This week, the Going Out Gurus were joined by Brian Miller and Lauren Winter of the design firm Edit, the two super-cool minds behind the design of some of Washington’s most stylish bars and restaurants, including Rogue 24 (above). They took some time out from transforming the city to take readers’ questions about everything from why restaurants are so noisy to which area bars catch their eye. And all the while, we were chatting about some of the most aesthetically pleasing restaurant/bar bathrooms. Find the abridged version of the fascinating chat below; read the whole thing here, and be sure to submit your questions for next week’s chat here.
I have a question for the architects. In recent years, it seems like Tom and the Gurus and their readers keep bringing up how LOUD every restaurant is. It seems as though it’s impossible to go out to dinner and talk to friends and family without yelling the whole time. Do you think this trend will ever die? Is this something that restaurant owners specifically ask for?
Lauren Winter and Brian Miller: It’s not something owners specifically ask for, but in recent years a move toward more casual places means less upholstery, carpeting, curtains, and other materials that soak up sound. We think the perfect sound level is one where you can hear the people you’re with but not the people at the next table, but that’s hard to achieve and even one rowdy party of six can throw the balance off for a whole restaurant.
Are owners going to try for quieter places? Well, the loud places are the popular ones, and no owner wants an empty room...
Two 40-Something Ladies On The Town
My friend and I usually go out for a fancy meal each March to celebrate our birthdays, but this year want to do something a little different. We thought of visiting one of D.C.’s neighborhoods for some food, shopping, music, bar-hopping — whatever. U Street and the Atlas District look fun, but I wonder if we’ll seem out of place. We’re more Helen Mirren than Cloris Leachman, but still.
Fritz Hahn: I don’t think you’d look out of place getting cocktails at Atlas Room or Church & State, having dinner at Liberty Tree or the Queen Vic or Sticky Rice, catching up over drinks at the Argonaut, watching burlesque shows at Red Palace, getting a slice of lemon chess pie at Dangerously Delicious ... Now, if we were talking about late-night raving at the Rock and Roll Hotel or Little Miss Whiskey’s, it could be a different story. But there are more than 20-somethings singing at Sticky Rice’s karaoke.
Other favorites in D.C.
Hey guys, love your stuff! What are some other places (restaurants/bars/coffee places) in D.C. that you particularly like the design of?
Winter and Miller: There are some places in D.C. that have a really great feel and are always make us feel great, like Buck’s Fishing & Camping, Toki Underground, Proof (where Lauren’s husband works), Clyde’s, and Off The Record.
Sneak peak from Edit
Would love to hear more about the work you’re currently (and will be) doing with Eric Hilton. What’s the inside scoop on the projects you’re working on? Also, LOVE what you did at Dickson with the wine bottles!
Winter and Brian Miller: A few places coming up from Eric & Ian Hilton’s restaurant group:
Chez Billy, 3815 Georgia Ave NW: a French bistro & bar in two connected early 20th century buildings that used to house Billy Simpson’s, a restaurant with a fascinating history from the civil rights era. We’ve had to completely rebuild this place due to years of vacancy and water damage, but it’s great to see so much new investment in Petworth.
Satellite Room, 2047 Ninth St. NW: A very casual bar and restaurant adjacent to the 9:30 Club, we took inspiration from old Las Vegas and have some interesting details that tie into that. Should be a fun place to grab a drink and burger before or after a show.
The Brixton, 901 U St. NW: Two levels of dining and bar plus a roof deck with amazing views, this will have a pub feel but pay homage to the cultural mix of London’s Brixton neighborhood.
Three-day weekend activities/day trip?
Hi GOGs! Really looking forward to the long weekend ahead and my boyfriend and I want to do something fun and different. Willing to drive for a daytrip somewhere, but local is cool too. Things we like? Breweries and wineries (tried to get tix to Flying Dog but all sold out!), comedy clubs, eating out, sports, staying active, etc. Things we probably wouldn’t be into...museum events/galleries/artsy things. Some friends may be joining us so it need not be couple-y. Would love your thoughts!
Lavanya Ramanathan: It’s no secret that we love the Charlottesville area for this; great food, cool vibe, and yes, local breweries and wineries that are more established than you’ll find elsewhere in the state. First, check out the itinerary we created, and our list of restaurants/hangouts to hit while you’re there. Then, since you’ll be sipping, you probably want a place to stay; since you’re not in the market for a romantic getaway, my advice is check out Living Social and Groupon to see whether there are some deals for that. They always seem to have hotel deals close to home.
Maybe a stupid question, but is it possible to do Charlottesville without a car? Or should I just suck it up and rent one? Thanks!
Ramanathan: You’re going to have to suck it up. Things are actually quite close to each other (the breweries are within a mile or two of the wineries, etc.) but you still need a car to get from place to place. Also, it’s pretty fun to stop at a few wineries on the way down - there’s Blenheim, owned by Dave Matthews (yes, that Dave Matthews) and Barboursville, which is frequently mentioned as one of the best in the state, thanks to its Octagon blend. This is all actually kind of making me want to head down myself, for journalistic purposes, of course....