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plafield

Looking for updates and feedback on restaurants

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I'll be in DC for 4 days in march for a professional symposium and will be staying at the Omni Shoreham and have been researching restaurants. I prefer to walk or easy metro so am looking mostly in Cleveland Park/ Adams Morgan/ Dupont Circle area, although I'll take a taxi if I decide I must travel further for a great meal. I'm looking for a mix of experiences and will likely be dining alone but might connect with others for a dinner. Lunch has to be quick (we have 2 hours between morning and afternoon sessions.) I will need 3 dinners and 3 lunches. Here's my list of possibilities so far. Any feedback on any of these places will be helpful as well as recommended additions to consider.

For lunch:

Cafe Atlantico

The Diner

Vace (take out)

So's Your Mom (take out)

Dinner Possibilities:

Palena

Bistro Napolean

Vadalia

Lavandou

Cashions

Central

Marcel's

I had dinner at Citronelle 4 or 5 years ago (the last time I was in DC) and it was amazing and I'm considering returning but am not sure I'd enjoy the experience as much dining alone so I'm undecided. All feedback is welcome.

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While there are fairly recent comments that should be of use--especially those of gracious, witty and always opinionated hosts of France and this particular region--might I recommend browsing a local food message board where the traffic is more congested? Go to DonRockwell.com.

The fact that the Restaurant and Dining section is at the top of the forum's index indicates the primary raison of its etre. The eloquent, irreverent founder has a personal guide to restaurants that only members may scrutinize, however, you should have access to more than you'll need to know.

* * *

As for your own list, Vace is more of a grocery store than dining destination. Definitely keep Palena on your list.

Cf. the thread started here by Busboy (?) on New Heights. John Talbott also wrote feedback after a recent conference-related visit.

ETA: Glance down on this region's list of threads. You'll see much of what you're looking for in a topic started by someone also staying at the Omni...Woodley Park early in 2007. Also to delete info re a kid-friendly diner vs. the Adams-Morgan spot that inspires BB to exchange rusty spoon for pronged utensil.


Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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There's always this topic, if you haven't been through it.

Of the top of my head, I'd rather gouge my eyes out with an escargot fork than eat at the diner, though others differ in their opinion.

No one I know has ever been inside Cafe Napolean in the 25 years I've lived in DC, I'm thinking there's a reason for that.

New Heights is the closest good restaurant to your hotel -- the only "good" one in the neighborhood, as far as I know. If you have an affection for gin, you definitely should go there and eat at the bar and order from the only gin list in town (I am reliable told that, while other gins are described on the list in terms of their exotic botanicals and aromatics, the description of Bombay [dry] is simply: "tastes like gin").

If you're eating at the bar you should consider the bar at CityZen, where $50 gets three courses of the same stuff that he swells at the tables are paying a lot more for. Chef Ziebold is a Keller protege and may be the best chef in the city -- and he's always in the kitchen.

If you're eating at the bar and don't like gin or post-modern neo-American trans-fusion cuisine, but do like pig's feet (and you should) and other offal stuff, Vidalia is damn swell and probably the sleeper of your list. They have other food, too, and like all the other places I've mentioned, a good selection of wine by the glass.

If you want more than a glass of wine, and you're there on Monday, you can pick up a bottle or six of wine at Cleveland Park liquors (or anywhere, I suppose) and bring it to Lavandou for free corkage night. Lavandou is good old French, if you're craving that.

Cheers, and report back.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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If you're eating at the bar you should consider the bar at CityZen, where $50 gets three courses of the same stuff that he swells at the tables are paying a lot more for.  Chef Ziebold is a Keller protege and may be the best chef in the city -- and he's always in the kitchen.
Be warned that CityZen is very out of the way - the cab might cost more than the bar menu.

New Heights, and Vidalia gets the thumbs up, and I concur that the Diner is not worth seeking out. Of the recent crop of new bistros, I would choose Brasserie Beck over Central.

Isn't Bistro Napoleon closed?


Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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Isn't Bistro Napoleon closed?

Would anybody notice?

