A Capital Eating Experience

Years ago I decided to spend money on restaurant dining, and my credit card summary bears that out. Half my spending happens in restaurants and bars, but I’m not surprised. What may be surprising is that I don’t actually eat out that often. Broken down, it looks like I go out for approximately two very nice meals per month. Years ago I also decided that those meals out were more valuable to me if they were fewer nicer rather than often average. This is how/why I’ve developed my “worth ┬áit” metrics and why the whole restaurant experience is so important.

(Note: When it comes to liquor, drinking in fancy bars or restaurants is actually often a better deal than boozing at a middling spot. A bourbon at a nicer place is often twice the size, but not twice the price. Plus, once you factor in things like ambiance, people-watching, and upscale bar snacks, there is really no competition.)

This weekend I had the pleasure of one such indulgent meal–this one a ladies lunch. And it was actually at a chain, albeit a very dear one. The Capital Grille in Chevy Chase sports prices that could be tough for a casual, impromptu lunch, but we decided it was time to treat ourselves. Patrons are handled at this restaurant like members of an exclusive club from a forgotten era–one from which, as a woman, I’d probably have been excluded. Addressed by our surnames and presented with absurdly large menus and hot fresh rolls with salted butter, we were swept up in the formal luxury of it all. A stellar steak sandwich with havarti and horseradish, truffled french fries, and a dry martini later–you have to request vermouth here–I was convinced this treat was indeed worth its price(y) tag.

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