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Tom Sietsema
Washington Post Food Critic
Wednesday, November 1, 2006; 11:00 AM

In a city loaded with diverse restaurants, from New American chic and upscale Italian to sandwich shops and burritos on the run, finding the best places to eat can be a real puzzle. Where's the best restaurant for a first date or an anniversary? Father's Day? What's the best burger joint? Who has the best service?

Ask Tom. Tom Sietsema , The Washington Post's food critic, is on hand Wednesdays at 11 a.m. ET to answer your questions, listen to your suggestions and even entertain your complaints about Washington dining. Sietsema, a veteran food writer, has sampled the wares and worked as a critic in Washington, Seattle, San Francisco and Milwaukee, and can talk restaurants with the best of 'em. You can access his Postcards from Tom to read his recommendations for other cities, read his dining column and the Weekly Dish or read transcripts of previous "Ask Tom" chats . Tom's Sunday magazine reviews, as well as his "Ask Tom" column, are available early on the Web.

The transcript follows.

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Tom Sietsema: ON TODAY'S PLATE:

To celebrate 20 years of business, the Middle Eastern-themed Skewers (1633 P St. NW; 202-387-7400)is offering a two-for-one lunch special Nov. 6-10. Buy one entree ($8-$14), get the second free. Owner Tony Shallal tells me he's hired a cook from Casablanca to make sure the couscous is prepared the right way and has tapped chef Paul Morello, late of Les Halles (and ALMOST of Agraria), to tweak the rest of the menu. One of several new recipes to try: basil-and-mushroom meatloaf.

After a chatter asked if a vegetarian could be accommodated at Minibar in Penn Quarter, I received this response from chef Katsuya Fukushima:

Hey Tom,

Thanks for the post today. I would be extremely appreciative if you can clarify something else. As you know the minibar service last about 2 1/2 hrs. It takes a staff of four about 8 hours to prepare everything almost three times the amount of time to prepare everything well before the people arrive. So if a person sits down and tells us that he or she doesn't eat fish or meat or whatever, it's quite difficult to make the changes on the spot.

I understand that people go into most restaurants and a chef can accommodate a vegetarian diner. BUT in most cases this means a few dishes, tops. A diner cannot come in and expect us to make 34 vegetarian dishes! Nearly impossible. Suppose you made a Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixins and a guest comes over and didn't eat meat? You have bacon in the Brussels sprouts, you made gravy with the drippings, you have oysters and sausage in the stuffing, and there's lard in the pie crust. What do you do? Have them sit there and eat mashed potatoes? You want to accommodate. Imagine having to redo over 3/4 of the menu right then and there!!

We like to wow people and if you give us the chance and pre-warning we will, no doubt. We want as many diners to come and enjoy the minibar experience. For these reasons, we send out forms when they make the reservations. It specifically asks for food restrictions and dietary restrictions. This is such an important process in the minibar reservation. This will allow us to make phone calls to speak to the party or person and make the needed adjustments.

My sous chefs and I personally make these phone calls, since we are the ones cooking the meal and know the menu best in order to ask the right questions. So we ask our customers to please fill out the forms as best as possible. If they are making a reservation for a large party, we ask that they please know the dietary restrictions of their guests.

The woman who said that the minibar was not for seafood eaters, well she said her friend did not eat fish but then she specified that she didn't like fish. If you are not going to experiment or try new things or give us the chance to make you taste things you might not normally eat, well, you have to say so, I WILL NOT EAT FISH. This would be clear. Otherwise we might think you are coming in with an open mind and willing to experience something different. And between you and me, we would never let someone sit there and not eat 50% of the menu. First, we would notice it and second. we would scramble to make the changes.

Katsuya

OVERHEARD LAST MONTH -- AND PASSED ON TO ME:

Famous (and increasingly confident) Washington Chef to Visiting Consultant:

"I've got the food writers eating out of my hand."

Hmmmmm. What's the saying again, the one about whatever goes up must come down? I don't know about the rest of you, but one thing I admire a lot is humility in a person.

Good morning, everyone. Bring on your food thoughts, questions and comments.

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Crystal City, Va.: Roberto Donna has a right to run his restaurant any way he likes, but I think he's made a rather poor decision by opening Bebo Trattoria at 11:30. Unlike the downtown crowd that thinks nothing of starting their work day at 9:30, the denizens of these here high rises start heading out to lunch by 11:00 a.m. Many of us are here by 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning.

