Got Plans?: Olympic hockey, gallery openings and restaurants with great champagne

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The Going Out Gurus
of The Washington Post's Going Out Guide
Thursday, February 25, 2010; 1:00 PM

The Going Out Guide staff discussed The Going Out Guide staff discussed Olympic hockey, gallery openings and restaurants with great champagne on Thursday, Feb. 25, at 1 p.m. ET.

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washingtonpost.com: Olympic hockey, high school reunions, happy hours and more. We're the Going Out Gurus, and we're yours for the next hour. Have at it, chatters.

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Museums: In addition to O'Keefe at Philipps and the Chester Dale collection at NGA, are there any other exhibits (art or otherwise, i.e at American History, etc.) that I should have on my "to see" list for the next couple of months?

Stephanie Merry: The Josef Albers show at the Hirshhorn is fantastic; in addition to a bunch of his "Homage to the Square" paintings, there are some really interesting optical illusion displays that show color in a whole new light. You're running out of time to see Yinka Shonibare at the African Art Museum, so you may want to hit that up sooner rather than later. And then there are some seriously awe-inspiring landscape photos of the Wild West at the American Art Museum.

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The burbs...: Dearest GOGs, Are there any restaurants in D.C. (say Penn Quarter or Dupont) that are good and have a nice atmosphere, yet where the average entree price is not $25?

Julia Beizer: Dearest reader, yes, there are, but I feel your pain. Particularly in PQ, the average entree cost has been inching up for a while. The entrees at Matchbox are in the price range you mention, but if you just order pizza, it's not too bad. Ella's is cheap too. Oyamel also comes to mind, but since it offers small plates, you spend as much as you order. Haven't been to Ping Pong Dim Sum (I know, I know), but that could work. (For the record, Tom didn't like it.) There's also Asia Nine, which is okay -- just had happy hour there last week -- but doesn't blow my mind or anything.

In Dupont, I like Pizzaria Paradiso, cantina at Darlington House and Maddy's (more of a bar).

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Washington D.C.: Hey GOGs! My husband and I are dining at Marcel's this Saturday night before we head to the Kennedy Center to catch Seinfeld. Couple of questions for you - are there any upscale bars within walking distance that we could hit before/after dinner? We don't want to drive because we plan on utilizing Marcel's shuttle service to/from the Kennedy Center. Also, any tips regarding the restaurant - fancy attire, soft jazz and french cuisine right? Thanks a ton in advance.

Fritz Hahn: Not an expert on Marcel's -- your tips sound about right -- but I can help with the nearby bars. My go-tos are the lounge at the Circle Bistro (inside the One Washington Circle hotel) and the tiny little back bar at Notti Bianche.

Circle Bistro's lounge is a sunny space with a fireplace, jazzy music and a late-night weekend happy hour (half-price drinks between 8:30 and 11). I'd probably try there first.

But Notti Bianchi's back bar, which only has six seats and a pair of small tables -- is such a wonderful hideaway that I'd consider it as well.

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Washington, D.C. : I have a champagne (sparkling wine...whatever) snob/food critic coming to town for dinner tonight. I've been told to pick the place, but I have no idea who has both good bubbly and food. Got any suggestions? Area: D.C. Metro, but note that I live in Cap Hill. Price: Not a big factor, but reasonable.

Thanks. Beer Snob

Julia Beizer: We say Proof -- your best bet for a food + champagne combo.

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NW D.C.: New to D.C. from Philly. So last time you guys gave me some great advice so I am asking for your help again.

I am going to be in Capitol Hill for a suit and tie event that ends around 9 and I need a place to go after for some light food and a few drinks. Looking for 20s to early 30s crowd of beautiful women. Your help once again is appreciated.

Fritz Hahn: For a dressy Capitol Hill crowd, I'd head for Lounge 201. Good flatbreads and snacks, solid martinis, crowd that's a little older than intern age. I'd also suggest Capitol Lounge if you want somewhere a little livelier. There's something about the food/drink upgrade that's made the place more fun.

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Washington, D.C.: Hello all. I need a restaurant recommendation for brunch this Sunday, for two couples, who each have 3-year-olds. The last time we met this same couple for brunch, both ladies were pregnant with the 3-year-olds and we ate at Bistro Bistro in Shirlington. Again that was three years ago without the kids. Can you recommend a kid-friendly brunch spot? Thanks

Anne Kenderdine: I was just at the Spring Valley location of Chef Geoff's for Sunday brunch last week, and I swear, there was a kid or a stroller at nearly every table. And there were two women at the bar with a teeny tiny baby. The kids menu is not your normal kids menu. There's pizza and a little asterisk at the bottom saying they can do chicken fingers if you want, but really it's just smaller portions and somewhat simpler versions of the regular menu. They'll bring you crayons plus chocolate banana bread and fruit for all, so you can ward off the hunger pains. And if the kids won't sit still, get up and go dance to the live jazz -- the musicians last week totally humored us, as did all the wait staff.

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Dupont Circle: Do you have any inside scoop on what the judges of the Peeps Diorama Contest are looking for in winning entries? And will the top entries be displayed at Artomatic again? Love this contest!

Julia Beizer: I don't have an inside scoop on anything Peeps-related (despite having a fantastic night of drinks with the Queen of Peeps on Monday), but I can remind you of this, dear readers. The deadline is Monday, March 1 at 11:59 p.m.

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Arlington, Va.: Hey Gurus, As a relatively longtime Columbia Pike resident, I'm pretty amped about the new dining/drinking spots popping up in my hood. You got any scoop on Twisted Vines? Should I head to the "soft opening" this weekend, or wait for the Grand Opening next weekend? Also, any info on when P. Brennan's will be ready to pour me a pint or two?

Fritz Hahn: Twisted Vines sounds a lot like the (relatively) nearby Screwtop -- wine bar with an attached wine store so if you like the unusual/independent glass of wine you're sipping, you can buy a bottle on your way out. (I am all for this trend, btw -- saves having to take cameraphone pictures of labels in bad light if you want to remember which Cotes du Ventoux you're enjoying.)

I haven't been yet, but everything I've heard -- smaller producers, daily happy hours, free weekend tastings -- sounds like I'm going to enjoy it. If you do go to the soft opening, remember to be patient while they work the kinks out.

As for P. Brennan's, the Irish pub going in to the Halstead development, at South Walter Reed and Columbia Pike -- the last time I looked at the bar's in-progress Facebook page, it mentioned trying to get open in time for St. Patrick's Day. Cross your fingers.

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Capitol Hill: Dearest Darling Gurus,

I just love your chats, and was hoping you could help me out with a restaurant choice for tonight. Today is my 24th birthday, and I'm looking forward to going out to supper with my boyfriend and 2 or 3 friends this evening. Any suggestions on where to go? I'm about half way between Barracks Row and H St, so either of those neighborhoods would be great, or anything on the hill really. I'd love to go somewhere chill, fun, with good comfort food and drinks. Probably not Matchbox, though, since we go there all the time.

Thank you so much!

Julia Beizer: Too bad Ted's Bulletin isn't open yet. Cava doesn't serve comfort food, but I really like the atmosphere for a celebration such as yours. Get the halloumi sliders or you'll regret it. Seventh Hill Pizza is worth trying if you're Matchbox junkies; really, really good pies. Sadly, the seating space is SUPER limited, so I'm not sure it's best for tonight.

Maybe Granville Moore's? Haven't been there in a while.

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Washington, D.C.: Is there a centralized website where I can find out future Gallery Openings around town? I know about first friday in Dupont, but is there a website that you can recommend? I always seem to miss the openings.

Thx! DC art lover.

Stephanie Merry: If you head to the Going Out Guide Museums page and click on "opening soon," you'll get back a list of what's coming up. You can also check out the Weekend section on Fridays, which has (unless things are really slow) a gallery opening pick of the week.

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U Street, D.C.: I admit I have never cared about hockey before, but ever since the US beat Canada, I am hooked. Where is a fun place to watch the Canada-Slovakia match on Friday night, and the medal games during the weekend? Are there any bars that are especially Canada-friendly or pro-USA? I prefer near U Street, or at least in NW, but anywhere in the city would be cool (although preferably not Gallery Place).

