Seth Says: What Restaurant to Go To, When

Nightlife Maverick Seth McClelland is co-owner & Executive Chef of One Lounge Restaurant and a real estate developer with a penchant for restoring historic properties.  His gift for turning empty spaces into destinations also translates into curating venues for their cool-factor.  Here, McClelland presents the first in a series as a K Street Magazine Featured Contributor:

First Date:  Zaytinya

I’m not sure about you, but I haven’t been on a dinner date in quite some time… These days a date consists of drinks at a dimly lit cocktail lounge, followed by hot anonymous sex in a broom closet…but we can’t all live like me.

For the traditional first date, Zaytinya (701 9th Street NW) is perfect. The Greek and Turkish fused tapas and mezze is great for sharing and creates something to talk about other than ‘What you do?’ Plus, you can order in rounds, allowing time to chat between courses. The prices are such that you won’t break the bank in case this match doesn’t work out, although if it does, you are in Chinatown so you can walk around after dinner and pop into a bar for a nightcap.

Last Date: Eighteenth Street Lounge

Ok, so it’s time to move on, I get it. But how do you let your not-so-significant other know them’s the breaks? I suggest Eighteenth Street Lounge (1212 18th Street NW).

This hidden gem in Dupont is so dark in most places that after you drop the news you can just fade away — and with rooms laid out like a 19th century mansion, there is plenty of space for hide and seek. The only downside is that you will have to drop $10 each at the door, but since the bouncer never remembers anybody he won’t be able to answer the question, “Which way did he go?”

Dinner with the Family: Blue Duck Tavern

You Dad refuses to eat any thing that ‘isn’t cooked.’  Your sister is a vegetarian.  And
your grandparents insist on paying, even on their itty bitty budget.

Blue Duck Tavern (1201 24th Street NW) is perfect. This restaurant inside the Grand Hyatt offers bliss for the urban foodie, but old timey classics for your suburban in-laws. With local foods like the Maryland crab cakes or the Pennsylvania wild boar, together with classics such as Roasted Chicken, Beef Long Ribs or Grilled vegetables, all members will leave satisfied.  And as long as you don’t go crazy on their extensive wine list, even Grandma and Grandpa can afford to treat the young ‘uns (best if they’re 18+).

Dinner with a Business Partner: The Capital Grille

Whether you are locking down a new investor or dining with a colleague from way
back, the Capital Grille (601 Pennsylvania Avenue) is always the perfect place. Even if the last time you ate there the Nationals were still in Montreal, Barmen Mark and Patrick will remember you… and your wife’s name.

I like to saddle up to the bar because they always have a few bottles of really nice wine — leftover from a staff tasting — to let you sample. Just ask them to pour you something, order the oysters and a porcini rubbed rib eye, and your deal is done. Table service is nice, too.

For an over-rated experience: Rasika

Every time I pick up a restaurant issue of some DC paper I see Rasika (633 D Street NW and 1190 New Hampshire Avenue NW) near the top of that list and am, personally, baffled. I get it, the chef is doing a modern flair on classic Indian cuisine. So the deconstructed Chicken Tandori is a square bowl of basmati rice, a cleverly piled heap of poached chicken and a tandori drizzle. Am I being blasphemous in saying that I like my Indian food drenched in red sauce, possibly served from chaffing dishes and available in an ‘all you can eat’ format?  Maybe.

Honestly, the décor at Rasika is fine… you feel like you stepped onto a Hollywood set version of “cool,” or at least what super chic is supposed to be.  And it’s certainly a place with consistent food and drink.  But I’m not running to hang there on my only night off.

If you’re hosting a Private Event: One Lounge

Now entering its third year, One Lounge (1606 20th Street NW) has finally got it all figured out — if I do say so myself. Gone are the weird Russian bartenders and the uninspired Chefs. Today, One Lounge is the place I have always wanted it to be, global tapas ’til 1AM every night and craft cocktails ’til 2 or 3AM on weekends.

The kicker is our motto “No Rental Fees, Ever!” Whether you are hosting a 15 person Happy Hour at 6pm on a Wednesday, or a 75 person birthday party in your honor, One Lounge can pull it off, with no cost to you. However, if you want to show some Host Committee Love,  we have great deals on bottles, platters and open bar.

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