Can you use your awesome powers of good to coax Mr Donna into accommodating us hicks and rubes from Virginny? He probably has no idea how many potential customers he's losing to McCormick & Schmick and his other neighbors.

Tom Sietsema: (Hey, hey, hey, some of us are at our PCs at 6:30 a.m.!)

I'll throw out your suggestion, and hope Mr. Donna sees it.

washingtonpost.com: The Weekly Dish: Bebo and Oyamel .

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Tom - Hope you can help! I'm looking for a nice bar/lounge to gather a group of 8-10 friends for a birthday celebration this weekend. Preferably in Alexandria/Arlington area. PX sounded a bit upscale for the occasion, but something along those lines (ie: being able to sit down & actually hear each other) sould be great. Thanks!

Tom Sietsema: What about Vermillion in Old Town or Evening Star Cafe in Arlington?

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Washington, D.C.: Tom, this isn't really a question -- it's more of a rant about the stuffiness of Butterfield 9:

My partner and I had made reservations at Butterfield 9 before the Miss Adams Morgan pageant at 5:30 pm. When the restaurant called to confirm, she explained that she would be in a gorilla suit (King Kong, minus the head) and I wd be Fay Wray (long blonde wig, slinky dress). We were stiffly told costumes were not welcome. We ended up very happily at Inde Bleu where the waiters were hugely amused and plied us with cocktails and a fab dinner.

Tom Sietsema: Interesting. Your missive makes me wonder: Had you reserved at, say, The Prime Rib, would they have let you in provided the monkey had a tie and jacket on?

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Washington, D.C.: How do you rate the various catering companies in DC? Do you have a preferred caterer?

Tom Sietsema: I've only sampled a few catered events (I'm usually in a restaurant, remember), but I've used both Federal City and Susan Gage in the past, for private parties. Both have been terrific.

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17th and Conn.: What's the buzz on PS7?

Tom Sietsema: The public buzz or the private buzz?

Chef Peter Smith's new venture is certainly attracting a lot of curious foodies. One night, I dined there surrounded by three of the city's better-known chefs and managers.

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Washington, D.C.: Are there any chefs/restaurant owners that you just plain don't get along with? Obviously you would not mention who they are but how or does this affect your reviews of their restaurants?

Tom Sietsema: What a great question!

Certainly there are chefs who I admire more than others. But I try really, really, really hard to separate the personal from the professional.

Bottom line: I've given flattering reviews to chefs who have said some really nasty things about me (stuff ALWAYS gets back to me, sometimes in amusing ways) and negative reviews to chefs who are great people but not necessarily at their best in the kitchen.

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Falls Church, Va. : Did the caterers you hired know who you are?

Tom Sietsema: Yes. These were important events and I was the host.

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Alexandria, Va.: Tom,

I really enjoy the chats - thanks for making yourself available. What are your thoughts on wine pairings as an option with tasting menus? Do you consider them a good value, is it case-by-case, etc.? I am particularly thinking of Restaurant Eve as we will be heading there over the coming holidays.

Tom Sietsema: It depends. I'm not a slave to drinking the exact match to every dish, but I appreciate a restaurant that takes the time to come up with complimentary pairings of wine and food. And if Todd Thrasher is doing the pairing, it's bound to be interesting. I say, go for it.

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Arlington, Va.: When someone writes to you to "rant" that they weren't allowed to wear a gorilla suit to an upscale restaurant, don't you think the complaints are going well beyond reasonable?

Tom Sietsema: Well, just as I hit the "send" button I thought of all the patrons at Butterfield 9 for whom the evening might have been a special event (a date, a business meeting) and for whom sitting next to an ape and a scream queen might be uncomfortable. You have a point there.

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Posh: I know you dined at Posh and was wondering if you could clarify something for me. Is it just a restaurant, or is it also a lounge. I am looking for somewhere new to go with friends for drinks, and wanted to know if this fit the bill.

Thanks!

Tom Sietsema: There's a clublike lounge upstairs that opens after the dinner hour, a bar just behind the entrance for earlier in the evening.

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Washington, D.C.: Speaking of PS7, what happened to their GM?

Tom Sietsema: Ah, that's the "private" buzz! Based on my conversations with insiders, the original GM just disappeared one day. Poof!

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Virginia: Do the restaurants you review take your suggestions? How often?

