A great evening out begins with the restaurant

Isn’t the restaurant key to a Great Evening Out?

Just last night, we went out to scout a new potential restaurant for one of our Washington Great Evenings Out.  It is close to a super entertainment venue we send people to all the time, and the food gets really strong reviews from our friends.  Sadly for us, though the meal was decent, the restaurant didn’t make the cut for sharing with you, our discerning and fun-loving readers.  But trying it out gave us an opportunity to reflect on an important question:

What qualifications make a restaurant fit into a great evening out?

 Food Above All, but what else?

Obviously, the food has to be full of top-notch ingredients, well prepared, and enticingly presented.  When the cuisine provides some kind of connection with the entertainment — theater, music, etc. — elements of the evening, that earns it bonus points in our book, for helping to set the mood and spice up the conversation.  You want a broad spectrum of good drinks, because it matters when different people at the table prefer different things.  These are all factors in choosing a great restaurant meal on a special evening out.

It’s also key that the setting and décor create some sense of occasion.  When walking in to a place helps you feel like you’re making an entrance on stage yourself, we start to get interested.  Attentive service that welcomes you warmly and respects your time, then makes everyone at each table feel as though they are the only table in the place, makes so much difference.  It’s quite a trick to treat every table as though they are the table that the cameras are focused on, while everyone else is pleasant background, but the best places manage it.  DC is getting better and better at this “it” factor and in the nicest places we recommend, you’ll find it in spades.

Why The Best Matters

All these components combine to let you and your companions experience each other in the best possible light, and form or renew connections that will permit you all to have a great time together.  Naturally, you’re having dinner in part so that your hunger is satisfied and you can really enjoy the rest of your evening’s entertainments; but in the right kind of place, dinner can function as a ceremonial invocation to conviviality and fun so they will follow you throughout the evening.  That kind of dinner launches a great evening.

What do you think?

We’d love to hear your ideas about what makes a great dinner out.  What other characteristics do you see in the restaurants that are extraordinary in your life?  Please tell us about some of your favorite restaurants, either here in DC or wherever you are from.  You can reach us at peteandsara@greateveningsout.com or add comments below to this post.

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