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August 25, 2011

1:09
P.M.

Got Plans? Discuss great ideas for local entertainment, dates and family fun.

Total Responses: 68

About the hosts

About the host

Host: The Going Out Gurus

The Going Out Gurus

The Going Out Gurus are the experts behind The Washington Post's Going Out Guide. They 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. Join the thousands of readers who have followed us on Twitter and Facebook. And for nightlife news delivered twice-weekly to your inbox, make sure to sign up for the Going Out Guide newsletter.

About the topic

Join the Going Out Guide staff to discuss great ideas for local
Q.

Stephanie Merry :

Hiya and welcome to another week of Got Plans? Has everyone recovered from the earthquake (just in time for the hurricane)? Before we get started a couple of PSAs. First, we're taking nominations for what to add to our 14th Street neighborhood guide, so head over to the blog to cast your vote.

Second, we're giving away VIP passes to Riot Act Comedy Club. Just tell us about your favorite place to take shelter during a hurricane, and we'll announce the winner at the end of the chat.

Q.

Camping venues with fun water activities nearby

Hi there, Some friends and I are trying to plan a camping weekend in the next month, and we trying to decide where to go. We'd like to find a place that has fun water activities nearby (fishing, tubing, waterfalls to wade in perhaps?, etc). We don't own any of the equipment for said actiivties, so bonus points for places that have rental outfitters in hiking distance from the campsites. My first thought was Harper's Ferry but I'm not actually sure there are legit campsites there. Any suggestions?
A.
Amy Orndorff :

Good timing. Tomorrow's cover story is about outdoor alternatives and features something you might like: Pocomoke River State Park. You can rent kayaks, boats, canoes and there is plenty of good fishing. You can also use it as a launch pad for other water activities like stand up paddle boarding near Assateague. I used DelMarVa Board Sport Adventures and had a great time.

 

Oh and I am also going to be holding a contest on our blog tomorrow for the best outdoor spots. I'd love to hear your opinions!

– August 25, 2011 1:07 PM
Q.

Columbia Heights Day on Saturday

Just a FYI, the Columbia Heights Day festival is happening rain or shine on Saturday. Should anything change, we'll let people know via Facebook and Twitter.
A.
Fritz Hahn :

Good to know the D.C. State Fair isn't afraid of a little rain. Last year's pie contest was epic.

– August 25, 2011 1:07 PM
Q.

Cobbler needed

Gurus, my trusty Italian lace ups are showing signs of wear and tear from days spent trudging the halls of government. Where can I take them to get a tip-top re-soling job done? yours, a government peon
A.
Holly Thomas :

I got a recommendation recently for Master Shoe Repair (specifically Raul) in Rockville ... you might want to start there. If you're open to the idea of sending shoes away for repair, you might want to check out Resole America, which is based in Warrenton, Va. The Deal Hunter column explains what to expect from a cobbler here.

– August 25, 2011 1:10 PM
Q.

H st dining recommendations

Hi, we are coming in from Ashburn for Ari Shaffir's homecoming shows at the Atlas friday night. We have never been to H st, what do you recommend food wise? We like Italian and Asian a lot since most of the time its cheaper, Thanks
A.
Jess Righthand :

In the Italian vein, I would definitely try Liberty Tree, which serves nice salads, pastas and pizzas at reasonable prices. On the Asian side of things I would try two newish establishments, Khan's and Toki Underground, or mainstay Sticky Rice.

– August 25, 2011 1:11 PM
Q.

Hurricane Shelter

A tiki bar, of course. Or perhaps an old motel in the keys.
A.
Amy Orndorff :

And we are off...

– August 25, 2011 1:11 PM
Q.

silopannafest

Hi! Do you have any more details about the timing of silopannafest this weekend? When do the headliners start? When is it supposed to end? Thank you.
A.
Fritz Hahn :

Bad news -- as David reported on the blog earlier this morning, the Silopanna Festival w/Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Trombone Shorty and Matt & Kim has been cancelled due to the weather forecast. There won't be a makeup date.

– August 25, 2011 1:12 PM
Q.

Wolf Trap & Hurricanes

I know Wolf Trap has a policy of the performance will go - no matter what. But even a potential hurricane? Any info/idea on what they will do (and when they will decide) about the MCC concert this Saturday night given the forecast?
A.
Stephanie Merry :

It would be a gametime decision, no doubt. If the weather gets really insane, you should give the box office a ring before heading out there, but -- like you said -- the policy is rain or shine, so I'm sure the show will go on if at all possible.

– August 25, 2011 1:16 PM
Q.

GF

Any suggestions for bakeries that feature gluten free goods in DC?
A.
Justin Rude :

I know Baked & Wired usually offers a selection of gluten-free goodies.

