Throwing This One Out to the Kids

Right, so…last week I had tickets to the Monumental Opera’s staging of Carmina Burana at the MCI Center. It was definitely…um…monumental. Seemed to me to be just too much stuff going on…there were elements of Hieronymous Bosch…and Cirque de Soleil…and some guys on stilts and a lot of fire, which, you know, I happen to think is highly entertaining. But, even with the stilts and the fire, I thought the whole thing was a bit over the top.

To be fair, part of my disappointment might stem from the fact that the stunningly rude girls who were in our box talked during the entire production [rant]What is wrong with people?! Apparently, they didn’t understand the “plot” of the opera, and somehow thought that discussing the fact that they didn’t understand what was going on would help them understand what was going on, whereas I might have suggested the second option of actually shutting up and watching the production in hopes that might help you understand it. [/rant]

But probably the most surprising part of the entire evening for me was the surprisingly challenging task of finding a place for dinner before the show. That shouldn’t be so hard, right? But, there we were, all dressed up and, really, no place we wanted to go. We wanted somewhere we would feel comfortable dressed for an evening at the opera [we’re old-fashioned and think that an evening at the opera — even if it is at the MCI — requires slightly more effort than jeans and a U of M sweatshirt. Seriously, I ask again: What is wrong with people?]. And we wanted a restaurant with good food. And we wanted it to be convenient to MCI so we could walk to the show after dinner. Shouldn’t be hard, right? Well, apparently, we’re missing something. I’d been to the conveniently-located-and-excessively-hyped Rosa Mexicano and, honestly, didn’t love it. Too many people trying to be tragically hip for my taste. And, speaking of taste, there really wasn’t any to their “famous” pomegranate margaritas. At any rate, Rosa Mexicano was clearly out, and after mulling over what seemed to us to be really very few choices, we settled on Buttefield 9. Lovely atmosphere. Lousy service. Priced as expected. Wholly average food.

So, you tell me…where should I have gone for dinner?

8 Comments so far

  1. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on March 9th, 2005 @ 10:46 am

    I wholeheartedly recommend the Oceannaire Room on F St. Absolutely great service, wonderful seafood. Their mussels are to die for, as is their clam chowder. You can’t go wrong with this A list spot, and dinner, while pricy, is worth each penny.

  2. darpino (unregistered) on March 9th, 2005 @ 11:51 am

    Speaking as someone who lived in Chinatown for 6 years, loved every minute of it, and is a tad horrified at the rampant Americanization of the neighborhood, I’d suggest eating at an actual Chinese restaurant. It seems ridiculous but choosing Chinese as a dinner option while in Chinatown is quickly becoming the off-track choice.

    I’d recommend Tai Shan (622 H Street, NW), while its looks may be decieiving when you’re dressed to the nines, it is actually a wonderful place with great food where they really know how to treat you when they can see you’re having a special night out. Of course this joint might be too down-to-earth for some but it certainly has served me well over the years. (Including being the dinner destination of my first date with my girlfriend of 6 years.)

  3. julia (unregistered) on March 9th, 2005 @ 12:00 pm

    tom, i couldn’t agree more about oceanaire, and it is a personal favorite! i just happened to be looking for a spot that was a new experience for my date…he’s been to oceanaire numerous times. in addition to the attentive service and quality food, i have to say their brownie dessert is amazing!

  4. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on March 9th, 2005 @ 12:17 pm

    I really liked Matchbox Pizza over in Chinatown, and Jaleo in Chinatown is amazing, if a bit hard to get into.

  5. Chris (unregistered) on March 9th, 2005 @ 1:03 pm

    Definitely agree on Matchbox. Fabulous pizza, slightly upscale.

    How about Zatanya (sp)? Great pan-med tapas.

    Cafe Atlantico? Ginger Reef? Ten Penh? Indebleu? (I haven’t been there yet, but hear good things)

    I could go on and on…

  6. Bethany (unregistered) on March 9th, 2005 @ 1:25 pm

    Dressed for the opera and on a date, huh? Well, I think Indebleu is overrated with a nasty attitude and disappointing service. Matchbox is good, but proably not what she was looking for on this dressy occasion (As a girl, I wouldn’t want to eat pizza, even “upscale” pizza, while I’m dressed for the opera!). Jaleo can get way too loud for a date. And she’s right about Rosa Mexicana being packed with no reason to justify it.

    I’m feeilng Ten Penh for this one. Or Ortanique, which has a cool elegant atmosphere, with creative food, even if it is a touch overpriced.

    I’m guessing the real issue here wasn’t thinking of a place to go, but someplace DIFFERENT to go. :)

  7. BustersDad (unregistered) on March 10th, 2005 @ 10:34 am

    I would echo a few options that have already been thrown out–Jaleo and Zatanya–which are both great options. I am huge fan of Cafe Atlantico which has a nicely priced pre-theatre menu if you get there before a certain time (maybe 7?). I love their guacamole, which is made at the table, and have always appreciated their great service. All of these options work best if you plan ahead and make reservations.

    I would also recommend the restaurant and bar in the Hotel Monaco and Zola. If you are looking for something with a little more universal appeal, or happen to have children along for the show, I highly recommend the Chophouse. Great food, drinks and service with the added bonus of being child friendly.

    Although I am not a fan of the fact that the “China” part of Chinatown seems to be disappearing, there are a lot of exciting new options for an evening out in and around the MCI/Gallery Place/Metro Center area. It is great to have that all 10 minutes walk plus 10 minutes on metro from home!

  8. karl rosenberg (unregistered) on March 21st, 2005 @ 4:26 pm


    you weren’t imagining it…and the rude girls around you may not have helped…but Carmina Burana Monumental Opera was, well, terrible. probably the worst choice on entertainment I have made in some time…and to think the New York Ballet was at the Kennedy Center the same night!

    Karl in Haiti

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