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    Washington, DC
  1. Have you tried it? It's not clear from your comments. Maybe it really is notable for not having institutional catering. I would applaud any snapshot of DC that includes Mitsitam. Not the best food in DC by far but certainly extremely useful and quite notable.
  2. I too recommend Christmas at Corduroy. I have gone in years past with family, and it has been a complete hit with everyone! If I were not to be out of town this year, I would definitely be dining there.
  3. I too have driven to Fredricksburg for the sole pleasure of custard. That is some good custard!
  4. I found the sushi at Sushi Aoi to be inedible, and I really wanted to like it as I live closeby.
  5. Zaytinya, Jaleo, Cafe Atlantico, Poste, Ginger Cove, Teaism, and Ella's are all good choices. Skip La Tasca. If you want sushi, please take the metro a couple of stops and go to Kaz Sushi Bistro. Do not go to Sushi Aoi; the sushi is inedible.
  6. Hmmmm. After two visits in the way past, I've never seemed to have a problem resisting La Tasca. ← ← I tried the Sangrias at the Young, Hot and Cooking event about a month ago, and found them to be a very sad complement to the amazing food at the event.
  7. I finally tried out Cityzen last Friday. Overall, I was impressed but disappointed. I had the 6 course tasting menu with wine pairing. Two others at my table had the same. One other had the three course menu with the wines suggested by the sommelier. The food was excellent. Some of it was outstanding. In particular, the foie gras with black plum soup and the cheese course were amazing! The other courses, and amuse bouche etc., were perfectly executed with dynamic flavors also. I do not have a single complaint about the food. The service was generally good, but way too uneven for this price point. The waitstaff was well-trained and very knowledgeable. But, they did not explain the dishes. When ordering a $110 (or $120, I forgot exactly) tasting menu, I expect that the waitstaff will tell me what they are serving. I do not think that it is up to the patron to memorize the entire menu. I wanted to know what I was eating, and they would not tell me. For instance, when the first amuse came, there were different amuses for the tasting menu and for the person that had not ordered the tasting menu. The only way that we would know that (before tasting, of course) is because they were different colors. They were served, and then the service was gone. So, I flagged down someone to explain. And, they graciously and knowledgably did. A similar scenario was repeated as each dish was served (sometimes I caught them before they left the table, sometimes I did not). Invariably, they were extremely knowledgable about the dish - why wouldn't they just impart that knowledge to us? Oddly, the next day, I had brunch at Rosa Mexicano, and my husband and I had a great time contrasting the excellent voluntarily-given descriptions of the dishes there with Cityzen's service techniques - and I never would have expected such detailed description (or any for that matter) of our $12 tacos at Rosa Mexicano. On the other hand, the cheese service was really helpful; the guy who operates the cheesecart is extremely talented at picking out the perfect cheese for each person. Although everyone at the table has very different cheese tastes, each combination was perfectly composed and suitable to those taste. It was really remarkable. Someone at the table was celebrating a b-day, and they wrote happy birthday on the dessert plate in chocolate, and presented us each with a glass of prosecco to celebrate. It was one of the nicest celebratory treatments I have seen; elegant, but understated. Additionally, I was impressed that they were able to gracefully handle the mixed ordering. Generally restaurants have all or nothing policies about tasting menus; either everyone gets it or no one gets its. At Cityzen, however, they allowed some to have it and other to choose thier own dishes. The mixed service was done without any awkward gaps. My biggest complaint is with regard to the wine pairings. Those of us who ordered the tasting menu also ordered the matching wine pairings for an additional $80/pp. No wine was served until after both of the amuses. And, there was no suggestion of a pre-dinner beverage. Therefore, we were sitting there for a good 40 minutes without a beverage. Moreover, not all courses were paired. In total, three glasses of wine and a port (and the complimentarty b-day beverage was served). Each of the glasses of wine was only about a 3-4 ounce pour. This seems like quite a paltry amount of wine for a six course meal. Moreover, although the wine was good, it was nothing spectacular. At the same time, the person ordering a la carte had two glasses of wine that were about $20 each (I am not certain of the exact figure) that was of far better quality - and more quantity. This was extremely obvious. And were it not, a waitress made it more so by lightly scolding the a la carte person for sharing because it would make us all jealous. For $80 pp. I do not want 12 ounces of wine/port that leaves me wanting for quality. It is clear that the pairings are a huge profit center for Cityzen. Hopefully, however, this profit was enough for them because - despite the amazing food and (almost) flawless service, I do not intent to return anytime soon. I left feeling ripped off.