Alex Baldinger: We're getting lots of questions on this today; who said D.C. wasn't a hockey town?

The U.S. plays a semifinal match against Finland Friday at 3. You can bet that if you wander over to any of the city's sports bars, like Buffalo Billiards, you'll find plenty of TVs tuned to the game.

Speaking of Buffalo, Team USA's rock-solid goalie Ryan Miller plays for the Buffalo Sabres of the NHL. Jimmy's Old Town Tavern in Herndon is a Sabres bar, and they'll have all the bars TVs on the game in surround sound. Hockey heads in DC know that Bugsy's in Old Town is always a great place to watch hockey; it's owned by former Cap Bryan 'Bugsy' Watson, after all.

Other bars that we know will be showing Team USA: Lucky Bar and Union Jack's Ballston which normally draws a big crowd from the rec league players from nearby Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Speaking of which, Front Page Arlington is a favorite hangout of many Caps players, so if you catch the game there, who knows who you might bump into.

Now, onto the Canada-Slovakia match at 9 p.m. You'll be competing with Friday night bar crowds at many places, but one place you can bet on having a captive hockey audience: Penn Quarter Sports Tavern. It's just around the corner from the Canadian Embassy and a huge crowd of staffers reportedly watched last night's Russia-Canada match there. So if you're looking to root on our neighbo(u)rs to the north, that's your best bet.

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Gaithersburg, Md.: Hey Gurus -- I'm hoping you'll answer my question since Tom didn't yesterday. A friend and I are going to see Henry V at the Shakespeare Theater next Wednesday, and we're trying to decide on where to go for dinner beforehand. If you had to choose between Proof, Jaleo and Oyamel, where would you go?

Julia Beizer: I would choose Proof. More expensive than the other two, but totally utterly worth it. Sincerely, Tom's plucky sidekick.

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Needing to Feel the City Vibe: Now that I work and live in the suburbs, I have the craving to spend a Saturday in the city, and hit up some cool shops, a gallery or two, a good cafe, etc. Any neighborhood recommendations, and names of specific businesses I should check out?

Fritz Hahn: Around 14th and U is the obvious but strong answer for me. You've got all the cool shops in the 1500 and 1600 blocks of U -- Nana, Millennium, Caramel, Shoefly, and more on 14th itself in the form of Redeem, Go Mama Go, Home Rule, Miss Pixie's, and the always-excellent Som Records for music shopping. Also on 14th, you've got a good selection of galleries -- Hemphill, Transformer, etc. There's Cork Market if you need gourmet cheese and affordable wine to take home. And you can pop into Bar Pilar for brunch or grab some amazing brews at ChurchKey (now open at noon).

That sounds like one of the best Saturdays going, honestly.

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Bubbly: Proof stopped their champagne cart more than a year ago -- does any other place do something similar?

Julia Beizer: We don't know of any other places that do this. Chatters, let us know if we've overlooked some place.

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Thanks, Fritz.: I wrote in a few weeks ago about finding a romantic, cozy, low-key place to have dinner and chase away the cold days of winter that we've been enduring atypically around here. You suggested Tabard Inn, which was ideal, so I wanted to write in and thank you for your excellent recommendation.

Fritz Hahn: Now for the followup: Bistro Lepic. Totally my favorite place to stop in on an off (not Tuesday or weekend) night. Great wines, great bartenders, dimly lit and warm. It's really romantic.

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Arlington, Va.: Where would be a good place to watch US Hockey Friday at 3? Any chance the Canadian Embassy is going to show more games?

Alex Baldinger: The Canadian Embassy is planning to host viewing parties for tonight's women's final and Sunday's gold medal game, but here's the catch: they're invite only. If you watched the U.S.-Canada game there on Sunday, however, you should have received an invite, so check your e-mail and RSVP.

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Celebrations!: My wife just finished her CPA exam and wants to celebrate this weekend. The problem is shes always on one diet or another (not that she needs one) so a nice dinner is out of the question... Any other suggestions?

Fritz Hahn: Hundred-calorie cocktails and an eat-healthy bar menu at PS7? (You'll like them too. I swear.)

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Julia Beizer: An update on Peeps. This just in from the "ringleader" of Peeps (not to be confused with the Queen, who is more like the Princess of Internet Peeps this year): "We're looking for funny stuff, up-to-date cultural references, and artistic experiments, as a start. A few tips: Dioramas that are overly bloody/violent rarely make it to the semifinals, nor do the run-of-the-mill historic representations. (ie, "We the Peeple"). This year's top entries will be displayed in the Post's lobby, so you can still check them out in person."

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Capitol Hill: Hi Gurus- I know this question is somewhat standard, but endlessly challenging. I'm looking for a good spot for this Saturday to celebrate entering the last year of my twenty's. My friends and I are somewhat stumped. In an ideal world, we're looking for a chill, but loungey kind of place that isnt so crowded you can't move, with tasty cocktails and a "post-get-drunk-and-puke-on-yourself" crowd. I love Russia House, but we celebrated a birthday there recently, so I dont want to repeat? Ideas? Anything particularly cool going on this weekend that would make a place we go all the time worth going again? What about Passenger? I was considering that, but have never been. Thanks Gurus. You rock!

Fritz Hahn: Passenger would be good, especially if you can score one of those huge booths in the window. Great cocktails made to order, fun music, definitely mid-20s/30s crowd. Just be warned -- it CAN get crowded on weekends. A friend of mine was going to meet me there one Saturday, but he got there first, and they were at capacity and not letting anyone in. (This was around 11 p.m.)

Science Club would also be on my list -- the downstairs bar seems built for this kind of thing. Upstairs at Bourbon in Adams Morgan, if you can bring yourself to go to the neighborhood, because they have a DJ to go along with well-made drinks. 1905 is a fairly solid choice, too, especially if you like Absinthe.

Oh, since you're on the Hill, have you been to Wisdom yet? Cocktails, loungey atmosphere and a little off the beaten path.

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Georgetown: I want to take my mom to afternoon tea on her birthday this year -- it falls on a Sunday. Unfortunately, the Willard is not doing theirs until the end of March. Any other recommendations?

julia: Not sure when her birthday is, but look into the tea options at the Mandarin Oriental and the Park Hyatt. Those places might work for you.

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Outside Food, D.C.: What's the rule on bringing outside food into a bar in D.C.? Say if we're gathering for a birthday celebration on the early side of a Saturday night at a bar, is it kosher to bring cupcakes or will I be forced to leave the boxes on the sidewalk?

Fritz Hahn: The rule is generally that you call a place and ask, and don't just show up with food in hand. That's kind of rude.

Now, if the place doesn't sell food -- like Iron Horse Tavern, Rocket Bar, Bedrock/Atomic Billiards, Aroma, etc. -- then you're more than welcome to BYO snacks.

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Washington, D.C.: Marcel's has a very nice bar. You can always come back from the Kennedy Center in the sedan and finish a bottle of wine (they'll keep your bottle from dinner for you) or have dessert.

Fritz Hahn: Great to know. Thanks.

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Tenleytown: Help!I'm bored, sick of winter and broke. What can my boyfriend and I do this weekend? I only have plans Saturday night. Thanks Gurus!

Stephanie Merry: What kinds of things do you guys like? Help me help you! Tomorrow night you can catch a pay-what-you-can performance of "Amazons and Their Men," which sounds particularly promising. The always entertaining Landless Theater is putting on "High Fidelity: The Musical," too, which should be fun.

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Arlington, Va: I have to be in Lorton on Saturday afternoon for a luncheon. I may be early and have some time to explore. I'll be East of 95.

Google maps shows Belmont Park and Mason Neck State Park in the general vicinity.

A preference for either? Any other suggestions?

Fritz Hahn: I've actually been to Mason Neck, though it was in warmer weather. Lots of birdwatching opportunities and plenty of water views and trails if you want to wander.

Chatters? Any thoughts? (It's supposed to be sunny and in the 40s on Saturday.)

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Movie mama?: Oh great and glorious gurus,

I'll be heading off for maternity leave soon, and I seem to recall reading about movie theaters in the area that show matinee movies during the week specifically aimed at moms bringing babies. Does that ring any bells and, if so, where can I find such welcoming places? Thanks very much!

