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I am doing my research for the upcoming trip to DC and every time I find something that looks interesting, it turns out to be part of a family of restaurants.

 

There are a bunch under Restaurateur Ashok Bajaj's name, with a wide range of flavors, and some variety in prices.

 

The Oval Room - DC modern?

Rasika - Indian

Bibiana - Italian

Ardeo/Bardeo - Modern American

701 - DC contemporary

Bombay Club - high style Indian

 

All the menus look good, if slightly on the high end of my comfort zone. Is one better than another? Are any, any good? I've seen some mixed feelings about The Oval Room.

 

 

Another is the group that includes the lower brow

 

Ted’s Bulletin

Matchbook (Palm Springs too?)

DC-3

 

 

I don't consider these chains anymore than some of the "groups" here at home. And they often highlight someone who knows not only how to put out good food, but has some ability with service and more. (And sometimes, they highlight someone who can run a restaurant but has no sense of what tastes good!)

 

Any experience or comments?

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It's been a couple-few years but I thought the Oval Room was although not bad a little eh and quite formal. Very good service though. It used to be one of the places to be seen, don't know if that is still the case. Did Jack Abramoff have something to do with it or was it one of his haunts or I am I imagining that?

 

Anyway, my sister because of her job spends a fair amount of time wining and dining fat cats and being entertained in return. In the past few years the high end places she has taken me to that have impressed me most have been Restaurant Eve in Alexandria and Vidalia. Cafe Milano was fun but the food was unmemorable. Gailileo was pretty good but sis is known to the house there and I am told that counts for much at Galileo. The Daniel effect if you will.

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I am doing my research for the upcoming trip to DC and every time I find something that looks interesting, it turns out to be part of a family of restaurants.

 

There are a bunch under Restaurateur Ashok Bajaj's name, with a wide range of flavors, and some variety in prices.

 

The Oval Room - DC modern?

Rasika - Indian

Bibiana - Italian

Ardeo/Bardeo - Modern American

701 - DC contemporary

Bombay Club - high style Indian

 

All the menus look good, if slightly on the high end of my comfort zone. Is one better than another? Are any, any good? I've seen some mixed feelings about The Oval Room.

 

 

Another is the group that includes the lower brow

 

Ted’s Bulletin

Matchbook (Palm Springs too?)

DC-3

 

 

I don't consider these chains anymore than some of the "groups" here at home. And they often highlight someone who knows not only how to put out good food, but has some ability with service and more. (And sometimes, they highlight someone who can run a restaurant but has no sense of what tastes good!)

 

Any experience or comments?

I'm not sure what information you're looking for in terms of restaurants. I find your point intriguing but don't really have enough expertise to give a great answer. My knowledge of New York restaurants is not strong enough to make comparisons.

 

In regards to the restaurant groups or groups of restaurants/bars owned by the same people, I'd say that a lot of that in DC now is connected to the development of particular areas of the city. That would not hold true for the Ashok places, which are geographically somewhat dispersed, but it does for some of the middle-to-lower-end clusters. Actually, Ashok may be the exception.

 

For instance, Xavier Cervera owns four bar/restaurants on 8th Street, SE (also where Ted's, etc., owned by a different group, are located) but I don't know under what name he's actually incorporated. I don't think he has a "group" per se. He has a fifth place in the works on 8th Street and a sixth one, a wine bar (which may open before #5), on a nearby block of 7th St, SE. Both 8th Street, SE, and H Street, NE, have been undergoing a significant redevelopment in the past several years. There was a recent NY Times piece that focused on dining on Capitol Hill that was mostly about middle-to-lower end places on 8th Street, SE. Numerous places on H Street, NE (same general neighborhood) also have a common owner/investor (Joe Englert). Jose Andres' restaurants in DC are all (?) clustered around the Penn Quarter area in NW, which was redeveloped starting in the 90s.

 

In a different area, moving towards the higher brow, there's the Eat Good Food Group, owned by Chef Cathal Armstrong and his wife Meshelle, in Old Town Alexandria, VA. They expanded from the highbrow Restaurant Eve both to nearby restaurants that needed makeovers, and also to expand their brand laterally (a highbrow speakeasy) and down (a chip shop).

 

Is there a particular type of restaurant you're looking for or a particular part of the city? (Or is outside the district okay?)

 

ETA: On the Ashok places, i recently had a good meal at The Oval Room. I have not been to Rasika recently, but it still seems to be doing well, according to other accounts. I haven't been to 701 since the chef changed, and I've still not gotten to Bibiana. I used to like the Italian restaurant formerly in that spot-and most of what I've heard about Bibiana has been good--but I haven't gotten there since it was bought and revamped.

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Hi Pat - thanks for the tips. I'm actually in Seattle where a few restauranteurs have become very well established and have opened a load of places with different names and menus. If I was visiting Seattle and accidentally ate at only restaurants by one owner, I would be very disappointed. There is some controversy amongst diners as to which are the best choices within one ownership - so I was thinking a similar situation might exist in DC.

 

I've got a pretty good list going for all over town, culled from here and there.

 

We are staying in the DuPont Circle area (yay for a Sunday Farmer's Market!) Pesce Bistro Cafe appears a must.

