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NYers visiting DC for President's Day Weekend


jesuki1
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Hi everyone - my husband and I are planning a trip to DC this coming long weekend, and we hope to squeeze in some museums, strolls and shopping in between lots of eating.

Does anyone had any recommendations for any of the following?:

- Brunch - considering Cashion's, Teaism, Tabard Inn

- "Nice" dinner (tasting menu a plus) - considering Jaleo, Zaytinya, Corduroy, Cafe Atlantico, CityZen, Palena

- Cheap, great local spot

- Afternoon tea or coffee shop - considering Teaism

- Pastry shop/bakery

- Bars/lounges

I've been reading through threads and my head is spinning with the options!

We are as happy eating at cheap, yummy dives as at $100/head fancy dinners.

Hubby and I are staying at the Wyndham Washington Hotel (near Farragut North and McPherson Square metro stops). But we are more than willing to travel for food.

Thanks in advance for your help - I look forward to visiting!

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I would go to Cahion’s for Brunch over the other selection. I have never been impressed by the food at Teaism, or Tabard.

For all of the times I have been to Jaleo, and Zaytinya, I cannot remember either having a tasting menu. From the list I would recommend Palena, Corduroy, and Cafe Atlantico (in that order). I should note that I have not been to CityZen. If you want a great tasting menu, you might also consider Marcel's. It is a restaurant that I do not believe gets enough mention on this board. The newly improved Vidalia is another choice that I could recommend. I had a very memorable dinner there last week. Most of the quality cheap eats are found in the suburbs. If you have a car, I would recommend a trip to the Eden Center in Falls Church.

What do you look for in a bar and lounge? If you want a nice piano and a great atmosphere to sit and have drinks, and still be able to hold a conversation, I would point you to the Town and Country Lounge at the Mayflower. Other spots in this vein are the bar at the Four Seasons, and Le Bar at the Sofitel. If you want something a little more hip, try Degrees at the Ritz in Georgetown. I would steer clear of the Round Robin (in the Willard) and Off the Record (at the Hay Adams); both are nothing more than tourist traps masquerading as power spots.

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You may also want to consider trying one of the Tunk trio: Ten Penh, Ceiba and DC Coast all located near metro stops and your hotel (more or less). But I second the motion for cheap eats, if you have a car, get out to Seven Corners and go to Eden for a Vietnamese experience.

Oh, J[esus]. You may be omnipotent, but you are SO naive!

- From the South Park Mexican Starring Frog from South Sri Lanka episode

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You might consider Latin or Ethiopian food as an inexpensive change of pace. Adams Morgan has plenty of both, (Addis Abbaba for shabby but scrumptious; Meskerem for something a little more upscale. Wandering around to the general area of 9th and U will turn up another dozen Ethiopian places, we like Dukem which is somewhere in the vicinity of 11th and U streets, the restaurant row on 9th -- just south of U -- is the happening spot, but we haven't fully explored it yet.

If I were dropping real cash, I'd go to Marcels.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I would check out the bar at Firefly. They have a daily wine happy hour with a couple of unusual wines that you're not likely to find elsewhere and at a decent price. If you happen in there, don't pass up the fried oysters. Dinner wouldn't hurt you either. A very trendy clientèle.

If you wind up at Corduroy for dinner, ask Ferhat (eGullet's fero style) if Chef Power can make his scallops tar tar for you.

If you want to go to Ray's the Steaks (closed on Mondays), call early for a reservation and between 12-2 in the afternoon.

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For an unusual tea and tea meal experience, I'd choose Ching Ching Cha over Teaism. It's on Wisconsin, next to the C&O Canal, across from the Georgetown Mall. It's peaceful and pleasant, where I've always found Teaism to be frenetic and just a small step above fast food.

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Great feedback! Does anyone know if there's a website that lists DC restaurant menus? Amazon has some, but not a lot.

Sthitch

- we'll be there from Fri night to Mon afternoon, so I'm definitely hitting up Cashion's for brunch one of those days.

Thanks for mentioning Marcel's - you and busboy both recommend, and I can't remember reading too much on the boards about it. Will investigate further.

What happened recently with Vidalia? New chef? I was reading some not so great reviews of the place, but the reviews were a bit older. That's one of the first recommendations I had for DC restaurants, years ago, and I've always wanted to check it out.

As for bars/lounges, we're looking for something relatively young (20s30s) and hip but not painfully trendy. Someplace with decent cocktails, not too much attitude, and most important, good music (house, disco, funk). I've heard that Adams Morgan is a good nabe for this kind of thing? Or Dupont Circle? Any opinions on 18th St. Lounge? Dragonfly? Fun or annoying?