Anne Kenderdine: Yep, that was the good old days. I hate to burst your bubble, but I don't know of any places doing that anymore. (If there is still such a wondrous offering, mamas, please speak up!) My take: if you go to the very first screening of the day of a movie that's been out for a while, there will hardly be anyone else there. So if you sit where you can escape easily if Baby is getting noisy, I think you'd be fine. But bring a friend for moral support.

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Canadian Embassy: For those who got the invite for the gold medal hockey games: The men's gold medal game is on a wait-list. There is space for the women's game. Do not try to just show up and crash the event, because they check names.

Alex Baldinger: Yep, just got off the phone with the Embassy. If you RSVP'd for last weekend's game, you definitely should have received an invite to tonight's game. Sunday's gold-medal game is already full, however.

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Washington, D.C.: How about Napoleon in Adams Morgan for champagne?

Fritz Hahn: Yes, certainly, for champagne cocktails. But the food isn't in the same neighborhood as Proof's.

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Hockey watching: Canadian here: O'Sullivan's in Arlington is also a good choice if you want a pro-Canadian crowd. The place was crawling with Canadians for the Canada-U.S. game on Sunday and I'm sure they'll have a bunch more tomorrow evening.

Fritz Hahn: Thanks. Didn't seem to be too many at ChurchKey during the game, even though they're technically a "Canada bar" for the Olympics, with poutine and very tasty Canadian microbrews on the menu and a giant maple leaf flag next to the taps.

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Washington, D.C.: I am looking for a good early dinner place in Bethesda for Saturday. Ideally it would be inexpensive with a great atmosphere. Any suggestions?

Julia Beizer: Mia's and Louisiana Kitchen could both work for your purpose.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Gang,

So if one were looking for a scene similar to the late, lamented 1223, where would one go?

Fritz Hahn: Lima, Lotus or Josephine. Lima's probably the closest if you're looking for dancing.

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Washington, D.C.: D.C. art lover follow-up: Thanks so much! I was actually inquiring about Gallery Opening parties, where you can mix and mingle with artists, art lovers, and collectors while sipping white wine and looking at work from local or other artists. I don't think the museum opening parties are open to the public, no?

Thanks again!

Stephanie Merry: Right, sorry to confuse you. The Weekend's pick of the week always concerns an opening reception. On the GOG Museums page, we list openings for galleries as well as museums, it's just that there aren't many this weekend, which is why you aren't seeing them! The "opening soon" link doesn't separate gallery openings from museum openings, but that might be a good idea, and something to think about. I have a solution in mind, but need to think it over, so come back next week and I'll try to have a better way for you to search the Guide for opening parties.

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March Events and Hockey Tickets: Any fun events coming up in March? All I could see on the website was Shamrock Fest and I've been there done that. On another note, I'd love to go see a Caps game but the cheapest seats seem to be $65. Are there ways to get cheaper seats? I remember when you could go last minute for $20.

Anne Kenderdine: Uh, what? What site are you looking at? There's a lot more than the Shamrock Fest in March. You might start with this list of picks for next month. And Stephanie just today told you about the best theater to see. I'll hand you over to Alex for more ideas and for your Caps hook-up.

Alex Baldinger: Those $20 days were great, except for the fact that, you know, the team wasn't winning very much back then. My how things have changed. Take it from a season ticket holder on this one: your best bet is to scour Craigslist the day of the game and get your tickets from someone who can't go last-minute. You'll get better deals on midweek games against non-marquee opponents (March 4 vs. Tampa, March 8 vs. Dallas, March 10 vs. Carolina) than you will for the big-time, weekend games, like March 6 vs. New York or March 24 against Pittsburgh. For more tips, check out this story we did back in November on this very topic (click on 'Sports' on the left-hand side).

Alex Baldinger: And while that March 24 game against Pittsburgh is actually on a Wednesday, you're really going to have to search around for tickets to that big showdown.

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D.C.: A fairly open ended question (that struck me a couple weekends ago while moving from one packed place to the next)... does the District need more bars? All types, neighborhood pubs, dives, clubs, wine. I say yes.

Julia Beizer: Interesting question. I suppose what I'd like to see instead is more neighborhood bars, instead of just more establishments crowding the hot nightlife districts in town. Seems like every neighborhood should be so lucky as to have a great sandwich shop (working on a sandwich story right now, forgive my monomaniacal look at the world), a great restaurant and a great bar. As you might expect, a lot of neighborhoods in this town feel differently (and thus object to new liquor licenses, etc.)

Fritz Hahn: I'll cosign with Julia. I hate neighborhood zoning regulations and the idea that you have to put all bars and restaurants in convenient nightlife strips. It's how you wind up with the chaos that is Adams Morgan on a weekend night. What's wrong with neighborhood bars on sidestreets or interspersed among other non-restaurant/bar businesses?

We also need more large dance clubs. We only have Fur, Ibiza, Town and the Scene left, and the latter is kinda sketchy to me.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Gurus! Love the chats!

I'm trying to help a friend plan a (small) high school reunion at a bar in the district but we've run into a few roadblocks - we're looking for someplace we can rent space for about 50 people or so on a Saturday night for about 3 or 4 hours, starting around 7. So far the roadblocks have consisted of places not renting space on a Saturday night. Can you recommend any place that might entertain such an idea? Places we've tried included Bardeo in Cleveland Park, PS 7's, Churchkey, Masa 14, etc. Thanks!

Stephanie Merry: I actually just had my high school reunion recently, and we went to Lima. It was a perfectly fine venue and it's centrally located, which is a plus. Another idea: One of my friends is throwing a party this weekend and renting out 1905, and she says they have been a dream to work with, so that might be another possibility for you.

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Washington, D.C.: Hey, Gurus -- I am looking for jewelry repair recommendations. I checked past chats and, sadly, the one place you recommended a few years ago (Lynn's?) is now just a by-appointment private seller. Bonus points if the recommendation is for something in D.C.! Thanks!

Julia Beizer: Oh, man, I totally wish I had written down the name of this place. Got my husband's watch fixed at this little jewelry shop at 14th and New York Ave. and they did a great job. Google Street View seems to indicate that the name of the place is Beharry Jewelers. Hope this helps!

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Bored and broke: For the person who's bored, broke and sick of snow - there's nothing better than FREE stuff: check out the orchid exhibit at the US Botanic Garden near the Capitol and then hit up your favorite free Smithsonian museum!

Stephanie Merry: Totally. This is the place to be for free entertainment. I especially like the Botanic Garden rec -- some flowers should be a nice antidote to the cold weather.

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Arlington, Va.: Hi Gurus! My husband's 30th birthday is coming up this June, and I'm pretty sure he's expecting a big bash. Can you please recommend some locations (bars/restaurants) where space can be rented for 20 - 30 people for an evening? I'd like somewhere in DC or Northern Virginia with a semi-private space preferably with our own bar/bartender. He's really into different types of beers - somewhere with a decent beer list would be a bonus (but not mandatory). Thanks for any help!

Fritz Hahn: Try the back room of RFD. They have 10 draft lines back there, and you can pick what beers (from their current selection) you want to put on, then have your own bartender to talk about them.

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Bethesda, Md.: Can I get a recommendation for a casual bar/restaurant for drinks for a larger group of late 20-somethings to celebrate an engagement near Friendship Heights metro on the early evening-ish side? Right now we were thinking Clyde's of Chevy Chase.

Julia Beizer: Funny, I celebrated an engagement at Clyde's in Gallery Place. I think Clyde's could be your best bet. Chadwick's is another option.

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Arlington: Does anyone know why (and when) Yaku closed? Any idea what will be taking over its space? I'm bummed because I really liked that place.

Fritz Hahn: I liked it too. A lot. One of my favorite Arlington happy hours. The guys who own Public Bar are turning it into "Rock and Roll Sushi," which sounds like a ... a competitor for Sticky Rice, I guess. We'll see if it's any good.

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Washington, D.C.: Lots of people piling on the Brickskeller in Tom's chat yesterday with complaints about service, beer selection and food, and I have to say those all ring true to me. I really don't like having to order four different beers just to get one.

I'm curious if that mirrors your experiences and if you still recommend the bar. Maybe I'm doing something wrong?