Tom Sietsema: I don't keep a score card or anything, but I frequently hear that such-and-such was changed at a restaurant based on what I've written in a column. Most recent case in point: Le Pigalle now makes its own French fries and desserts.

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Falls Church, Va. : Tom - I am in the midst of planning my company's holiday party and you would not believe the number of restaurants who have ignored my calls or emails - evening star cafe, the oval room, 701, willow... the list goes on. Bummer for them. We'll be spending $200 per person (30+ people) elsewhere.

Tom Sietsema: Yeow! Too bad for all the managers and reservation takers at those restaurants who are going to hear about this problem from their superiors later today (or so I'm betting).

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Tom,

I work for a large PR firm in town, and I recently called Olives for an estimate on holding a 200-person banquet at the restaurant. I left repeated messages for the manager, but no one ever returned my call. I don't recall reading any negatives on your chat about them. Is there something I should know?

Tom Sietsema: This seems to be a bigger problem than I realized, or at least it's getting more play today.

I'm curious about when you're contacting the restaurant. I've found that the best time to call a business is mid-morning or after the lunch rush, when managers have more time to deal with questions such as yours.

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Bethesda, Md.: Hi Tom, I am hoping you can help me out here. I have plans to go to Cafe Atlantico this Saturday. The problem is that I'm not much of a seafood lover so I was wondering if you can recommend any non-fish dishes or inventive cocktails that will help me forget that I'm a non-fish lover. Thank you for your help!

Tom Sietsema: I'm not sure why you have the idea that the restaurant is mostly seafood-oriented; the kitchen grills a nice (flank) steak and offers a lovely feijoada with chicken (at lunch) or pork (at dinner). To wash back the turf, try the rum-fired caipirinha or mojito.

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Adams Morgan Washington, D.C.: Hi Tom,

I am just wondering, do you know if Mandu, the new Korean restaurant in Dupont/Adam's Morgan, that you had mentioned in your Weekly Dish, has opened yet? Tired of driving to Annandale/Rockville for Korean food, and like to walk instead!

Thanks!

Tom Sietsema: "Depending on how things go with the D.C. government," Mandu is poised to open Friday, Nov. 10, according to co-owner Danny Lee.

The Korean restaurant is at 1805 18th St. NW; the phone number is 202-588-1540. Mandu's web site (soon to include a menu) can be found at www.mandudc.com

washingtonpost.com: The Weekly Dish: Mandu .

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Arlington, Va.: I want to respond to the item in last week's chat regarding the name EatBar, Tallula's new dining room. One chatter said the name was a silly attempt to be hip and postmodern. Is it possible the name came from the big neon EAT sign outside the restaurant (all that remains of the former Whitey's)? As a frequent Whitey's patron, I was happy to see they didn't take down the sign. I love Tallula, but Whitey's will always have a special place in Arlington history for me.

Tom Sietsema: Your hunch is correct. After the chat last week, I heard from the restaurant's publicist, Melissa Gold, who sent me the following:

We did go through an extensive process to choose the name for the bar. As we do with all our places, names are put into consideration and eventually get whittled out as we move through development.

EatBar was chosen as an homage to the sign that remains from Whitey's - a beautiful old neon sign shouting EAT to whomever passes by. It has long been a recognized "landmark" in Arlington, and we thought we'd be remiss to ignore something great that's already on the building.

Hopefully, given time, the name will grow on people much as it has with those of us creating EatBar.

Cheers!

Melissa

washingtonpost.com: The Weekly Dish: EatBar

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Steak Lover: Tom,

Looking for great steak restaurant. Dating a guy from the Midwest and he know's his steak so it has to be pretty good.

Thanks

Tom Sietsema: Informal: Ray's the Steaks in Arlington.

Formal: Capital Grille downtown

A Throwback to Yesteryear: The Prime Rib

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Washington, D.C.: Tom, can you explain your star system. Lately your stars don't seem to match your words. Thanks

Tom Sietsema: What don't you understand? Please provide me with an example or two. The key to my star descriptions runs alongside the review in the Magazine each week.

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Downtown, D.C.: how did you become a restaurant critic?

Tom Sietsema: I ate my way to the top!

Seriously, I kind of fell into it. After college, one of my very first jobs was a news aide here at the Post. I remember applying to be both Bob Woodward's and Phyllis Richman's go-fer. I still have Mr. Woodward's "thanks-but-no-thanks" letter in my files at home.

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The Prime Rib: Love the Prime Rib. Is it true that they were the 'inventors' of potato skins? Theirs are the best.