FunJohnny

- I've been reading about TenPenh as well. Will have to check that out. How far is it to drive to a place like Eden Center from DC? Hubby loves good, cheap, ethnic food, so that's a possibility. I was reading about a place called Flavors for Southern food as well - any thoughts?

Busboy

- thanks for the tip on Ethiopian. DC is known to have excellent Ethiopian, I've heard. I went once to an Ethiopian restaurant near Georgetown - I forget the name... Addis Abbaba sounds good!

Tweaked

- do you know what the price range of the Komi tasting menu is? Just checked out your 1/15 review - it looks good!

mnebergall

- wine happy hour at Firefly sounds like a great idea! Just the thing we might need after pounding the pavement. I'll probably have to pass up the fried oysters, tho - I had too many during Chinese New Year's. ;) And thanks for the Corduroy tip!

zora - I'd definitely like a tea spot that's more serene than frenetic. Thanks very much for the rec for Ching Ching Cha!

Edited by jesuki1 (log)
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you better double check but the tasting menus at Komi are approx. 5 courses for $59 and 7 courses for $79 (but that may have changed).

Lounges you might want to check out:

Blue Room and Mantis in Adams Morgan (a lot of the other clubs in Adams Morgan are young and post-frat boy crowd)...another spot you might want to check out is Chi Cha on U Street, around 16th, lots of couches, South American tapas menu, music is sort of world beat boarding on a house tip.

Not sure what you are use to but you will probably find 18th Street Lounge too pretentious, nice space but definitely the monied see and be seen scene. I'm personally not a fan of Dragonfly.

If you want to do some dancing. Saturday night at a place called Andalu in Dupont, there is potential for a good DJ, Holmes Ives (house, progessive house) crowd not overly pretentious, but drink prices are pretty high $8 for a Jack and Coke. It will be more of a club scene. Finally if you want to do some late, late night dancing check out a small house club called Red, around the corner from Andalu, entrance is down a side street Thomas Jefferson and is located under the Fuddruckers in Dupont Circle (on Conn Ave), things start hopping around 1am and go to 6am. 18th Street lounge, Dragonfly, Andalu, Red are all located in a block stretch where 18th Street and Connecticut Ave intersect between N and M Streets.

PM me if you have any other questions!

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Not sure what you are use to but you will probably find 18th Street Lounge too pretentious, nice space but definitely the monied see and be seen scene. 

Don't be dissin' ESL. It's definitely a classier way to while away an evening with progressive music and beautiful people where hearing each other is still a possibilty. A plus is that you actually need to know where it is to get there, so it's low on the clueless. Cover of $10 (or $0 if you are a girl) kicks in around 10 pm.

Resident Twizzlebum

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Hey there....Sebastian from Komi here......

Our current tasting menu is $89 for 9 courses and an additional $40 for wine pairings.

Any other questions feel free to ask.

Is it just me....or do you hate it when people say....is it just me?

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If you've never been to 18th St. Lounge, you should check it out. If you can make it early in the evening (before 10:30ish), the attitude (and cover) at the door shouldn't be an issue. It's a really cool space, great music, worth seeing, pretentiousness and all.

Tweaked's suggestion of Blue Room and Mantis would also make for a fun night. On the food front, Palena and Komi for the tasting menus would be tops on my list.

Open Table might be helpful for digging up restaurant menus.

Have fun!

Amanda

Metrocurean, a D.C. restaurant and food blog

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an evening with six courses of frank ruta's food at palena would be a most enjoyable evening. one could also follow that with drinks at the aroma lounge down the street, just opposite the uptown cinema.

for grandiose opulence (on all fronts) en espanol, taberna del alabardero downtown at 17th and i streets satisfies an iberian itch. i vaguely recall in my dim mind a tasting menu but i would be sure to double check. dressed down spanish, jaleo most certianly fits the bill. furthermore it is quite easy to create a tasting menu by ordering one or two tapa at a time in whatever progression you see fit: call it diy gastronomic gratification.

there is no love sincerer than the love of food

- george bernard shaw

i feel like love is in the kitchen with a culinary eye, think she's making something special and i'm smart enough to try

- interpol

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Frogprince's first rec (Palena/Aroma) sounds fun to me. Mantis in Adams Morgan can also be a good time.

Another lounge option is IndeBleu down by the MCI Center. I wanted to hate it (based on their press release, etc.), but I've had some fun nights and great drinks there. And if you go and hate it, there are nice drinking options nearby (e.g., Poste, Zola, even Jaleo).