– August 25, 2011 1:19 PM
Q.

Cocktails

Lately I've been reading about barrel-aged cocktails such as Manhattans and Negronis. Where can I take my friends to sample beverages?
A.
Fritz Hahn :

There's a lot of buzz in the spirits world about barrel-aged cocktails -- essentially mixed drinks that are aged in wooden barrels for a few months to allow the flavor to develop and deepen. (Bartending rock star Jeff Morgenthaler had the idea first.)

The only place I know that's doing them in D.C. is the Occidental. The Darkening Storm blends light and dark spiced rums with house allspice and ginger syrups, and is topped up with ginger beer. It's an interesting taste, as if the wood aging actually mellowed the rums while intensifying the spiciness.

There's a Manhattan made with aged Maker's, too, which I'm looking forward to trying next time. Word of warning: Each glass sets you back $15.

– August 25, 2011 1:19 PM
Q.

Birthday Cocktails

Hi, thanks for taking my question. My husband is taking me out for my birthday Monday and I want to go somewhere with great cocktails and appetizers - we're not planning on having a full dinner, just small plates. I would prefer someplace quiet-ish and comfortable. Any suggestions are appreciated!
A.
Fritz Hahn :

Monday is the perfect night to do this sort of thing -- crowds are lighter, staff is more attentive. If I was doing this, I'd want to go to Jackie's Sidebar: Fantastic cocktails, great little snacks, and you can actually hear yourself think.

– August 25, 2011 1:21 PM
Q.

hurricane shelter

My favorite place to take shelter is Chicago. No chance of a hurricane reaching there.
A.
Justin Rude :

I'm escaping to Cleveland this weekend. Admittedly it's no Chicago, but I imagine it will be similarly hurricane-free.

– August 25, 2011 1:21 PM
Q.

Activities with teenagers

Apologies if this has been asked on Got Plans of the past, but can you suggest some interactive artsy activities that would be fun for teenagers? Something along the lines of painting pottery, but....a little cooler than that. Also I don't really need any more pottery, so bonus points if it doesn't result in something clunky you are obliged to take home.
A.
Amy Orndorff :

How about a cooking or candy-making class? I'm not sure where you are writing from, but I was thinking about truffle-making class at Sugar Cube in Alexandria. They offer plenty of classes for children, but it would be worth checking in about setting something up for your teens.

– August 25, 2011 1:24 PM
Q.

Hurricane Irene.

With Hurricane Irene bearing down on DC Saturday night/Sunday, are you aware of any DC bars having "hurricane parties" saturday night, the way they sometime do in New Orleans? Thanks!
A.
Fritz Hahn :

You know, we were talking about this in the office after that huge rush of earthquake specials on Tuesday night. Haven't heard of any yet, but we'll definitely list them on the blog if anyone announces parties. (Hint.)

– August 25, 2011 1:26 PM
Q.

Hurricane Shelter

In the eye. You have to keep paddling, though.
A.
Jess Righthand :

Spoken like a true adventure seeker.

– August 25, 2011 1:26 PM
Q.

Hurricane Shelter = Hurricane Party

My favorite place in college to seek hurricane shelter was the hallways of the dorms. Everyone brought their mattresses and contraband alcohol in to the hall and it was one big party. This weekend a recreation of this is in order complete with friends, pajamas, booze, and movies.
A.
Fritz Hahn :

We did this in college during snowstorms when no one could go outside. Always a good time.

– August 25, 2011 1:26 PM
Q.

What to do?

Gurus, what can a 30 something person do Saturay night that's solo? Silopanna, my original plan, was cancelled. I've already seen Oklahoma and Uncle Vanya. Is my only option to treat myself to dinner and go to a movie?
A.
Stephanie Merry :

My weekend plans were also thwarted (not the best time to go to the beach), but there's a silver lining: I can see the final Cherry Red show, the Artistocrats, which is something you should consider (if you appreciate the lowest of lowbrow humor). Other options: A block party hosted by Irvine Contemporary, Fete du Soul at Yards Park or -- since you seem to be into theater --  you could try for tickets to the Shakespeare Free for All.

– August 25, 2011 1:27 PM
Q.

For the Camper...

Lake Anna is also a great spot for camping. You've got access to the whole lake, lots of outfitters around for canoes, kayaks etc. I rented a cabin there with a huge porch that backs right up on the lake. Pretty awesome for only being about an hour away.
A.
Amy Orndorff :

I like this suggestion. It would have helped to know where the chatter was writing from. Lake Anna might be an hour away from you, but from downtown DC it is closer to two hours.

– August 25, 2011 1:28 PM
Q.