Tom Sietsema: Gosh, potato skins have been around for a long, long, long time now ...

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Falls Church, Va.: We received a gift certificate to Vidalia for our wedding last year, and just never got around to using it. It's now expired by about a month. Do you think we can still use it? I'm hoping a restaurant like Vidalia would be customer-friendly and flexible, but wanted your opinion. Thanks!

Tom Sietsema: I just spoke with manager Khoa Nguyen, who says that while the restaurant prefers to process any gift certificates within a year of purchase, "we're pretty flexible" about accepting late-comers.

(You're lucky. Not every establishment extends the courtesy.)

washingtonpost.com: Review of Vidalia .

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Washington, D.C.: Tom -

Where is the best shrimp and grits in the city? We've tried Palette, Georgia Brown and Creme. (Would rank them in that order.) All have had plusses and minus - still looking for the perfect version.

Thanks!

Tom Sietsema: You need to try the shrimp and grits at Vidalia.

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just a thought: re: PS7 - if its private buzz, shouldn't you keep private any details of the GM's departure?

Tom Sietsema: All I typed was that he left. No more, no less.

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Georgetown Washington, D.C.: Despite Tallula's PR person saying that the process to choose the name was extensive and serves as some sort of homage to Whitey's, it is still a stupid name and is a lame attempt to be hip and postmodern. Just because the naming process is lengthy doesn't make the end result any better than if they'd simply drawn the name out of a hat.

Tom Sietsema: Okay, okay. End of discussion.

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Gorilla, Va.: I am having a hard time imagining how someone in a gorilla suit could sit and eat comfortably in any event!

Oh and a few weeks ago, someone asked about lunch in Old Town? I realized one day while foraging myself that the Old Town Theater sells food apart from movies. And they have sidewalk seating. I had a lovely panini and Old Dominion lager yesterday, eaten outside watching the crowds walk by. Just another option....

Tom Sietsema: That's a new one. Thanks for the tip.

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Washington, D.C.: Interesting comment about the unreturned phone calls. I plan two business dinners a year. Not huge, but it is important to everyone involved that they be lovely events. I have no tolerance for unreturned phone calls, and if someone hasn't gotten back to me after two days they are scratched off the list. Several years ago, I actually talked to a manager once who promised to fax a menu and wine list. He never did, yet he had the audacity to call the day before the event to confirm. As if! But I will say there are some stars. I had an event two years in a row at Morton's in Reston. This fall we were meeting in DC, but the events manager called me to see if we would be back in Reston again. It certainly made an impression!

Tom Sietsema: Returning phone calls -- promptly -- is hugely important. Kudos to Morton's in Reston for following up!

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Washington, D.C.: I'm so glad Chef Fukushima wrote in to respond to last week's comments.

It seems to me that a diner who chooses not to eat certain food items (not because they are allergic or have dietary/religious restrictions but because they just don't like said items) should probably not be dining at Minibar.

Isn't the assumption that the Chef states --that diners are "are coming in with an open mind and willing to experience something different" the whole point of the Minibar experience?

(This is coming from someone who is fed up with diners who want to be accommodated no matter what -- even if they have to "claim" an allergy to get the specific dish they want. Sort of off topic, I know.)

Tom Sietsema: As I said last week, Minibar is best experienced if a diner chooses to go with the flow.

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Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: Regarding cocktails at Cafe Atlantico, have you noticed awhile ago they started to rely upon sour mix instead of freshly squeezed lemon or lime for many of their drinks? They used to have the best Pisco Sour in town, but what they're serving now certainly isn't worth the price. Hopefully someone there is reading this chat and will change the current practice!

Tom Sietsema: Say it ain't so!

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Fairfax, Va.: Don't know if anyone else has mentioned this, but 2941 is sending out postcards with a $25 off coupon to people in its area. We got one a week or so ago. Things must be really bad if they've stooped to mass marketing like this! (Or isn't that the reaction they expected us to have?)

Tom Sietsema: Or, looking at the positive side, perhaps the chef just wants his neighbors to experience his cooking!