  8. I never said that Lebanese Taverna was terrible. I do not believe it is terrible. I said it was resting on its laurels, which I believe is the case. It used to be a place that I would travel far to get to. Now it isn't. I still enjoy it though. It is just not so exceptional as to travel across the city to go there anymore. There are places that are worth the effort; I just wouldn't choose to go through it with that large of a group. Off the top of my head, I can think of Bistrot du Coin, the Islander, Two Amy's, El Chalan, and Heritage India. I am sure that I am missing many. And, of course, if the group had access to a bus, I would highly suggest Layalina, Thai Square and many others. If it were my group, however, I would skip all the hassle of being responsible for their travel and stick to the neighborhood that they are in.
  9. Marrekesh's food is certainly not up to the sophisticated level of some of the other places mentioned, nor does it appeal to typical egullet/chowhound types, but the food is certainly several steps above "terrible." It also has the advantage that the menu is fixed so they can do what they do fairly well. And after all, it is not trying to appeal to foodies who are looking for the greatest and latest. It is there for those looking for entertainment and a good fun time with their dinner, generally folks from all over and who's view of "good food" can even include places where foodies wouldn't be caught dead, i.e., groups which are probably not unlike the one the OP is planning to entertain. They have a very good product for that market. ← I would have agreed that it was not terrible if I were basing my statement on the food I had there a few years ago. Unfortunately, the last time I went, the food was terrible. I had arranged for a group of people from work to go there. It was my idea, as the food had before then been just fine. This time it was not. Moreover, I was very concerned that they brought two different dishes out to one attendee and claimed that they did not contain nuts, when the nuts were (thankfully) clearly visible. We had called in advance to ask whether they could accomodate a nut allergy, and they said that they could. But, their only method for doing so was to lie about whether the dish had nuts. After all that, however, I have to say that I will be back. It really is fun. I just don't know if it is a great bet for such a group.
  10. Bistro d'Oc may also meet your needs. It is a good neighborhood place that would certainly have sufficient room upstairs to seat your party.
  11. I agree with the Zaytinya recommendation completely. It is excellent, hip, and close. And, it can accomodate large groups (with enough notice). Kanlaya would also be an excellent choice, but I have had times when the food was not quite as fresh as I might like. Jaleo does not accomodate groups of that size. Cafe Atlantico could be a good choice, but might end up a little on the pricey side given your stated budget. Marrekesh, although fun, has terrible food and is cash only; probably not a great idea for that group. If you wanted more casual - and less expensive - you could go for teaism. They could accomodate such a group in the basement. I would probably stay away from all of the Chinese establishments. Although there are one or two that have very good food, they are not the cleanest looking establishments, and some may not trust them. (For the record, I do, I just try to pick my audience for them). I have not personally gone to La Tasca, and I have not heard great things, but my firm recently had an event there similar to that you are describing, and it went over pretty well. Lebanese Taverna is nowhere near the convention center. If you are going to the trouble of taking the metro (which I would not bother to do with that large of a group if you are only talking about one night - there are lots of options within walking distance), go to someplace better than Lebanese Taverna. It is resting on its laurels. And, Zaytinya is so much better and closer. Old Ebbitt is always a great choice, but it is a bit of a walk. Don't get me wrong - I think that it is completely walkable, but I am sometimes in the minority on this type of thing. Good luck.
  12. Does anyone know of a good place in the city? I used to go to Edy's all the time, but now it is not very convenient.
  13. I tried the brunch at Firefly this weekend, and although everything tasted wonderful, I was quite surprised at the complete lack of garnishes. It seems very odd to me that a restaurant would serve such an excellent omelet (the crab omelet really was delicious) just bare, on a nearly white plate. A little color would have made my meal so much better. As it was, I felt oddly disappointed by this wonderful omelet. Was the garnish just forgotten in my instance, or is this actually the typical method of service?
  14. I have been there about 5 times, but not in the year or so (I used to live very close by). I found the food to range between good and excellent (although previous chef), but the service was consistently ridiculously slow (in dining room, in bar, in lounge, on patio, and both in busy times and slow times). Despite my consistent enjoyment of the food and the extremely close proximity to my apartment, I had to stop going for that reason alone.
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