I know many people can't wait to get out of D.C. in August. But if you're sticking around next week, there are two things that will work in your favor -- less traffic and Restaurant Week.
From Monday through the 19th, more than 200 of the area's finest restaurants will offer three-course meals for set prices. Participating restaurants will offer a three-course lunch for $20.12 (get it?) and a three-course price-fixed dinner for just $35.12. For a complete list of restaurants taking part in the promotion, go to restaurantweekmetrodc.org.
Further adding to the value-oriented experience, many of these restaurants will also offer up wine tasting specials that you can pair with lunch or dinner. A few restaurants will even let you bring in your own special bottle of wine -- but more on that later.
Vidalia restaurant (1990 M St. NW) is planning on offering some of chef/owner Jeff Buben's classic dishes, such as shrimp and grits, on the weeklong menu. Sommelier Ed Jenks has put together a list of red and white wines that represent great quality and value (including an Argentine torrontes from Don Manuel Villafane), as well as a selection of craft beers and artisanal cocktails made from small-production American craft spirits.
All three of the local outposts of the Capital Grille steakhouse are currently featuring their Generous Pour concept, along with dry aged steaks and fresh seafood. The Generous Pour allows patrons to select any number of tastes from a preset list of nine premium wines for $25. During Restaurant Week, the steakhouse will also offer a three-wine tasting option for $9.
Owner Dean Gold of Dino's (3435 Connecticut Ave. NW) is extending Restaurant Week through Sept. 6. The free corkage policy (Monday through Wednesday) is suspended during Restaurant Week, but Dean will be offering special wine pairings as well as 33 percent off wines more than $50 on Sunday and Monday.
And speaking of corkage policies, if you are celebrating a special occasion and have been patiently waiting to open an extraordinary bottle of wine, Restaurant Week might be the time to consider taking it out to dinner. But there are a few things you need to know before you tote your wine along with you.
Maryland recently joined Virginia and the District in allowing patrons to bring their own wine into restaurants. However, at of the time of this writing, I could not find any restaurants in Montgomery County that have been issued a corkage permit.
Patrons should remember that corkage is a privilege, not a right. Policies vary widely from restaurant to restaurant and may even vary at the same restaurant depending on the day of the week. Most jurisdictions dictate that a restaurant may not charge more than $25 per bottle and must allow a two-bottle minimum.
Now that you know that you can take a special bottle or two of wine, let's talk etiquette. I suggest that you always call the restaurant ahead of time to let them know that you are planning on bringing in your own wine and confirm the restaurant's corkage policy. Lastly, I recommend that you always offer a taste of the wine to both the sommelier and your server. A little kindness goes a long way, and a sip of a unique wine just might help the server forget the bottle of wine your table didn't buy. (Tip: I always try to order at least one bottle of wine off of their wine list as a way of showing my appreciation.)