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McPherson Square, D.C.: Last week a group of smartly attired 20-30-something women planned a get together at Zaytinya. The organizer called at least a week ahead of time to attempt to make a reservation and was told to just come early and put a name down, then have drinks at the bar until a table was ready. She checked the web site and called the day of event to confirm. Only when people arrived at the restaurant did they find out that it was closed for a private party until 8:30. When confronted with the fact that 10 women would be showing up to a restaurant that was not going to welcome them, the hostess suggested that the group head to another local establishment for drinks and return later for dinner. Why on earth don't restaurants let potential customers know when they will close for private parties? The hosts/hostesses who answer the phone should warn diners who inquire about reservations for the date in question and it should be featured prominently on their web site. In Zaytinya's defense, they did offer a free glass of champagne to our group upon arrival for dinner later, but it did little to make up for the logistical nightmare that had been caused.

Tom Sietsema: You did what you were supposed to do (reconfirm) and Zaytinya let you down. I can't understand why whoever answered the phone wouldn't have known the place was going to be closed to the public til 8:30 p.m. It's all about communication, isn't it?

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Alexandria Va.: Hi Tom,

It doesn't make sense to judge a restaurant by is location!.....

The basement of a bank isn't where'd I'd expect to find a real treat, but what a treat it was. My wife and I spent our honeymoon in Portugal so we decided to have our 1-year anniversary dinner at Tavira.

It was a Tuesday night and we were one of 3 couples. Needless to say it was quit. I would have preferred a more lively.

My friends ordered the roasted baby suckling Pig and we could not have been happier wit our red snapper for 2 baked in sea salt. It was brought to the table steaming hot, where our delightful waiter prepared it for us. Haven't tasted anything that good in a long time. I will conclude by saying our server was charming and informative and made our visit a real memory.

Tom Sietsema: I've long been a fan of the Portuguese restaurant, one of the few in the area.

washingtonpost.com: Review of Tavira .

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Alexandria, Va.: Just got back from New Orleans. The food is as great as ever. Eating our way through, we hit Irene's Thurs dinner(Osso Bucco, whoa!); Galatoire's for Friday lunch (crab stuffed eggplant); Jacques-Imo's (what a fun place, was hopping-Boudin, Blackend lamb, garlic cornbread, wow); NOLA's for lunch Sat., (shrimp & Grits, mmmm); Bayonna for dinner, Susan Spicer is awesome, (the antelope dish, yum); Cafe Degas for Sun brunch, (mussels!); Napoleon's for a maffaleta on Monday lunch, and Commander's Palace, just reopened and wonderful, (veal simply heavenly) - so many more place to try, so little time. Everyone should go down to New Orleans and EAT!!

Tom Sietsema: I agree! (And I did!)

washingtonpost.com: Postcard from Tom: New Orleans .

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Columbia, Md.: My wife and I went to the Cheesecake Factory this weekend and were amazed at the variety in their menu - just about every major cuisine was represented. It begs the question, how do they (and others do it)? My fear/suspicion is that everything is sitting in a freezer and pulled out and quickly heated somehow before being served. I know you tend towards local restaurants, but do you (or any readers) have any insight into how this works? Am I just getting a fancier version of my grocers freezer section when I dine out here or are they really cooking? Thanks!

Tom Sietsema: Gosh, your question deserves more time and thought than I can give in a few seconds here, but let me just say that 1) big menus scare me and 2) it's very difficult for a single kitchen to pull off dozens and dozens of dishes well.

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Alcova Heights, Arlington, Va.: Booking parties (holiday or otherwise) at restaurants.

I handle my office's holiday party. Every year in late Spring I start sending emails to restaurants we are interested in. If I can't find an email I call mid-morning. I usually receive a response in a day or two. I honestly don't think I have never heard back. Restaurants contacted in the past: Olives, Oval Room, Equinox, Gerard's Place, Nora, Vidalia, Morrison Clark, Corduroy.

We have had our party at Oval Room, Equinox, Cordudoy, Vidalia and Nora. They have all done exceptional jobs. But one place did continue to just fill on wine glasses without asking. May I say we were all a bit over served in the end and a little surprised at the bill because of it.

We are headed back to Corduroy and can't wait! Tom Powers did an awesome job last time.

Tom Sietsema: Thanks for the feedback. Party planners, take note.

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Stars: For example, I thought your Ray's review read like some other 3 star reviews from the past.

Tom Sietsema: At the time I made my visits, Ray's the Classics was very good, but not excellent. There were service issues, not all of which I could detail. The decor struck me as a little cold. And there were food issues, most of which I tried to describe. Would I go back on my own? You bet.