Fritz Hahn: Service and being out of beers on the menu that I want to try are my main complaints about the place, too. I used to go fairly often, but with the advent of Birreria Paradiso, ChurchKey, Beck, Rustico, etc., I find myself there less. (It's the disappearing servers, ones who don't know too much about the beers, etc., that really bug me.)

I still like the place for beer tastings, which no one else around here can match, and they do get good beers on draft (and in bottle specials).

But the difference between the bar at ChurchKey, where your bartender can rattle off tons of details about the beer he's about to pour, and my experience with servers at the Brick who barely get beyond "What can I get you?" is night and day.

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Petworth: For the 30th birthday person - Buffalo Billiards has private and semi-private rooms, and they have good beer.

Fritz Hahn: Yep on both counts. Thanks.

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Washington, DC: I officially have the hockey bug. Do you know of a place where a beginner can rent equipment and start playing? Thanks.

Alex Baldinger: From Weekend/GOG hockey correspondent Justin Rude:

Good news first: Hockey is a wonderful sport, and its never too late to pick it up. In fact, three of us play recreational ice hockey in area leagues. Bad news: ice hockey is not a cheap sport and there is no real way to get around that. Many area arenas offer both beginner and advanced skating classes specifically for the hockey. I have taken hockey classes at both Fairfax Ice Arena and Kettler Capitals Iceplex and had good experiences at both. Both recommend or require basic skating proficiency before you get to the hockey stuff though, so if you are in a rush to strap on pads and get on the ice, your best bet is Hockey North America, which runs leagues locally and nationally and has a good beginning hockey program.

Here is where price comes in: classes I have taken have run between $100 and $150 for a half dozen or so lessons, and at HNA a full winter season of hockey (22 games) is around $500, or around $250 for a half-length spring or summer season. And we haven't even gotten to equipment.

Play It Again Sports used to be the go-to place for used hockey gear, but my best advice these days would be to keep your eye on Craigslist if you are absolutely set on used equipment. If you watch Hockey Monkey or Hockey Giant for clearance items, you can often find new gear for great prices. With a little luck, you can find a starter pads set for under $100, like this one. That covers you for elbow, shin and chest protection, which means you only need pants, skates, a helmet, a stick and a couple pucks.

And here is the best advice I can offer: when getting skates and a helmet you really don't want to skimp. Save yourself future pain and discomfort by going to an arena pro-shop for these. My favorites are at Kettler, Rockville and Ashburn. Proper skate fit is key, and you really don't want to mess around with a helmet that doesn't fully protect you, so have one of the pro-shop employees help you pick one out and get it properly adjusted to fit.

I hope this isn't discouraging, hockey is a great sport with a great local community of players and its well worth the effort it takes to learn. Hope to see you on the ice!

Alex Baldinger: I would also add that if you're just looking to get a feel for skating, it's easy enough to rent skates at any of the area rinks linked above for a public skating session. Though a properly-fitting skate is going to feel way better than a communal rental.

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Richmond, Va.: Hey Gurus! We'll be visiting the area this weekend with our 4-year-old son. We're staying with family in Rockville, so MD area suggestions are great, too. We've done the Air & Space and the Natural History museums, and suspect it will be too cold for the National Zoo. What would you suggest for a Saturday distraction? He loves trains, so bonus points for Metro accessibility.

Stephanie Merry: The Building Museum is particularly kid-friendly, with a "building zone" where children can play. The American History Museum is also having its Black History Month Family Day. A lot of the activities sound like they may be geared to slightly older kids, but there will be a puppet show and some musical performances that might be fun for a 4-year-old.

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Washington, D.C.: For the person who is throwing the high school reunion, last summer I rented out a room in Tabaq (it was the room downstairs) for a slightly smaller group and it worked great. They rent out other rooms as well if that room is too small for your gruop. If I remember correctly there was no fee, just a minimum you had to spend on drinks and/or food. We brought our own ipod and hooked it up to the sound system.

Stephanie Merry: Thanks for the intel.

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Restaurant Deals: Hey GOGs,

Thanks for posting that some D.C.-area restaurants are offering specials or deal in order to make up for some lost business due to winter weather. Has anyone tried the deal at Potenza? Is is worth it? Do you know what the deal is comprised of -- food offering, Chianti offering (I'm assuming that it's three tastes of different chianti that makes for the flight, right?) Are the food offerings basic spaghetti and meatballs or can you pick something a little more interesting from the entire menu? Unclear as to how it works and if it really is a good deal?

Love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks

Julia Beizer: I'm sorry, I don't. I just called the restaurant and no one could immediately give me more information (or at least timely enough info to make it into the live chat:). My advice would be to call and speak to a manager or a host/ess about the special (202-638-4444), if you're strongly considering it. One of the challenges of "specials" like the ones I wrote about this morning is that they take a fair amount of "buyer beware." As you can see from the PDF of specials; some of the language is pretty vague. If you're on the fence about a place, call to make absolutely clear what their specials are before venturing out.

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Boyfriend's 21st Birthday: Hey Gogs! I'm submitting way early because I have class during chat, but this question is way too urgent/super important to wait. It's my boyfriend's 21st birthday and I want to take him out to DC this Friday to celebrate. He's a little hesitant because he's never been out before and has no idea what the scene is like. I want to take him some place that will be fun and a new experience for him, but not somewhere that will make him uncomfortable.

1) He's not into the whole club scene, but he likes reggae music so I was thinking Patty Boom Boom. If we went that route, when should we be there by, before it gets too crowded?

2) If you guys have any other suggestions, I'd really appreciate it. He's a pretty laid back guy, he's really casual and likes beer. Any part of DC is fine, but metro accessibility is important since we're coming in from Arlington. Also, no place that has a strict dress code.

I just want to make this a memorable and fun 21st birthday for my sweetie, please help a girl out!

Fritz Hahn: What a great girlfriend.

Patty Boom Boom would be perfect -- Red Stripe beer, lots of dancing, no dress code, and the best reggae soundsystem around. If you can get there around 10, that would be ideal. Maybe 9:30 if you want to check it out before the masses show up, and maybe snag a seat.

Other laid-back, not-too-expensive places with good beer and a fun crowd: The Passenger (yeah, the cocktails get top billing, but they have a good drafts), the Red Derby and the Black Squirrel.

Or, if you're sticking in Arlington, Galaxy Hut fits the bill. You might make it your new watering hole.

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Capitol Hill: I'm hoping the gurus can offer me some sage dining advice. My parents will be visiting this weekend and I need a good idea for a restaurant for Dad's birthday dinner Saturday night. Two years ago for his birthday we went to Brasserie Beck, which he LOVED (he's a big beer fan - recently started brewing his own). I'm trying to come up with another good beer place that also has really good food, but so far the only idea I have is Belga Cafe. How is Cafe Berlin? Worth it? Other ideas?

Fritz Hahn: ChurchKey has some awesome food to go along with 50 drafts and 500 bottle selections. And I'm a huge fan of the pizza (as well as the beer) at Birreria Paradiso. For something that's way more casual, the Black Squirrel has a great menu (chef came from Marcel's) and an interesting beer menu.

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Washington, D.C.: Hey Gurus! Going to Churchkey for the 1st time tomorrow for happy hour - do you think it will be too crowded at that time? Are there any other good bar/clubs nearby? Thanks!

Fritz Hahn: Depends what time you get there -- Churchkey can have lines out the door after work. I generally avoid it then. Nearby, the top choice is Stoney's, I think.

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Washington, D.C.: I have 10 p.m.dinner reservations tomorrow night at J&G. Looking for someplace fun and close (short cab ride) to go after for some drinks...maybe a lounge-type environment with good music. Please don't suggest POV. It will be a few women in our mid-late 20s (I can't yet bring myself to just say late 20s). Thanks.

Fritz Hahn: Le Bar at the Sofitel if you want some nice cocktails in a retro/deco environment. The Park at 14th or Recess (right around the corner) if you want to go dancing as well.

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washingtonpost.com: Alright folks, that does it for us. Thanks for stopping by today to what was a surprisingly hockey-heavy chat. We'll catch up with you next week; until then, let's go U.S.A!

