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Even better at Eventide

We recently celebrated a birthday at Eventide in Arlington, Va., a popular fine dining restaurant in the Clarendon area that is known for its fabulous rooftop experience. It was a bit cold for April, so this time we dined in the main dining room, which has to be one of the best designed in Northern Virginia. And I’m not just talking about decor: Our party of four was comfortably seated at a table that was not a mere 4 inches from another table. The impossibly crowded dining rooms that seem characteristic of Northern Virginia’s better restaurants have long been a complaint of mine, so it’s nice to dine with my chosen company and not complete strangers.

Our meal was good, no complaints — I had the forest mushroom and ricotta tortellini with green lentils and black truffle butter sauce — but I think I’ve more enjoyed our meals in the bar. I can’t tell you why exactly; maybe it’s because my palate is only slightly more sophisticated than a 7-year-old’s. Though perhaps it’s because I enjoy small bites of a lot of flavors, and the lounge menu certainly offers that. The truffle French fries and soft pretzels are our favorites, and the pulled-bison barbecue sliders are must-tastes.

For the more serious diners, the main menu is changed seasonally. Most recently, the features included the aforementioned tortellini, Scottish salmon with fiddlehead ferns and sweet peas, and a beef tenderloin with carmelized fingerling potatoes, asparagus and a sherry brown butter emulsion.

On the Web: eventiderestaurant.com

Where in the World: 3165 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22201-4420

Phone: 703.276.3165

Diners Advisory: Reservations are not accepted for the roof.

Hours (Bar): Tuesday-Saturday: Opens at 5 p.m.
Hours (Main Dining Room): Tuesday-Saturday: 5:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m.

Eventide on Yelp

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Room to grow in the nation’s capital

20110323-073313.jpgA nice thing about having house guests is they help you rediscover your immediate world, sometimes by mistake. A recent excursion to the National Zoo was a bust, so our guests suggested a trip to the U.S. Botanic Garden, one of my favorite area attractions that I hadn’t thought of mentioning. It was a beautiful day and lots of people had journeyed to the District to make the most of the not-winter weather, so I expected to battle crowds similar to those we had encountered trying to get to the zoo. As it happened, everyone was either at the zoo — or on the National Mall — so lucky us.

The garden, though filled with people, wasn’t packed, and we enjoyed a leisurely visit that proved far more enjoyable than an afternoon spent crowded around a smelly cage hoping for a glimpse of a bear that sleeps 20 hours a day. No, the specimens we saw that Saturday were very much alive and thriving, and the garden’s many exhibits provided something for everyone. For me, the orchids were the stars of the show, far more striking than my phone’s camera shots can show here.

If you’re in Washington and find yourself with a free afternoon to spend far from the maddening crowds, try enjoying a quiet bit of Eden at the U.S. Botanic Garden.

20110323-073546.jpgWhere in the world: 100 Maryland Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20001

On Google Maps: Here

Where on the Web: USBG.gov

Admission: Free

Phone: 202.225.8333

Conservatory hours: 10 a.m – 5 p.m.,
including weekends and holidays
National Garden hours: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Bartholdi Park hours: Dawn to dusk,
including weekends and holidays

Visitor’s advisory: Eat before you go or pack a lunch. There are no dining options at the gardens.

On Yelp: Here

On Gowalla: Here

On foursquare: Here