B-day dinner for older mom, near American University/MacArthur Blvd
Mom is going to be 90 (!) and loves good food. We would like to celebrate such a landmark b-day....and not spend our entire house payment given the prices in DC restaurants (we are from Philly). Anything in the MacArthur Blvd area that is a tablecloth restaurant but perhaps in a lower price range than Black Salt? Thanks so much!
There are two Belgian restaurants, one across the street from the other. Et Voila gets all the glory but to my mind, the moules frites are actually better at Sur La Place. The old Kemble Park Tavern has been reincarnated as Salt and Pepper. We went when it first opened and they had a lot of problems. They then re-vamped the menu and hired a new chef. I'm still not hearing good things about it.
Have you considered Praline, just off MacArthur in the shopping center on Sangamore? Downstairs it is a bakery and cafe but upstairs there is a full, traditional French menu. The place is slightly on the shabby side, but not really too bad. The good is great.
A little bit up the river, you've got the Irish Inn at Glen Echo. The pub grub is good. I've never been impressed by the food in the dining room but the atmosphere is what you seek and I bet your mother would like it.
A place that no one seems to know about is DeCarlo's, behind the AU law school. It is apparently quite nice in terms of decor, it caters to the older crowd, and people say good things about the food. Red-sauce Italian, slow service are apparently what you can expect.
Near AU, you've got Chef Geoff's. Just OK, though a big menu. And directly across the plaza, the vaunted Al Dente, where the chef is none other than the fabled Roberto Donna. I was not impressed. Three different dishes, none of them very good. Also very casual, not a tablecloth kind of place. Lots of kids, very noisy.
Sorry - I could be wrong but I've looked at the menu several times when trying to find an old-fashioned red-sauce restaurant for my mother. When I see things like baked penne with meatballs, sausage, parmesan (yes, spelled that way), and mozzarella or linguine alla Bolognese (yes, I know where Bologna is), ravioli with veal, and the old veal parm, I think southern Italy. I grew up in an area that was full of traditional Italian restaurants, well before northern Italian became known and popular, and this is the kind of stuff they served. I don't claim to be an expert.