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The Going Out Gurus write about restaurants, bars, movies, the arts, special events and visitor attractions, and they're out every night to keep you on top of the D.C. entertainment scene. Check in with them throughout the week on the GOG Blog or join their live Q&A every Thursday at 1 p.m.

Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.

on Thursday, Feb. 25, at 1 p.m. ET.

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washingtonpost.com: Olympic hockey, high school reunions, happy hours and more. We're the Going Out Gurus, and we're yours for the next hour. Have at it, chatters.

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Museums: In addition to O'Keefe at Philipps and the Chester Dale collection at NGA, are there any other exhibits (art or otherwise, i.e at American History, etc.) that I should have on my "to see" list for the next couple of months?

Stephanie Merry: The Josef Albers show at the Hirshhorn is fantastic; in addition to a bunch of his "Homage to the Square" paintings, there are some really interesting optical illusion displays that show color in a whole new light. You're running out of time to see Yinka Shonibare at the African Art Museum, so you may want to hit that up sooner rather than later. And then there are some seriously awe-inspiring landscape photos of the Wild West at the American Art Museum.

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The burbs...: Dearest GOGs, Are there any restaurants in D.C. (say Penn Quarter or Dupont) that are good and have a nice atmosphere, yet where the average entree price is not $25?

Julia Beizer: Dearest reader, yes, there are, but I feel your pain. Particularly in PQ, the average entree cost has been inching up for a while. The entrees at Matchbox are in the price range you mention, but if you just order pizza, it's not too bad. Ella's is cheap too. Oyamel also comes to mind, but since it offers small plates, you spend as much as you order. Haven't been to Ping Pong Dim Sum (I know, I know), but that could work. (For the record, Tom didn't like it.) There's also Asia Nine, which is okay -- just had happy hour there last week -- but doesn't blow my mind or anything.

In Dupont, I like Pizzaria Paradiso, cantina at Darlington House and Maddy's (more of a bar).

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Washington D.C.: Hey GOGs! My husband and I are dining at Marcel's this Saturday night before we head to the Kennedy Center to catch Seinfeld. Couple of questions for you - are there any upscale bars within walking distance that we could hit before/after dinner? We don't want to drive because we plan on utilizing Marcel's shuttle service to/from the Kennedy Center. Also, any tips regarding the restaurant - fancy attire, soft jazz and french cuisine right? Thanks a ton in advance.

Fritz Hahn: Not an expert on Marcel's -- your tips sound about right -- but I can help with the nearby bars. My go-tos are the lounge at the Circle Bistro (inside the One Washington Circle hotel) and the tiny little back bar at Notti Bianche.

Circle Bistro's lounge is a sunny space with a fireplace, jazzy music and a late-night weekend happy hour (half-price drinks between 8:30 and 11). I'd probably try there first.

But Notti Bianchi's back bar, which only has six seats and a pair of small tables -- is such a wonderful hideaway that I'd consider it as well.

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Washington, D.C. : I have a champagne (sparkling wine...whatever) snob/food critic coming to town for dinner tonight. I've been told to pick the place, but I have no idea who has both good bubbly and food. Got any suggestions? Area: D.C. Metro, but note that I live in Cap Hill. Price: Not a big factor, but reasonable.

Thanks. Beer Snob

Julia Beizer: We say Proof -- your best bet for a food + champagne combo.

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NW D.C.: New to D.C. from Philly. So last time you guys gave me some great advice so I am asking for your help again.

I am going to be in Capitol Hill for a suit and tie event that ends around 9 and I need a place to go after for some light food and a few drinks. Looking for 20s to early 30s crowd of beautiful women. Your help once again is appreciated.

Fritz Hahn: For a dressy Capitol Hill crowd, I'd head for Lounge 201. Good flatbreads and snacks, solid martinis, crowd that's a little older than intern age. I'd also suggest Capitol Lounge if you want somewhere a little livelier. There's something about the food/drink upgrade that's made the place more fun.

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Washington, D.C.: Hello all. I need a restaurant recommendation for brunch this Sunday, for two couples, who each have 3-year-olds. The last time we met this same couple for brunch, both ladies were pregnant with the 3-year-olds and we ate at Bistro Bistro in Shirlington. Again that was three years ago without the kids. Can you recommend a kid-friendly brunch spot? Thanks

Anne Kenderdine: I was just at the Spring Valley location of Chef Geoff's for Sunday brunch last week, and I swear, there was a kid or a stroller at nearly every table. And there were two women at the bar with a teeny tiny baby. The kids menu is not your normal kids menu. There's pizza and a little asterisk at the bottom saying they can do chicken fingers if you want, but really it's just smaller portions and somewhat simpler versions of the regular menu. They'll bring you crayons plus chocolate banana bread and fruit for all, so you can ward off the hunger pains. And if the kids won't sit still, get up and go dance to the live jazz -- the musicians last week totally humored us, as did all the wait staff.

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Dupont Circle: Do you have any inside scoop on what the judges of the Peeps Diorama Contest are looking for in winning entries? And will the top entries be displayed at Artomatic again? Love this contest!

Julia Beizer: I don't have an inside scoop on anything Peeps-related (despite having a fantastic night of drinks with the Queen of Peeps on Monday), but I can remind you of this, dear readers. The deadline is Monday, March 1 at 11:59 p.m.

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Arlington, Va.: Hey Gurus, As a relatively longtime Columbia Pike resident, I'm pretty amped about the new dining/drinking spots popping up in my hood. You got any scoop on Twisted Vines? Should I head to the "soft opening" this weekend, or wait for the Grand Opening next weekend? Also, any info on when P. Brennan's will be ready to pour me a pint or two?

Fritz Hahn: Twisted Vines sounds a lot like the (relatively) nearby Screwtop -- wine bar with an attached wine store so if you like the unusual/independent glass of wine you're sipping, you can buy a bottle on your way out. (I am all for this trend, btw -- saves having to take cameraphone pictures of labels in bad light if you want to remember which Cotes du Ventoux you're enjoying.)

I haven't been yet, but everything I've heard -- smaller producers, daily happy hours, free weekend tastings -- sounds like I'm going to enjoy it. If you do go to the soft opening, remember to be patient while they work the kinks out.

As for P. Brennan's, the Irish pub going in to the Halstead development, at South Walter Reed and Columbia Pike -- the last time I looked at the bar's in-progress Facebook page, it mentioned trying to get open in time for St. Patrick's Day. Cross your fingers.

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Capitol Hill: Dearest Darling Gurus,

I just love your chats, and was hoping you could help me out with a restaurant choice for tonight. Today is my 24th birthday, and I'm looking forward to going out to supper with my boyfriend and 2 or 3 friends this evening. Any suggestions on where to go? I'm about half way between Barracks Row and H St, so either of those neighborhoods would be great, or anything on the hill really. I'd love to go somewhere chill, fun, with good comfort food and drinks. Probably not Matchbox, though, since we go there all the time.

Thank you so much!

Julia Beizer: Too bad Ted's Bulletin isn't open yet. Cava doesn't serve comfort food, but I really like the atmosphere for a celebration such as yours. Get the halloumi sliders or you'll regret it. Seventh Hill Pizza is worth trying if you're Matchbox junkies; really, really good pies. Sadly, the seating space is SUPER limited, so I'm not sure it's best for tonight.

Maybe Granville Moore's? Haven't been there in a while.

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Washington, D.C.: Is there a centralized website where I can find out future Gallery Openings around town? I know about first friday in Dupont, but is there a website that you can recommend? I always seem to miss the openings.

Thx! DC art lover.

Stephanie Merry: If you head to the Going Out Guide Museums page and click on "opening soon," you'll get back a list of what's coming up. You can also check out the Weekend section on Fridays, which has (unless things are really slow) a gallery opening pick of the week.

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U Street, D.C.: I admit I have never cared about hockey before, but ever since the US beat Canada, I am hooked. Where is a fun place to watch the Canada-Slovakia match on Friday night, and the medal games during the weekend? Are there any bars that are especially Canada-friendly or pro-USA? I prefer near U Street, or at least in NW, but anywhere in the city would be cool (although preferably not Gallery Place).

Alex Baldinger: We're getting lots of questions on this today; who said D.C. wasn't a hockey town?