 

One thing I really need is a suggestion of a place to go on a weeknight with 5 people, one an almost 6 year old girl of unknown food preference (to me.) They are staying a bit farther North, still in the City. It would be nice to be able to talk easily, not be terribly expensive, and have some options (I don't know what her Moms eat either, but veg friendly might be a good bet.) I was thinking 2Amys might work, but it is not exactly centrally located.

 

I have a feeling M and I will be very happy with happy hours (for the food, not the drinks - like Johnny's Half-Shell) and ethnic restaurants. One recommendation I've received from a bunch of people is the Mitsitam Cafe at NMAI. I happen to like museum restaurants, so it isn't that hard to believe.

 

M would love to go gawk at journalists and politicians. I've been told to check out the bar at the Tabard Hotel, but maybe that is just for ambiance?

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You might consider Restaurant Nora -- not far from Dupont Circle, and super green for the 2 moms (while not veggie, they do a vegetarian tasting menu). About as organic as a place can get, right down to the servers' shirts and the linens. One of our favorite places since it opened when we lived there. I think Paul was there a few months ago and still loved it (although he's loved it forever and may not be unbiased :P ).

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One thing I really need is a suggestion of a place to go on a weeknight with 5 people, one an almost 6 year old girl of unknown food preference (to me.) They are staying a bit farther North, still in the City. It would be nice to be able to talk easily, not be terribly expensive, and have some options (I don't know what her Moms eat either, but veg friendly might be a good bet.) I was thinking 2Amys might work, but it is not exactly centrally located.

There is Dino, right by the Cleveland Park metro in NW. It's Italian, owned by a non-Italian but striving to be authentic. The owner runs so many specials I get confused about what's running at any given time, but that's my biggest complaint. The food is usually pretty good (and local, sustainable, so forth). They are reputed to be great with kids. It's a good kind of festive place. It has a nice vibe to it, and I'd go there a lot more often if I lived nearby. I've taken friends there and they remember it without prompting and want to go back.

 

M would love to go gawk at journalists and politicians. I've been told to check out the bar at the Tabard Hotel, but maybe that is just for ambiance?

That's a place I've heard about for years and never been to, so I can't help you. It used to be that Bistro Bis on Capitol Hill was a good spot for that, but I don't know anymore.

 

ETA: On the subject of museum restaurants, the buffet at the Garden Cafe in the National Gallery (West Building) is currently featuring the food of Fabio Trabocci: http://www.nga.gov/dining

 

When I went, it was fantastic, and it's a great (all you can eat) value for the money.

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[That's a place I've heard about for years and never been to, so I can't help you. It used to be that Bistro Bis on Capitol Hill was a good spot for that, but I don't know anymore.

 

ETA: On the subject of museum restaurants, the buffet at the Garden Cafe in the National Gallery (West Building) is currently featuring the food of Fabio Trabocci: http://www.nga.gov/dining

 

When I went, it was fantastic, and it's a great (all you can eat) value for the money.

 

I have that on my list and it does sound interesting (though the previous "pop-up" was probably more so!) I can't eat much, so quantity isn't a great factor, quality ranks high.

 

Thanks for the reference to Bistro Bis - Hotel George. Man, that is French. I think I recall my brother loving their sister restaurant Vidalia when they were in DC years ago.

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We are staying in the DuPont Circle area (yay for a Sunday Farmer's Market!) Pesce Bistro Cafe appears a must.

Ah, I love that area. So much scope for strolling & gawking at cityscapes. Loved that Farmers' Mkt too, even tho as a tourist I was just browsing, for the most part. It was fall then & I was intrigued to find apple varieties I'd never seen in NYC. Grabbed a small sampling & kept them in a cool spot in the room.

 

 

Shell) and ethnic restaurants. One recommendation I've received from a bunch of people is the Mitsitam Cafe at NMAI. I happen to like museum restaurants, so it isn't that hard to believe.

I will add to that recommendation, the food is very good.

 

Another fun place is the Pavilion Cafe in the National Sculpture Garden, on the north side of the Mall, adjacent to the National Gallery. It's covered in Pat's link above. The food is pretty standard but the ambience is great. Probably a better place for a coffee & snack than a lunch if you want to keep the focus on good food, but worth a stop, along with the Sculpture Garden itself, if you're already in the area.

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One thing I really need is a suggestion of a place to go on a weeknight with 5 people, one an almost 6 year old girl of unknown food preference (to me.) They are staying a bit farther North, still in the City. It would be nice to be able to talk easily, not be terribly expensive, and have some options (I don't know what her Moms eat either, but veg friendly might be a good bet.) I was thinking 2Amys might work, but it is not exactly centrally located.

In Dupont - Pizzeria Paradiso, Bistro du Coin

In Woodley Park - Lebanese Taverna (not the best food, but great for a 6 year old with lots of options)

In Cleveland Park - the cafe room at Palena, Medium Rare (steak frites is the only dish on the menu). Dino was already mentioned

If you go to Cleveland Park, be sure to pop into Weygandt Wines

M would love to go gawk at journalists and politicians. I've been told to check out the bar at the Tabard Hotel, but maybe that is just for ambiance?

The Palm and Cafe Milano are THE two power spots in DC. Central is also good for celeb spotting, as are the spots around Capitol Hill such as Bistro Bis.
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I went to the Lebanese Taverna once ages ago. I thought it was a pleasant meal, but not a really memorable one, not expensive at all at the time.

 

What do you (anyone) think of Filomena's in Georgetown? I only mention it because family members liked it in the past. I've never been.

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