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Marcel's kicks Palena's butt. IMHO. They have a tasting menu, too (who doesn't, these days?).

Not that Palena doesn't put out a pretty good meal.

Edited by Busboy (log)

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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jesuki1,

Vidalia does have a new chef, his name is RJ Cooper, he used to be the chef at New Heights before joining Vidalia. Prior to his arrival, the restaurant had become very uninspired.

As for Marcel's, I am not sure why it does not get more mentions, maybe it is because Robert Wiedmaier sticks fairly close to his Flemish roots. I have never eaten anything there that has been less than stellar, his boudin blanc is the best sausage I have ever eaten.

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Not to be pedantic Nadya, but ESL most def. does not play anything resembling progressive.

Jesuki1, what kind of club/lounge scene are you looking for? Red is without a doubt the best club in DC but you have to be into dancing and very late hours!

Not sure what you are use to but you will probably find 18th Street Lounge too pretentious, nice space but definitely the monied see and be seen scene. 

Don't be dissin' ESL. It's definitely a classier way to while away an evening with progressive music and beautiful people where hearing each other is still a possibilty. A plus is that you actually need to know where it is to get there, so it's low on the clueless. Cover of $10 (or $0 if you are a girl) kicks in around 10 pm.

Edited by DCMark (log)
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aah! Too many choices. I will have to come back again to sample more of DC's food goods.

sebastian0 - thanks so much for the info. 9 courses - oof! What a lot of food (although I'm reading that the portions are not large, fortunately). The Komi thread on egullet is chock full of great reviews!

Sthitch - is the Marcel's tasting menu the pre-theater one they list on their website? http://www.marcelsdc.com/pretheater.html

frogprince - you have a very good point. Tapas is kind of a DIY tasting menu by definition!

DCMark - have been PMing with Tweaked, and have a good lineup of places to go out. Definitely plan to hit up Red. :) If not prog house, what would you say ESL plays?

Thanks so much for the recs, everyone!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ok - we didn't get to very much over the weekend, sadly. :( Report following:

Fri night, arrived late, didn't end up going out or eating out.

Sat, got brunch at Logan Tavern. Hubby got the Shrimp Po' Boy, which was tasty, although he complained that there weren't enough shrimp (there are honestly never enough shrimp for him ;)). I got the feta, spinach and portabella omelette. Too much egg, too little feta, portabella were a bit burnt. But a nice place to spread out and plan out our day.

We ended up walking around for HOURS. Intended to go to Zaytinya or Cafe Atlantico for dinner, but ended up at Teaism for a quick snack. I got the ginger lemonade and the irresistible Salty Oats (ended up buying 2 bags to take home!). Hubby got the naan (which was more like a toasted pita) and some tasteless curry soup.

Headed back to the hotel for a nap that lasted until 10:30pm. Ended up staying in.

Sun, intended to go to Cashion's for brunch, but also wanted to get an early start to the day. Brunch doesn't start til 11:30am, so we headed to Georgia Brown's for their brunch which starts at 10am. What an onslaught of food! They have a large buffet that includes 2 kinds of salad, 3 kinds of cold meat, french toast, sausage, bacon, fruit salad, omelettes to order. Then a dessert table and chocolate fountain. AND an entree that you can take to go. For $30. Way too much food for that early in the morning. It was decent, but nothing to rave about.

We walked over to Eastern Market, and of course (after all that brunch food!!) had to try a crabcake at the Market Lunch. It was mobbed, and the crabcake sandwich was disappointing.

We walked around again for hours and then ended up at Zaytinya for dinner around 6pm or so. We were told it would be at least 1.5 hours when we got there, which was fine with me, since I was determined to eat out SOMEWHERE.

We managed to secure a seat at the bar. After we decided to eat at the bar and had given our beeper to the bartender, it started going off, about 10 minutes after we'd gotten there. I pointed this out to the bartender and told him we'd been told to expect a wait of 1.5 hours. He gave me a mysterious look and said there must be a mistake.

I noticed another group of ladies came in and camped out at the bar, expecting a long wait as well. Their beeper went off shortly after they arrived as well. Not sure what the seating strategy is at Z.

I ordered a pom-fili (some kind of pomegranate cocktail), which was lovely, and hubby ordered a dry greek wine which ended up being quite fruity. The bartender heartily praised me on my choice, a theme that would extend through the night.