Heck of a picture window, though, with the gold leaf "N" and all.

Murphy's Irish Pub, btw, hidden around the corner from New Heights is as fine a place to hoist a pint as you'll find in walking distance.

Unless you feel like slumming at the Zoo Bar.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Right at Metro Center is Ristorante Tosca for pasta. Good for eating at the bar. Nearby is Brasserie Beck, a Belgian place that opened last summer. Have a good stay!


Scorpio

You'll be surprised to find out that Congress is empowered to forcibly sublet your apartment for the summer.

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Right at Metro Center is Ristorante Tosca for pasta. Good for eating at the bar. Nearby is Brasserie Beck, a Belgian place that opened last summer. Have a good stay!

Thanks everyone. Brasserie Beck is on the shortlist. It looks great. The Diner is gone! I have 3 dinners and the shortlist is Palena, B Beck, Central, and New Heights. I don't drink gin, but New Heights still looks like good food and is really close so it's a possibility. I'm actually not a drinker at all and prefer to sit at a table as opposed to eating at the bar. Am I correct in assuming I'll need reservations at all these places, except Palena's Cafe?

I'm not going to try to do sit down lunches, it feels too rushed to get out and back into the Omni in 2 hours, with chatting etc so I'll just stretch my legs and do take out, probably Vace and So's your Mom. If New Heights is really close there might be time for lunch there. On my last day I'm thinking I'll do a big breakfast at Open City and take in the Zoo for a couple of hours before heading out to catch my train which leaves at 3:00PM.

I'll definitely report back!

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I'd definitely go to Brasserie Beck.

If you are into wine, Dino, just one METRO stop above where you will be has the best, and best priced, list of Italian wines in DC, and the food isn't bad either. If you are alone, eat at the bar and have a great time.

Palena is a must, but it is very popular, with good reason. The back room takes reservations, but is more expensive and formal. The Cafe in front doesn't, is less formal, and excellent.

I'd also consider going for some Ethiopian food. Etete, Dukem, or Queen Makeda are all good choices.

If you like tapas, Jaleo or Zyatinya, both near Gallery Place METRO are excellent choices.

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Lavandou is <snip> old French, if you're craving that. 

Edited to remove erroneous adjective.

New Heights is not open for lunch.


Edited by JPW (log)

If someone writes a book about restaurants and nobody reads it, will it produce a 10 page thread?

Joe W

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No. There used to be another one on Connecticut, opposite the Woodley Park Metro.

There's also some awful place in Georgetown bearing the name.

That Napoleon dude, he gets around. I hear he has a pastry named after him, too.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Also a place I passed for the first time on the western side of Columbia while walking north from Dupont Circle into Adams-Morgan in the past couple of weeks.


"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Yes, this was the Cafe/Bistro Napolean I was asking about but I think I have plenty of choices that come highly recommended so at this point, that one is off the list. I only have 3 dinners.

My first evening (Thursday) I have a meeting on 11th near H so I'm deciding between Central and Beck. While it seems that some here think the food at Beck is better, I really like the look of the menu at Central. I'd love to hear more opinions comparing the two.

Friday I have a dinner included as part of my conference (oh boy, function food..bleh!) which leaves dinner on Saturday and Sunday. I plan to stay relatively close to the Omni (walk or easy metro) and I know one evening I plan to go to fairly early to the cafe at Palena so that leaves one more dinner. On the list of choices are New Heights and Equinox and I'm still open to suggestions in the Dupont Circle area. Anymore input on Obelisk?

I'm also still considering Komi for Saturday night. I imagine the food experience there is a step above any of the other places I'm considering (and I'd go for the degustation menu for sure) but I'm not sure if I'd feel welcomed there dining alone. Any thoughts?

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Palena restaurant, not cafe. It's too good.

Beck and Central are both great but very different.

New Heights has fried oysters, Equinox doesn't. Simple.


Edited by Mark Sommelier (log)

Mark

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Despite their geographical desirability, you might want to hold the Beck/Central option for Sunday night, as Sunday is a tough restaurant night. Here are some other ideas.