The U.S. plays a semifinal match against Finland Friday at 3. You can bet that if you wander over to any of the city's sports bars, like Buffalo Billiards, you'll find plenty of TVs tuned to the game.

Speaking of Buffalo, Team USA's rock-solid goalie Ryan Miller plays for the Buffalo Sabres of the NHL. Jimmy's Old Town Tavern in Herndon is a Sabres bar, and they'll have all the bars TVs on the game in surround sound. Hockey heads in DC know that Bugsy's in Old Town is always a great place to watch hockey; it's owned by former Cap Bryan 'Bugsy' Watson, after all.

Other bars that we know will be showing Team USA: Lucky Bar and Union Jack's Ballston which normally draws a big crowd from the rec league players from nearby Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Speaking of which, Front Page Arlington is a favorite hangout of many Caps players, so if you catch the game there, who knows who you might bump into.

Now, onto the Canada-Slovakia match at 9 p.m. You'll be competing with Friday night bar crowds at many places, but one place you can bet on having a captive hockey audience: Penn Quarter Sports Tavern. It's just around the corner from the Canadian Embassy and a huge crowd of staffers reportedly watched last night's Russia-Canada match there. So if you're looking to root on our neighbo(u)rs to the north, that's your best bet.

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Gaithersburg, Md.: Hey Gurus -- I'm hoping you'll answer my question since Tom didn't yesterday. A friend and I are going to see Henry V at the Shakespeare Theater next Wednesday, and we're trying to decide on where to go for dinner beforehand. If you had to choose between Proof, Jaleo and Oyamel, where would you go?

Julia Beizer: I would choose Proof. More expensive than the other two, but totally utterly worth it. Sincerely, Tom's plucky sidekick.

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Needing to Feel the City Vibe: Now that I work and live in the suburbs, I have the craving to spend a Saturday in the city, and hit up some cool shops, a gallery or two, a good cafe, etc. Any neighborhood recommendations, and names of specific businesses I should check out?

Fritz Hahn: Around 14th and U is the obvious but strong answer for me. You've got all the cool shops in the 1500 and 1600 blocks of U -- Nana, Millennium, Caramel, Shoefly, and more on 14th itself in the form of Redeem, Go Mama Go, Home Rule, Miss Pixie's, and the always-excellent Som Records for music shopping. Also on 14th, you've got a good selection of galleries -- Hemphill, Transformer, etc. There's Cork Market if you need gourmet cheese and affordable wine to take home. And you can pop into Bar Pilar for brunch or grab some amazing brews at ChurchKey (now open at noon).

That sounds like one of the best Saturdays going, honestly.

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Bubbly: Proof stopped their champagne cart more than a year ago -- does any other place do something similar?

Julia Beizer: We don't know of any other places that do this. Chatters, let us know if we've overlooked some place.

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Thanks, Fritz.: I wrote in a few weeks ago about finding a romantic, cozy, low-key place to have dinner and chase away the cold days of winter that we've been enduring atypically around here. You suggested Tabard Inn, which was ideal, so I wanted to write in and thank you for your excellent recommendation.

Fritz Hahn: Now for the followup: Bistro Lepic. Totally my favorite place to stop in on an off (not Tuesday or weekend) night. Great wines, great bartenders, dimly lit and warm. It's really romantic.

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Arlington, Va.: Where would be a good place to watch US Hockey Friday at 3? Any chance the Canadian Embassy is going to show more games?

Alex Baldinger: The Canadian Embassy is planning to host viewing parties for tonight's women's final and Sunday's gold medal game, but here's the catch: they're invite only. If you watched the U.S.-Canada game there on Sunday, however, you should have received an invite, so check your e-mail and RSVP.

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Celebrations!: My wife just finished her CPA exam and wants to celebrate this weekend. The problem is shes always on one diet or another (not that she needs one) so a nice dinner is out of the question... Any other suggestions?

Fritz Hahn: Hundred-calorie cocktails and an eat-healthy bar menu at PS7? (You'll like them too. I swear.)

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Julia Beizer: An update on Peeps. This just in from the "ringleader" of Peeps (not to be confused with the Queen, who is more like the Princess of Internet Peeps this year): "We're looking for funny stuff, up-to-date cultural references, and artistic experiments, as a start. A few tips: Dioramas that are overly bloody/violent rarely make it to the semifinals, nor do the run-of-the-mill historic representations. (ie, "We the Peeple"). This year's top entries will be displayed in the Post's lobby, so you can still check them out in person."

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Capitol Hill: Hi Gurus- I know this question is somewhat standard, but endlessly challenging. I'm looking for a good spot for this Saturday to celebrate entering the last year of my twenty's. My friends and I are somewhat stumped. In an ideal world, we're looking for a chill, but loungey kind of place that isnt so crowded you can't move, with tasty cocktails and a "post-get-drunk-and-puke-on-yourself" crowd. I love Russia House, but we celebrated a birthday there recently, so I dont want to repeat? Ideas? Anything particularly cool going on this weekend that would make a place we go all the time worth going again? What about Passenger? I was considering that, but have never been. Thanks Gurus. You rock!

Fritz Hahn: Passenger would be good, especially if you can score one of those huge booths in the window. Great cocktails made to order, fun music, definitely mid-20s/30s crowd. Just be warned -- it CAN get crowded on weekends. A friend of mine was going to meet me there one Saturday, but he got there first, and they were at capacity and not letting anyone in. (This was around 11 p.m.)

Science Club would also be on my list -- the downstairs bar seems built for this kind of thing. Upstairs at Bourbon in Adams Morgan, if you can bring yourself to go to the neighborhood, because they have a DJ to go along with well-made drinks. 1905 is a fairly solid choice, too, especially if you like Absinthe.

Oh, since you're on the Hill, have you been to Wisdom yet? Cocktails, loungey atmosphere and a little off the beaten path.

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Georgetown: I want to take my mom to afternoon tea on her birthday this year -- it falls on a Sunday. Unfortunately, the Willard is not doing theirs until the end of March. Any other recommendations?

julia: Not sure when her birthday is, but look into the tea options at the Mandarin Oriental and the Park Hyatt. Those places might work for you.

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Outside Food, D.C.: What's the rule on bringing outside food into a bar in D.C.? Say if we're gathering for a birthday celebration on the early side of a Saturday night at a bar, is it kosher to bring cupcakes or will I be forced to leave the boxes on the sidewalk?

Fritz Hahn: The rule is generally that you call a place and ask, and don't just show up with food in hand. That's kind of rude.

Now, if the place doesn't sell food -- like Iron Horse Tavern, Rocket Bar, Bedrock/Atomic Billiards, Aroma, etc. -- then you're more than welcome to BYO snacks.

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Washington, D.C.: Marcel's has a very nice bar. You can always come back from the Kennedy Center in the sedan and finish a bottle of wine (they'll keep your bottle from dinner for you) or have dessert.

Fritz Hahn: Great to know. Thanks.

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Tenleytown: Help!I'm bored, sick of winter and broke. What can my boyfriend and I do this weekend? I only have plans Saturday night. Thanks Gurus!

Stephanie Merry: What kinds of things do you guys like? Help me help you! Tomorrow night you can catch a pay-what-you-can performance of "Amazons and Their Men," which sounds particularly promising. The always entertaining Landless Theater is putting on "High Fidelity: The Musical," too, which should be fun.

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Arlington, Va: I have to be in Lorton on Saturday afternoon for a luncheon. I may be early and have some time to explore. I'll be East of 95.

Google maps shows Belmont Park and Mason Neck State Park in the general vicinity.

A preference for either? Any other suggestions?

Fritz Hahn: I've actually been to Mason Neck, though it was in warmer weather. Lots of birdwatching opportunities and plenty of water views and trails if you want to wander.

Chatters? Any thoughts? (It's supposed to be sunny and in the 40s on Saturday.)

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Movie mama?: Oh great and glorious gurus,

I'll be heading off for maternity leave soon, and I seem to recall reading about movie theaters in the area that show matinee movies during the week specifically aimed at moms bringing babies. Does that ring any bells and, if so, where can I find such welcoming places? Thanks very much!