For food, we ordered:

Spanikopita - flaky dough, nice balance of spinach, feta and dough

Havuc koftesi (carrot apricot pinenut fritters with pistachio sauce) - one of my favorites; nice texture, great flavor, great sauce

Lagos krassatos Me Faies (braised rabbit with lentils) - great seasoning and sauce

Manti "nejla" (beef stuffed pasta with roasted garlic yogurt, paprika butter and sumac) - I loved the yogurt sauce, although I didn't like the way the pasta overwhelmed the beef, since the pieces of pasta themselves were so small. The yogurt sauce was bracing and tart, but I enjoyed it very much.

Beef tenderloin (Argyros Vinsanto sauce and roasted shallots) - The beef was done perfectly, although compared to the other flavors in our meal, it kind of faded into the background. The sauce didn't have very much character.

Taramosalata (cured cod roe dip with bread and olive oil) - This was good, although it was too much, considering how much other food we ordered! Nothing better/different than you get at other Greek restaurants.

Scallops with yogurt dill sauce - the scallops had a great consistency and were cooked just right. The yogurt dill sauce went nicely with the scallops - not too overpowering. I liked this dish, hubby (who's a huge scallop fan), for some reason, wasn't in love with it.

Bademli Gorba (almond milk soup with labneh sorbet, caramelized apples, pears, walnuts and vinsanto-roasted Medjool dates) - I was expecting to love this, after reading some great things about it. I was intrigued by the labneh sorbet, and loved the sour, unexpected quality of it. But the almond milk soup was bland, and I could taste a bit of rancidity in the walnuts, as if they'd been stored for too long.

Overall, I enjoyed the food at Zaytinya. I appreciated that we got to try 8 different things! However, the service left something to be desired. I think we should have tried to secure a table, seeing as how the bar was so full when we arrived. Within 10 minutes, it emptied out a bit, and then another wave of people showed, crowding the bar area.

The bartender had this annoying habit of heartily praising our choices ("oh, that's an amazing dish! That's my favorite! You'll love that one!"). I appreciated his friendliness but didn't need him to constantly validate my selections. Maybe that was his way of being friendly?

At the end, I paid the check and visited the restroom. I realized he never brought me the coffee I'd ordered, and upon my return, asked him to check that he hadn't charged me for it. At that point, I was getting tired and wanted to go home.

We waited for 5 minutes, after which he told me he would cancel the bill and charge it again. After another 5 minutes, he said that the coffee wasn't on the bill after all, but he still had to run my card through. After another 5 minutes (!!) and some dirty looks from my corner, he finally ran my card through, and we ran outside.

On my end, we should have stuck to a table, where we could have been properly served. There were 2 bartenders there on a Sunday night, when there really should have been 3. This aspect of slow/unreliable service cast a pall on an otherwise pleasant night of eating.

Monday, we visited Baltimore and ended up at the Cross Street Market for a late lunch. We stopped at a counter at one end of the market (have forgotten the name), where the steam station was open. We got 2 crabcakes and a pound of steamed shrimp. The crabcakes were definitely forgettable, but the steamed shimp were amazing!! Crusted with Old Bay seasoning and cooked to just the right doneness! We almost got another pound to eat, but decided we'd better leave before we overdid it. We got a big bag of crab Utz chips on the way out.

Thanks so much, egulleters, for taking the time to make great recommendations. I'm sorry to have missed out on so many eating opportunities, but there's always next time... :)

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The bartender had this annoying habit of heartily praising our choices ("oh, that's an amazing dish!  That's my favorite!  You'll love that one!").  I appreciated his friendliness but didn't need him to constantly validate my selections.  Maybe that was his way of being friendly?

The servers at Zaytinya must be instructed to praise choices because they always seem to. I think it's a little annoying myself. Anyone know if that's a common tactic to teach waiters?

Sorry you didn't get to eat more! You'll have to come back soon.

Amanda

Metrocurean, a D.C. restaurant and food blog

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The bartender had this annoying habit of heartily praising our choices ("oh, that's an amazing dish!  That's my favorite!  You'll love that one!").  I appreciated his friendliness but didn't need him to constantly validate my selections.  Maybe that was his way of being friendly?

The servers at Zaytinya must be instructed to praise choices because they always seem to. I think it's a little annoying myself. Anyone know if that's a common tactic to teach waiters?

Sorry you didn't get to eat more! You'll have to come back soon.

Reminds me of every time I go to Sur La Table at Pentagon Row. No matter what I purchase, or inquire about, there's always a salesperson there to say something like, "Oh, I just got the same one last week. I love it!" Every visit. Happens to my wife, too.

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