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K Street: Tom,

It's funny that you mention Federal City as great caterers. I, too, have heard great things about them, but after sending an initial email that essentially says "I want to spend a large amount of money, and I'm hoping your company can assist in that endeavor", as well as a follow-up, it took five (business) days to get a response. I'm disappointed, because I've heard great things, but have no interest in doing business with people who can't be bothered to return my emails/calls.

Tom Sietsema: A quick, "thanks for your letter, we'll be in touch with you soon" might have been a better response.

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Gorilla Redux: One person's gorilla suit is another person's kids, and another person's allergic sniffling into a hanky, etc.... So, maybe a dress code is but an illusion of control, but we all need our illusions. That said, eating alongside a gorilla probably would have made me smile.

Tom Sietsema: Me too.

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Portuguese restaurants...: "One of the few in the area"? Wait, there are others (love Tavira!)? I'm from Portugal and lonely for my native cuisine. I would greatly appreciate knowing about any other Portuguese restaurants in the area! Thanks, Tom!

Tom Sietsema: Alas, none that I've tried are as good.

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Taillevent, PARIS!!!: Hi Tom, I am fortunate enough to go to Paris this month and MUST know why you did not include this restaurant in your postcards. Is it still worth it? And, since I can barely afford it, should I go for lunch or spring for dinner? Thanks!

Tom Sietsema: I ate at Taillevant a year or so ago and found it safe rather than exciting. I also paid $500 for the two of us -- at lunch.

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For Columbia, Md.: You can rest assured that most chains serve a lot of preprepared and frozen foods. Its how they keep costs low (food and staff costs) and "quality" consistent.

Tom Sietsema: Uh huh.

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Bethesda, Md.: Hi Tom! My parents are coming next weekend to celebrate my 23rd birthday. As a new entry to the working force I rarely have the opportunity to eat in a nice restaurant. Do you have any suggestions for a place in the Bethesda area that my Parents and I can go to for my birthday dinner? We are wonderful eaters and love everything from Thai to Greek. Any sorts of suggestion will be helpful.

Tom Sietsema: Two of my favorite destinations in Bethesda include the spare-but-stylish David Craig (modern American) on St. Elmo Ave. and the colorful-and-casual Raku (pan-Asian) on Woodmont Ave.

washingtonpost.com: Reviews of David Craig and Raku .

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Vienna, Va.: Hi Tom - I know you get questions about where to host rehearsal dinners/pre-wedding events from time to time, so I wanted to throw out some praise for Whitlow's on Wilson in Arlington, where we had a pre-wedding event for my sister recently. They closed off their "Sand Bar" section for the party, and it was a great casual event before a very formal wedding the next day. The event went off wonderfully, the food was great - very creative - and the service even better. We had our own private bar and plenty of cocktail servers, a carving station, and they were willing to accommodate just about any request. Just wanted to give props to a great local spot, and to provide everyone with an alternative to the same old Buca de Beppo/Maggianos Rehearsal Dinner.

Tom Sietsema: Thanks for sharing an original idea. Sounds like fun.

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Arlington, Va.: Hi Tom. My husband and I are looking for a fantastic restaurant for Thanksgiving, and could use your guidance. It's just the two of us, and for this meal, cost is no object. We're hoping for a menu that features some sort of turkey fare, but the menu does not have to be a traditional thanksgiving meal.

We thought about Citronelle, but when I called, the woman who answered the phone informed me that they were doing a buffet...I was shocked, because for that kind of money, I absolutely expect table service. So--do you know of any fantastic restaurants that are opened on November 23? Thanks!

Tom Sietsema: Get on the phone, pronto, and see if Seasons, Vidalia, the Oval Room, Charlie Palmer Steak or Bistro Bis have a free table for the two of you Nov. 23.

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Two Amy's: Stop going to 2 Amy's! My wife and I can't get our seat at the bar thanks to that third star!

Tom Sietsema: Maybe the kitchen should start burning the crusts to keep back the hungry hordes? Maybe the bar should start pouring swill at $12 a tumbler? ;)

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returned calls: A while back I had a great experience with returned calls

and accommodating me from Coppi's. I had a broken ankle

and was on crutches when I organized a friend's birthday

outing. I called Coppi's to discuss this with them and the

person said that he'd ask the manager to call me back to

talk to me. The manager did, and made my friends and

me very comfortable at a secluded table where I wouldn't

get tripped over. It's care can and concern like that which

are the - uh - icing on the cake.

Tom Sietsema: A round of applause for Coppi's!

And that wraps up another hour of food chat. See you next week, folks.

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