Anne Kenderdine: Yep, that was the good old days. I hate to burst your bubble, but I don't know of any places doing that anymore. (If there is still such a wondrous offering, mamas, please speak up!) My take: if you go to the very first screening of the day of a movie that's been out for a while, there will hardly be anyone else there. So if you sit where you can escape easily if Baby is getting noisy, I think you'd be fine. But bring a friend for moral support.

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Canadian Embassy: For those who got the invite for the gold medal hockey games: The men's gold medal game is on a wait-list. There is space for the women's game. Do not try to just show up and crash the event, because they check names.

Alex Baldinger: Yep, just got off the phone with the Embassy. If you RSVP'd for last weekend's game, you definitely should have received an invite to tonight's game. Sunday's gold-medal game is already full, however.

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Washington, D.C.: How about Napoleon in Adams Morgan for champagne?

Fritz Hahn: Yes, certainly, for champagne cocktails. But the food isn't in the same neighborhood as Proof's.

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Hockey watching: Canadian here: O'Sullivan's in Arlington is also a good choice if you want a pro-Canadian crowd. The place was crawling with Canadians for the Canada-U.S. game on Sunday and I'm sure they'll have a bunch more tomorrow evening.

Fritz Hahn: Thanks. Didn't seem to be too many at ChurchKey during the game, even though they're technically a "Canada bar" for the Olympics, with poutine and very tasty Canadian microbrews on the menu and a giant maple leaf flag next to the taps.

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Washington, D.C.: I am looking for a good early dinner place in Bethesda for Saturday. Ideally it would be inexpensive with a great atmosphere. Any suggestions?

Julia Beizer: Mia's and Louisiana Kitchen could both work for your purpose.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Gang,

So if one were looking for a scene similar to the late, lamented 1223, where would one go?

Fritz Hahn: Lima, Lotus or Josephine. Lima's probably the closest if you're looking for dancing.

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Washington, D.C.: D.C. art lover follow-up: Thanks so much! I was actually inquiring about Gallery Opening parties, where you can mix and mingle with artists, art lovers, and collectors while sipping white wine and looking at work from local or other artists. I don't think the museum opening parties are open to the public, no?

Thanks again!

Stephanie Merry: Right, sorry to confuse you. The Weekend's pick of the week always concerns an opening reception. On the GOG Museums page, we list openings for galleries as well as museums, it's just that there aren't many this weekend, which is why you aren't seeing them! The "opening soon" link doesn't separate gallery openings from museum openings, but that might be a good idea, and something to think about. I have a solution in mind, but need to think it over, so come back next week and I'll try to have a better way for you to search the Guide for opening parties.

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March Events and Hockey Tickets: Any fun events coming up in March? All I could see on the website was Shamrock Fest and I've been there done that. On another note, I'd love to go see a Caps game but the cheapest seats seem to be $65. Are there ways to get cheaper seats? I remember when you could go last minute for $20.

Anne Kenderdine: Uh, what? What site are you looking at? There's a lot more than the Shamrock Fest in March. You might start with this list of picks for next month. And Stephanie just today told you about the best theater to see. I'll hand you over to Alex for more ideas and for your Caps hook-up.

Alex Baldinger: Those $20 days were great, except for the fact that, you know, the team wasn't winning very much back then. My how things have changed. Take it from a season ticket holder on this one: your best bet is to scour Craigslist the day of the game and get your tickets from someone who can't go last-minute. You'll get better deals on midweek games against non-marquee opponents (March 4 vs. Tampa, March 8 vs. Dallas, March 10 vs. Carolina) than you will for the big-time, weekend games, like March 6 vs. New York or March 24 against Pittsburgh. For more tips, check out this story we did back in November on this very topic (click on 'Sports' on the left-hand side).

Alex Baldinger: And while that March 24 game against Pittsburgh is actually on a Wednesday, you're really going to have to search around for tickets to that big showdown.

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D.C.: A fairly open ended question (that struck me a couple weekends ago while moving from one packed place to the next)... does the District need more bars? All types, neighborhood pubs, dives, clubs, wine. I say yes.

Julia Beizer: Interesting question. I suppose what I'd like to see instead is more neighborhood bars, instead of just more establishments crowding the hot nightlife districts in town. Seems like every neighborhood should be so lucky as to have a great sandwich shop (working on a sandwich story right now, forgive my monomaniacal look at the world), a great restaurant and a great bar. As you might expect, a lot of neighborhoods in this town feel differently (and thus object to new liquor licenses, etc.)

Fritz Hahn: I'll cosign with Julia. I hate neighborhood zoning regulations and the idea that you have to put all bars and restaurants in convenient nightlife strips. It's how you wind up with the chaos that is Adams Morgan on a weekend night. What's wrong with neighborhood bars on sidestreets or interspersed among other non-restaurant/bar businesses?

We also need more large dance clubs. We only have Fur, Ibiza, Town and the Scene left, and the latter is kinda sketchy to me.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Gurus! Love the chats!

I'm trying to help a friend plan a (small) high school reunion at a bar in the district but we've run into a few roadblocks - we're looking for someplace we can rent space for about 50 people or so on a Saturday night for about 3 or 4 hours, starting around 7. So far the roadblocks have consisted of places not renting space on a Saturday night. Can you recommend any place that might entertain such an idea? Places we've tried included Bardeo in Cleveland Park, PS 7's, Churchkey, Masa 14, etc. Thanks!

Stephanie Merry: I actually just had my high school reunion recently, and we went to Lima. It was a perfectly fine venue and it's centrally located, which is a plus. Another idea: One of my friends is throwing a party this weekend and renting out 1905, and she says they have been a dream to work with, so that might be another possibility for you.

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Washington, D.C.: Hey, Gurus -- I am looking for jewelry repair recommendations. I checked past chats and, sadly, the one place you recommended a few years ago (Lynn's?) is now just a by-appointment private seller. Bonus points if the recommendation is for something in D.C.! Thanks!

Julia Beizer: Oh, man, I totally wish I had written down the name of this place. Got my husband's watch fixed at this little jewelry shop at 14th and New York Ave. and they did a great job. Google Street View seems to indicate that the name of the place is Beharry Jewelers. Hope this helps!

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Bored and broke: For the person who's bored, broke and sick of snow - there's nothing better than FREE stuff: check out the orchid exhibit at the US Botanic Garden near the Capitol and then hit up your favorite free Smithsonian museum!

Stephanie Merry: Totally. This is the place to be for free entertainment. I especially like the Botanic Garden rec -- some flowers should be a nice antidote to the cold weather.

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Arlington, Va.: Hi Gurus! My husband's 30th birthday is coming up this June, and I'm pretty sure he's expecting a big bash. Can you please recommend some locations (bars/restaurants) where space can be rented for 20 - 30 people for an evening? I'd like somewhere in DC or Northern Virginia with a semi-private space preferably with our own bar/bartender. He's really into different types of beers - somewhere with a decent beer list would be a bonus (but not mandatory). Thanks for any help!

Fritz Hahn: Try the back room of RFD. They have 10 draft lines back there, and you can pick what beers (from their current selection) you want to put on, then have your own bartender to talk about them.

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Bethesda, Md.: Can I get a recommendation for a casual bar/restaurant for drinks for a larger group of late 20-somethings to celebrate an engagement near Friendship Heights metro on the early evening-ish side? Right now we were thinking Clyde's of Chevy Chase.

Julia Beizer: Funny, I celebrated an engagement at Clyde's in Gallery Place. I think Clyde's could be your best bet. Chadwick's is another option.

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Arlington: Does anyone know why (and when) Yaku closed? Any idea what will be taking over its space? I'm bummed because I really liked that place.

Fritz Hahn: I liked it too. A lot. One of my favorite Arlington happy hours. The guys who own Public Bar are turning it into "Rock and Roll Sushi," which sounds like a ... a competitor for Sticky Rice, I guess. We'll see if it's any good.

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Washington, D.C.: Lots of people piling on the Brickskeller in Tom's chat yesterday with complaints about service, beer selection and food, and I have to say those all ring true to me. I really don't like having to order four different beers just to get one.

I'm curious if that mirrors your experiences and if you still recommend the bar. Maybe I'm doing something wrong?

Fritz Hahn: Service and being out of beers on the menu that I want to try are my main complaints about the place, too. I used to go fairly often, but with the advent of Birreria Paradiso, ChurchKey, Beck, Rustico, etc., I find myself there less. (It's the disappearing servers, ones who don't know too much about the beers, etc., that really bug me.)

