Photo: Has it really been twenty years since Cider House Rules?
In a recent interview, actress and movie star Charlize Theron lamented that men are too intimidated to ask her out. This brought two thoughts to mind.
First: Ms. Theron, please let me know if you are coming through D.C. As you can see below, I think we could have a lovely evening. Or I can come up to New York if you’re there. However it happens, I’ll make it work. No need to respond on social media, you can discretely contact me here.
The second thought was akin to thinking about how you would spend lottery money when you’ve only bought the ticket: where would you take Charlize Theron to dinner in D.C. for a first date? Indulging that thought, here are my ideas (which you can apply to your own circumstances as need be):
Kinship – The cooking is world class, the tone is quiet and romantic, the staff is polished. It may be the perfect place for a special meal. There are many who like this place more than its tasting-menu subterranean cousin.
Masseria – It is a little less discrete and a little more loud than something like Kinship, but the oasis in the Union Square parking lot is unique, transporting and insanely delicious. It is also not that stuffy, so it wouldn’t feel that awkward.
Fiola – The patrician clientele would not take notice of a movie star and her less-than-movie-star-quality dining companion. It’s not like we’re Alan and Andrea. The service is refined, and the food is super-refined Italian.
Mirabelle – The downtown spot gets a little quieter at night. The food can be a little cutting edge for a first meal, but let’s be honest, if she isn’t into adventurous dining this relationship isn’t going to last.
Obelisk – Far less regal than the places above but cute as hell, and there are cozy tables where we could spend the hours getting to know one another. It is prix fixe, but not so involved that she couldn’t catch her private jet flight out of Dulles at midnight. Then I walk into the distance with Claude Rains saying “have you checked out my website?”
Sushi Ogawa – This place is ideal for a quiet meal. It is serene like some of the temples above, but not as formal. While the omakase counter is generally preferred here, the dining room is simple and great, and the non-omakase menu requires less commitment.
A Rake’s Progress – It’s theatrical! There may be no setting more grand than the converted church, especially the tables on the upper area that take it all in. The locavore food would also highlight the bounty of the region (in case she’s thinking of moving here by meal’s end), and give us something to talk about.
1789 – To really go for a local feel, this federal style mansion in Georgetown has it all – classic setting and memorable dishes from Chef O’Grady. Obama and Angela Merkel ate here once, and you can see how strong that relationship turned out! Plus there are the Exorcist steps, which were in a movie, and she’s in the movies! See, so much in common.
I skipped the long tasting menu places like Metier or Inn at Little Washington because that is too involved — too heavy for a first date. I thought about using her name to snag a reservation at minibar, but that would not be that conducive to getting to know each other — and tacky.
Finally, this was just for fun, but these places and many others not mentioned are great. I would have put Honeysuckle on this list, but sadly it closed. Which is a reminder that even if you do not line up a date with a beautiful, talented, smart, graceful actress that is just a few years …sorry where was I? Oh yes – please support good food in D.C. whether it is on a smaller budget or a big one.
UPDATE: There are new places that should be considered for this list. Estuary, the Voltaggio Brothers’ spot in the new Hilton near City Center. The cooking is elevated and so is the view. Another spot, more bustling but if you sit upstairs could be reserved enough would be Seven Reasons, the inventive and colorful Cardozo restaurant.