It always sounds like a great idea when we make the plans: a bunch of friends hitting three great spots in one evening with a cocktail at one restaurant, dinner at another and dessert at a third. But the reality is that one libation turns into two, with appetizers at the bar, and everyone eventually feels unmotivated (and maybe a little too tipsy) to move on.
West End Wednesdays, a structured progressive dinner party launched in Washington, D.C. in April and already sold out through mid-June, takes the planning — and the possibility of plans collapsing — out of diners’ hands. Each week guests can purchase one of a dozen $100 tickets admitting them to a four-course culinary tour of Ris, Marcel’s, Westend Bistro and Blue Duck Tavern.
The restaurants trade off small-plate courses and the menu changes monthly — a trait that has already attracted repeat customers. An evening might start off with a grilled octopus salad with feta dressing and preserved lemon at chef Ris Lacoste’s eponymous refined-comfort-food restaurant at The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C. Sashay across the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel’s lobby to Westend Bistro for perhaps lobster crostino or duck liver mousse. All four courses arrive with a paired beer, wine or cocktail.
Then the restaurant manager, who acts as a guide, escorts you to the next location, lest you stray. The group strolls a few blocks to Marcel’s, where chef Robert Wiedmaier might serve his filet mignon tartare, tart and spicy with cornichons and a quail egg. (Marcel’s is a particularly special addition, since the usual menu is prix fixe and between four and seven courses.) Then it’s off to Blue Duck Tavern at Park Hyatt Washington for a classic artisanal American dessert of Meyer lemon icebox cake with Tasmanian pepper meringue or a rocky road cookie with vanilla ice cream.
Each restaurant is set with a communal table for 12, so expect a lively debate about who won for best course of the intimate evening.
Photos Courtesy of Blue Duck Tavern and The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company LLC