GF Bakeries

To the chatter asking about GF bakeries: I know Buzz bakeries (next to Rustico in Ballston and Alexandria) have GF items. Georgetown Cupcake and Red Velvet also have GF cupcakes. Finally, Sticky Fingers bakery in Columbia Heights has GF, egg and dairy-free treats. Enjoy! :)
A.
Jess Righthand :

Thanks!

– August 25, 2011 1:28 PM
Q.

Hurricane shelter

For any serious storm, I usually end up in my basement consoling my freaked-out dog. However, he did sleep through the earthquake!
A.
Amy Orndorff :

Poor puppy!

– August 25, 2011 1:30 PM
Q.

Activities with teenagers

Thanks Amy, great suggestion! I am in DC but will check out the Sugar Cube. If anyone knows of any cool cooking or candy making classes that won't break the bank (around $40 per person would be the limit) please share.
A.
Amy Orndorff :

Happy to help. I am going to put this up to the chatters...

– August 25, 2011 1:31 PM
Q.

From the camper

We're in Alexandria and Arlington, but are willing to travel at least 2 hours. We'll definitely look into both Lake Anna and Pocomoke River, thanks for the suggestions!
A.
Amy Orndorff :

Happy to help. Lake Anna would be closer for you, but I am a fan of Pocomoke because it is so close to the beach!

– August 25, 2011 1:32 PM
Q.

Wings

My roommate and I are on a wings quick. What places would you recommend if you were on a hunt for the best wings in DC/Arlington? (Buffalo wings are best washed down with pints or pitchers of beers so places where we can do that are preferred to carry-out joints.) Also, I nominate this as a category for GoG's Best Of lists.
A.
Fritz Hahn :

My top destinations in your geographically designated areas: Duffy's for D.C., First Down (especially garlic butter and Jamaican) for Arlington. The former has pitcher specials on the regular, the latter offers 122-ounce beer towers.

If you're not looking for the usual Buffalo wings, the spicy wings at Mandu are outstanding.

– August 25, 2011 1:33 PM
Q.

Re: Italian shoe re-sole

I recommend Best Foot Forward in Pentagon City. Pretty sure the owner is from Italy.
A.
Holly Thomas :

Thanks for the tip!

– August 25, 2011 1:34 PM
Q.

Hurricane Shelter

Well, from experience I can say that Houston was not my most favorite hurricane shelter. Five students evacuating NOLA on the road for twelve hours only to crash for four days in a highway motel for some absurd price was not awesome. We made it though, so I guess that is something. The best shelter is probably meeting friends at a local bar with electricity, music, and a television. Bonus if they actually serve Hurricanes.
A.
Amy Orndorff :

Been there, and I feel your pain.

– August 25, 2011 1:34 PM
Q.

Hurricane Shelter

Anywhere that serves a Hurricane, duh. (har har)
A.
Fritz Hahn :

Seriously, though -- I'd be happy to hunker down with the versions from Bayou or Tru Orleans.

– August 25, 2011 1:34 PM
Q.

Shoes

Philip's Shoe Repair on Upshur between 8th and 9th is great.
A.
Holly Thomas :

More shoe recommendations ...

– August 25, 2011 1:35 PM
Q.

Flashback to 2003

When Isabel "hit" (and by that I mean almost entirely skipped over NW DC) in Sept 2003 I was in my 2nd week of freshman year at Georgetown. We had an impromptu 4 day weekend when they cancelled classes on Thursday and Friday, local liquor stores sold out of hurricaine 40s, and I saw several friends off to the hospital after games of mud ball and mud sledding (including one incident with a grocery cart) went horribly awry. May not be taking shelter, but I'd give almost anything to be able to recreate that this weekend....
A.
Fritz Hahn :

Good times, good times.

– August 25, 2011 1:35 PM
Q.

Venue for Husband's 40th Birthday Dance Party?

For his 40th birthday bash, my husband would like a dance party. Can you recommend a club/bar that we could rent for the early evening house (maybe 8-11pm) before it opens to the general public? Somewhere we could either hire the in-house DJ or bring in our own DJ? Thanks.
A.
Fritz Hahn :

How many people are we talking about? That's going to have a big impact on the answer.

– August 25, 2011 1:36 PM
Q.

Cosmos Club

Walked by here the other day. Do they ever allow non-members in? Is it nice inside? What sort of people are members?
A.
Stephanie Merry :

Some of the rooms inside are really lovely, especially the library and ballroom upstairs. Non-member guests can go in accompanied by members, but be warned that there's a dress code (jackets and ties for men), although I think it's more lax in the summer months.

– August 25, 2011 1:36 PM
Q.

water-friendly camping

What about Cunningham Falls State Park in Maryland?
A.
Amy Orndorff :

Another great suggestion. Plenty of lovely water falls. The only negative is that you aren't supposed to swim after Labor Day.