As Mark points out, Beck and Central are very different places, you should check their websites and see which strikes your fancy. Central is a little more sleek and Euro-suave, Beck a little more homey, I'd suggest. I'd bring a date that I wanted to impress with my sophisticated tastes to Central (if my wife allowed such things :wink: ) and I'd go out with the guys to beck.

I've never not come away from Equinox feeling vaguely disappointed, so I'd do New Heights.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Any opinions here on Marcel's? Is the food really sensational? Worth seeking out? If so I might stick to Central for my first night, do Palena on Saturday and go to Marcel's on Sunday. Or I could do Marcel's early on Thursday (they have a pretty great looking pre-theater prix fixe special and my meeting isn't until 8:30) and do Central on Sunday evening.

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Word on Marcel's is that it's been inconsistent of late as the chef focused on opening Brasserie Beck (if you guessed that Marcel and Beck are his kid's names, you win) and it lost half a star and dropped to 19 (FWIW) in the Washingtonian Top 100. It's not cheap, either.

That being said, I have never had less than a spectacular experience at Marcel's and their Boudin Blanc is one of the highest achievements of Western Civilization. I would go for it in a second. And, if you're not getting the pre-theater, you can kick it in the bar, and get either the restaurant menu or some high-quality snacks.

BTW, I meant to post this earlier vis-a-vis Komi. I'm somewhat acquainted with their maitre d'/manager/wine dude Derek Brown, and I would be extremely surprised if he made a single diner feel less than welcome at his place.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I'm reporting back. Thanks for all the input. I did have dinner at Marcel's on my first night in DC. A fabulous meal and all around great experience. I had a great table and they treated me like a queen. After I had been there for about an hour, another single woman diner was seated next t me and we had a lovely chat.

Indeed, the boudin blanc was sublime, as was the lobster bisque, foie gras and squab, as well as a heavenly chocolate souffle.

On Friday evening I joined some colleagues at a restaurant that one of them said they ate at last year and had the best soul food around. What followed was an extremely odd experience and terrible meal at Madam's Organ in Adams Morgan. This place is a grungy little bar serving horrid dried out fried chicken and luke warm oily mac and cheese and greasy collard greens that tasted like they were right out of a can. The company was great however, so I tried not think too much about the things I had been fantasizing about eating in the cafe at Polena, where I hoped we would go for dinner. Ah well.

I had great sandwiches for lunch from So's Your Mom on Friday and Saturday.

I had a reservation for Central for Sunday night but ended up leaving DC in the morning so had to cancel. So Central and Beck are at the top of my list for next trip.

Can't wait!

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I'm reporting back. Thanks for all the input. I did have dinner at Marcel's on my first night in DC. A fabulous meal and all around great experience. I had a great table and they treated me like a queen. After I had been there for about an hour, another single woman diner was seated next t me and we had a lovely chat.

Indeed, the boudin blanc was sublime, as was the lobster bisque, foie gras and squab, as well as a heavenly chocolate souffle.

On Friday evening I joined some colleagues at a restaurant that one of them said they ate at last year and had the best soul food around. What followed was an extremely odd experience and terrible meal at Madam's Organ in Adams Morgan. This place is a grungy little bar serving horrid dried out fried chicken and luke warm oily mac and cheese and greasy collard greens that tasted like they were right out of a can. The company was great however, so I tried not think too much about the things I had been fantasizing about eating in the cafe at Polena, where I hoped we would go for dinner. Ah well.

I had great sandwiches for lunch from So's Your Mom on Friday and Saturday.

I had a reservation for Central for Sunday night but ended up leaving DC in the morning so had to cancel. So Central and Beck are at the top of my list for next trip.

Can't wait!

Sign above the entrance at Madam's Organ: "Sorry, we're open."

Next time you go to Madam's Organ -- which revels in its grungy little bar-ness -- skip the food and just knock back beer and listen to some of the best local bluegrass and blues around. It's hard to imagine anyone going there specifically for the food, though the place deos smell marginally better since the smoking ban.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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