enjoy, food, noise, etc.? And yes, I know DC has much better to offer but with needing a 5 minute walk and not interested in Ruth's Chris these seem to be our options since they don't want to worry about wrangling 10 clients across DuPont Circle.

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  1. Nora over BdC.

    Also consider Mourayo.

    2 Replies
    1. re: DanielK

      Mourayo is a great idea. Do they have a private room?

      1. re: Elyssa

        I don't think it's a door-closed private room, but they have a segregated dining room.

    2. One of DC restaurant critics -- I think it was Sietsema writing in his Wednesday chat -- wrote that Restaurant Nora's kitchen is performing at a level which recalls its early glory days.

      1. I don't know what the noise level of BdC is upstairs, but nobody would do this downstairs, and the upstairs is completely open, like a large balcony.

        The closest is Banana Leaves, which recently reopened after a lengthy post-fire renovation.

        http://www.mybananaleaves.com/BLMenus...

        One of my favorites in DC is Locolat, a tiny super-casual Belgian spot. You'd fill up the whole place. But it is about a 7 minute walk, 2 minutes longer than Nora. Is that too far? I could make specific recs....

        1. Absolutely Nora. The DC trendiness has passed it by at the moment, but it remains top notch, and being bypassed by the trendy crowd means the atmosphere will be better for your purpose.

          1. Even upstairs, Bistro Du Coin is very loud. I'd pick Nora for the type of dinner you are talking about. If it was a dinner for a bunch of college buddies or drinking buddies, Bistro, clients, Nora.

            1. These are 2 very different restaruants. I would personally go with Nora. Bistro du Coin, while a good place to dine, can get very, very loud on a busy night and I'm not sure if that works for a client dinner.

              Perhaps a little more than a 5 minute walk (perhaps closer to 10-12), but you might want to also look at Hank's Oyster Bar. They now have a private room which would be perfect for this situation.

              Also Cafe Dupont might work as well (they also have a private room).

              1. Thanks for the feedback all! Sounds like Nora is the best choice. The room they have available seems really nice for events, and their special events person has been very responsive - and since i'm organizing from Phoenix that's very nice

                Mourayo looks really good to me but I don't know if it's safe enough. The menu looks tame but people hear Greek and think its exotic or something. I actually ate at Cafe DuPont for a previous conference and enjoyed it. I just don't know if we want to ask clients to walk that far (not that it's far for me but with a group of varying ages in business attire).

                2 Replies
                1. re: PHXeater

                  I suggested Mourayo to a colleague for a recent event of about the same size/purpose, and they were very happy with it.
                  I had also looked into Darlington House, could be another one to consider.

                  Nora is a good choice (I have attended similar events in the private room, and it is indeed very intimate) but Nora is more expensive - though it doesn't sound like cost is an issue for you.

                  Banana Leaves is too casual (as is Locolat), and also too ethnic for your purposes. Also, the food there is really not that good.

                  1. re: hamster

                    And regarding cost, these are our biggest clients in the company so I haven't been given a budget but know $200/head won't get approval either. With Nora's pricing we're looking at $60-70 for 3 courses.

                    I just called Mourayo and they have $40/person options but you need a minimum of 20 to get their private room or to hit an f&b minimum - not sure what that is yet, still waiting on info.

                2. Thanks again to all for the advice!! Dinner at Restaurant Nora was absolutely impeccable. The events coordinator was so easy to work with and although pricey at $66/person for food the garden room was really great. The black cod was raved over and not one of the 9 or so people left a bite on their plate. Strawberry shortcake dessert was fresh and full of flavor, after a decadent dinner and lots of wine it was a great way to finish off the evening. The scallop ceviche was just ok to me and I found it lacking flavor but the scallops were very fresh. One "meh" dish out of 3 is pretty good too.

                  Overall I came into this dinner planning very apprehensive but couldn't have asked for a better experience. And most importantly, our clients were extremely impressed by the food, room, and service! One of them even told me out of all the dinners she's been taken out to at this event ours was by far the best :)

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: PHXeater

                    First:

                    Thank you for feedback. Too many CH's don't ever get back to us.

                    Second:

                    Glad this worked out as I knew it would. DC has all too much trendy nonsense now, and NORA has been ignored, but it is an underrated gem, and you found out that it is!

                    1. re: PHXeater

                      Glad to hear the dinner went well. I'm actually going to Restaurant Nora for the first time in a few weeks so it's good to hear that it's still a nice place.

                    2. I'm reviving an old thread but we went back to Nora for this year's conference again, and I am blown away by how great they are for events.

                      After originally reserving the wine library for what we thought would be 20 people the list ballooned quickly and the event coordinator, Camilla, called me day of and suggested moving us to a larger room - the Gallery Room. A bit apprehensive as the pictures looked a little too country style for us I agreed to take the larger space. It was great! They reserved the side room for a bar area, private bathrooms, and a private entrance. Our two servers were polite, accommodating, and very professional. The room also was beautiful at night and clients were again very impressed. They provided table numbers, a small table for place cards and were extremely flexible to provide whatever we needed.

                      Now I'm a walking advertisement :) but when a restaurant makes me look this good I feel it's necessary. My bosses were raving about what a good job I did (really the credit goes to Nora's). Great spot for a pricier rehearsal dinner if those requests come up a lot.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: PHXeater

                        Glad to hear it, and thanks for the feedback.