I still like the place for beer tastings, which no one else around here can match, and they do get good beers on draft (and in bottle specials).

But the difference between the bar at ChurchKey, where your bartender can rattle off tons of details about the beer he's about to pour, and my experience with servers at the Brick who barely get beyond "What can I get you?" is night and day.

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Petworth: For the 30th birthday person - Buffalo Billiards has private and semi-private rooms, and they have good beer.

Fritz Hahn: Yep on both counts. Thanks.

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Washington, DC: I officially have the hockey bug. Do you know of a place where a beginner can rent equipment and start playing? Thanks.

Alex Baldinger: From Weekend/GOG hockey correspondent Justin Rude:

Good news first: Hockey is a wonderful sport, and its never too late to pick it up. In fact, three of us play recreational ice hockey in area leagues. Bad news: ice hockey is not a cheap sport and there is no real way to get around that. Many area arenas offer both beginner and advanced skating classes specifically for the hockey. I have taken hockey classes at both Fairfax Ice Arena and Kettler Capitals Iceplex and had good experiences at both. Both recommend or require basic skating proficiency before you get to the hockey stuff though, so if you are in a rush to strap on pads and get on the ice, your best bet is Hockey North America, which runs leagues locally and nationally and has a good beginning hockey program.

Here is where price comes in: classes I have taken have run between $100 and $150 for a half dozen or so lessons, and at HNA a full winter season of hockey (22 games) is around $500, or around $250 for a half-length spring or summer season. And we haven't even gotten to equipment.

Play It Again Sports used to be the go-to place for used hockey gear, but my best advice these days would be to keep your eye on Craigslist if you are absolutely set on used equipment. If you watch Hockey Monkey or Hockey Giant for clearance items, you can often find new gear for great prices. With a little luck, you can find a starter pads set for under $100, like this one. That covers you for elbow, shin and chest protection, which means you only need pants, skates, a helmet, a stick and a couple pucks.

And here is the best advice I can offer: when getting skates and a helmet you really don't want to skimp. Save yourself future pain and discomfort by going to an arena pro-shop for these. My favorites are at Kettler, Rockville and Ashburn. Proper skate fit is key, and you really don't want to mess around with a helmet that doesn't fully protect you, so have one of the pro-shop employees help you pick one out and get it properly adjusted to fit.

I hope this isn't discouraging, hockey is a great sport with a great local community of players and its well worth the effort it takes to learn. Hope to see you on the ice!

Alex Baldinger: I would also add that if you're just looking to get a feel for skating, it's easy enough to rent skates at any of the area rinks linked above for a public skating session. Though a properly-fitting skate is going to feel way better than a communal rental.

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Richmond, Va.: Hey Gurus! We'll be visiting the area this weekend with our 4-year-old son. We're staying with family in Rockville, so MD area suggestions are great, too. We've done the Air & Space and the Natural History museums, and suspect it will be too cold for the National Zoo. What would you suggest for a Saturday distraction? He loves trains, so bonus points for Metro accessibility.

Stephanie Merry: The Building Museum is particularly kid-friendly, with a "building zone" where children can play. The American History Museum is also having its Black History Month Family Day. A lot of the activities sound like they may be geared to slightly older kids, but there will be a puppet show and some musical performances that might be fun for a 4-year-old.

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Washington, D.C.: For the person who is throwing the high school reunion, last summer I rented out a room in Tabaq (it was the room downstairs) for a slightly smaller group and it worked great. They rent out other rooms as well if that room is too small for your gruop. If I remember correctly there was no fee, just a minimum you had to spend on drinks and/or food. We brought our own ipod and hooked it up to the sound system.

Stephanie Merry: Thanks for the intel.

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Restaurant Deals: Hey GOGs,

Thanks for posting that some D.C.-area restaurants are offering specials or deal in order to make up for some lost business due to winter weather. Has anyone tried the deal at Potenza? Is is worth it? Do you know what the deal is comprised of -- food offering, Chianti offering (I'm assuming that it's three tastes of different chianti that makes for the flight, right?) Are the food offerings basic spaghetti and meatballs or can you pick something a little more interesting from the entire menu? Unclear as to how it works and if it really is a good deal?

Love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks

Julia Beizer: I'm sorry, I don't. I just called the restaurant and no one could immediately give me more information (or at least timely enough info to make it into the live chat:). My advice would be to call and speak to a manager or a host/ess about the special (202-638-4444), if you're strongly considering it. One of the challenges of "specials" like the ones I wrote about this morning is that they take a fair amount of "buyer beware." As you can see from the PDF of specials; some of the language is pretty vague. If you're on the fence about a place, call to make absolutely clear what their specials are before venturing out.

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Boyfriend's 21st Birthday: Hey Gogs! I'm submitting way early because I have class during chat, but this question is way too urgent/super important to wait. It's my boyfriend's 21st birthday and I want to take him out to DC this Friday to celebrate. He's a little hesitant because he's never been out before and has no idea what the scene is like. I want to take him some place that will be fun and a new experience for him, but not somewhere that will make him uncomfortable.

1) He's not into the whole club scene, but he likes reggae music so I was thinking Patty Boom Boom. If we went that route, when should we be there by, before it gets too crowded?

2) If you guys have any other suggestions, I'd really appreciate it. He's a pretty laid back guy, he's really casual and likes beer. Any part of DC is fine, but metro accessibility is important since we're coming in from Arlington. Also, no place that has a strict dress code.

I just want to make this a memorable and fun 21st birthday for my sweetie, please help a girl out!

Fritz Hahn: What a great girlfriend.

Patty Boom Boom would be perfect -- Red Stripe beer, lots of dancing, no dress code, and the best reggae soundsystem around. If you can get there around 10, that would be ideal. Maybe 9:30 if you want to check it out before the masses show up, and maybe snag a seat.

Other laid-back, not-too-expensive places with good beer and a fun crowd: The Passenger (yeah, the cocktails get top billing, but they have a good drafts), the Red Derby and the Black Squirrel.

Or, if you're sticking in Arlington, Galaxy Hut fits the bill. You might make it your new watering hole.

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Capitol Hill: I'm hoping the gurus can offer me some sage dining advice. My parents will be visiting this weekend and I need a good idea for a restaurant for Dad's birthday dinner Saturday night. Two years ago for his birthday we went to Brasserie Beck, which he LOVED (he's a big beer fan - recently started brewing his own). I'm trying to come up with another good beer place that also has really good food, but so far the only idea I have is Belga Cafe. How is Cafe Berlin? Worth it? Other ideas?

Fritz Hahn: ChurchKey has some awesome food to go along with 50 drafts and 500 bottle selections. And I'm a huge fan of the pizza (as well as the beer) at Birreria Paradiso. For something that's way more casual, the Black Squirrel has a great menu (chef came from Marcel's) and an interesting beer menu.

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Washington, D.C.: Hey Gurus! Going to Churchkey for the 1st time tomorrow for happy hour - do you think it will be too crowded at that time? Are there any other good bar/clubs nearby? Thanks!

Fritz Hahn: Depends what time you get there -- Churchkey can have lines out the door after work. I generally avoid it then. Nearby, the top choice is Stoney's, I think.

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Washington, D.C.: I have 10 p.m.dinner reservations tomorrow night at J&G. Looking for someplace fun and close (short cab ride) to go after for some drinks...maybe a lounge-type environment with good music. Please don't suggest POV. It will be a few women in our mid-late 20s (I can't yet bring myself to just say late 20s). Thanks.

Fritz Hahn: Le Bar at the Sofitel if you want some nice cocktails in a retro/deco environment. The Park at 14th or Recess (right around the corner) if you want to go dancing as well.

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washingtonpost.com: Alright folks, that does it for us. Thanks for stopping by today to what was a surprisingly hockey-heavy chat. We'll catch up with you next week; until then, let's go U.S.A!

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The Going Out Gurus write about restaurants, bars, movies, the arts, special events and visitor attractions, and they're out every night to keep you on top of the D.C. entertainment scene. Check in with them throughout the week on the GOG Blog or join their live Q&A every Thursday at 1 p.m.

Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


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