Whether a birthday, an anniversary, a promotion or just because it’s Tuesday, there are plenty of top-notch restaurants to celebrate those special milestones. Here, a few suggestions.
Frutti di mare add spark to any occasion, and there's no fresher seafood than at RAMMY winner Fabio Trabocchi's Fiola Mare, which has helped fuel the revitalization of Georgetown’s waterfront. Any seat is fine for gazing out at kayakers and boaters, while tucking into a decadent plate of lobster ravioli or the raw bar for two. Brinn Sinnot, part of the opening team at white-hot Le Diplomate, takes over the reins from John Melfi, continuing the standards that have made this cross-town destination a permanent fixture at the top of many “best” lists.
Few restaurants turn dinner into an experience as José Andrés’s altar to molecular gastronomy. Just 12 seats lined up against a semi-circular bar rimming the kitchen place the focus squarely on what’s on the plate. With this level of cooking, diners at Minibar would be hard-pressed to focus on anything but these playful concoctions: pig-shaped meringues filled with bacon ice cream; a Waldorf salad made into a sandwich.
For decades, world leaders have power-dined at this former townhouse, named for the year in which our founding fathers adopted the Constitution and Georgetown officially gained a zip code. Six dining rooms adorned with antiques and historical photographs provide plenty of options for secluded dining (President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the second floor). In contrast to the historical details, the 1789 menu under chef Samuel Kim takes a modern approach, honed from his days at Colicchio & Sons and Michelin-rated The Modern. Seared, ruby-red tuna punctuated by smoky-briny rice crackers whets the appetite for a dish of intensely sweet and succulent Nantucket bay scallops (if you can get them), feather-light gnocchi doused in truffles and an impressive plate of double-chop lamb. Menus change depending on what’s at the farm, but the savvy save room for sweets by Ryan Westover (Poste, Mike Isabella).
With its curved brick doorway leading into a candle-lit courtyard lined with flowers and greenery, the entrance to Cathal and Meshelle Armstrong’s Old Town restaurant hints at something special. And the experience inside Restaurant Eve doesn’t disappoint. A table in the sunny Sunflower Room (above) sets the stage for a memorable evening of exploring chef Cathal’s tasting menu, much of which is comprised of ingredients with a local provenance (the restaurant’s own garden). Meanwhile, cocktail guru Todd Thrasher provides plenty of reasons to agonize (oh, what to get?!) over his well-thought-out menu.
Lafayette in the Hay Adams
At a time when the city is awash with the latest chef-lebrity restaurant, Lafayette can seem downright old fashioned. But a closer look demonstrates a dining establishment that has stood the test of time, and for good reason. Located inside the historic Hay Adams Hotel just north of the White House, Lafayette is about as classic as they come, from the crystal chandeliers and potted plants to the menu. A culinary team led by the esteemed Peter Schaffrath executes with assured hands timeless plates like truffle risotto and Maine lobster salad. Case in point: the Dover sole. Expertly carved tableside and presented with a lemon caper sauce on the side, this classic French preparation lends a sense of occasion to any evening (not to mention envious looks from fellow diners). For dessert? Chocolate soufflé, naturellement. A table facing out to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is nice for people-watching, but the best seats are in the corner by the fireplace.
Inn at Little Washington
Few evenings feel as rarified as one spent at Patrick O’Connell’s charming Inn at Little Washington. In an antique-filled house located in the historic town of Little Washington, roughly 70 miles southwest of the District of Columbia, O’Connell and staff execute at the highest levels, sending out haute cuisine that’s accessible for everyone. A new a la carte format gives diners the freedom to choose favorites (Caesar salad ice cream; “Tin of Sin” American osetra caviar and peekytoe crab), but the tasting menu shows off the kitchen’s prowess. Rent a car and make a day of it or spend the night. The price may be hefty, but the memories are priceless.