– August 25, 2011 1:36 PM
Q.

birthday

Hi! My 21st birthday is September 9th and I'm looking for a fun place for my friends and I to go in either Georgetown or Adams Morgan. Any ideas?? We're all in college so nothing too expensive please!
A.
Fritz Hahn :

Are you all 21 or will there be some under-21s with you?

– August 25, 2011 1:36 PM
Q.

DC Bar/Restaraunt Owner

Something I'd like to bring up with the Readers of this chat. When and why did people stop talking to your Bartender, Server, Manager or Owner of an establishment before going straight to Yelp or a Blog? Several times over the last month we were written about negatively when the problem could have been resolved on the spot by talking to us. One customer complained his steak came out Medium instead of Medium Rare. He gave us a bad review. Another customer said the bathroom was out of toilet paper. Let us know. That happens sometimes. they gave us a 1 Star Review. The third was they were told they would have to wait twenty minutes for their reservation as we were short one server. All of these are things that got written up about when we could have re-done the steak and not charged them, replenished the bathroom, and offered the customer a free drink or desert for their patience. Instead no one said anything and went straight to the internet. Will we ever go back to a time when people ask for assistance instead of bashing business's for minor mistakes?
A.
Justin Rude :

A reminder that the best way to ensure a positive dining experience is to communicate your needs and disappointments to restaurants at the earliest possible time.

– August 25, 2011 1:37 PM
Q.

Kennedy Center

A friend gave me a very generous gift certificate to the Kennedy Center. I've kind of been out of the loop on what is going on there. Anything the Gurus can recommend, now or later in the year, that is worth splurging on? Thanks!
A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

Lucky you! Off the top of my head, I'd say La Cage Aux Folles (on sale Oct. 5) or  Billy Elliot ( on sale Sept. 11.) if you like musicals.  Musicals are always splurges, and these should be over-the-top fun.  And while we're on the subject of the Kennedy Center,  Labor Day weekend will the weekend to check out the annual Page to Stage festival, which is kind of a preview of a lot of shows that will come to the region (not just the KenCen) in the coming years. It's always fun.

– August 25, 2011 1:38 PM
Q.

Cooking classes

Hill's Kitchen does classes, and they are generally $35-$50/per person.
A.
Amy Orndorff :

A suggestion for our artsy teens. Thank you!

– August 25, 2011 1:40 PM
Q.

Hurricane

My awesome neighborhood in Bloomingdale usually takes advantage of storms to gather at one person's house and make a day of it.
A.
Stephanie Merry :

Sounds like fun; what do you guys do? Games? Movies?

– August 25, 2011 1:41 PM
Q.

Wings

The jerk wings at the Reef are pretty great. I like the Buffalo wings at Meridian Pint, although I wish they were fried a but crisper.
A.
Fritz Hahn :

I just had the jerk wings at the Reef the other week -- pretty good. I'm a fan of the non-fried wings at the Pint, especially when paired with an order of deviled eggs.

– August 25, 2011 1:45 PM
Q.

Restaurant suggestion

I'm seeking a restaurant suggestion for a date Saturday night. Something lively but not overly pricey is preferred. It needs to be near a metro and in DC. Any ideas?
A.
Justin Rude :

Not overly pricey is tough to gauge. Do you have a range? Potenza comes to mind as a possibility. At a higher price range, and with a bit more ambiance, you could look to Bibiana or Proof.

– August 25, 2011 1:46 PM
Q.

Post-Going Out

Re: My question last week. What I meant to ask was are there any taxi companies that provide free rides if one is being responsible? Or is that only for holidays?
A.
Fritz Hahn :

Only on holiday weekends, I'm afraid.

– August 25, 2011 1:46 PM
Q.

Places to catch up?

Hi Gurus, I've got a friend coming in from out of town. We haven't seen each other in a while and have lots to catch up on. Where can we go within an easy metro of Metro Center to have a great dinner and chat? I expect we'll be at the table for a while, or maybe eating dinner somewhere then going somewhere else for desserts. Any suggestions? We're not big drinkers and I don't want to feel pressured to move on/out of table. Thanks!
A.
Jess Righthand :

I'm not sure what night you're looking to go, but I just had a very long, very leisurely dinner at Palena (the cafe, not the dining room), and it was one of the best meals I've had in a long time. It's accessible via the red line from Metro Center, but crowds tend to be a bit more manageable and servers have a great level of attentiveness. Also, if you sit towards the back, you get to see the inner workings of the kitchen, which is pretty cool in my book. And no need to go anywhere else for dessert -- we had several the other day and they were all delicious. (No espresso, though, which was a slight disappointment.) In conclusion, it's not exactly right next to Metro Center, which was admittedly your only requirement, but you should go there anyway. Anyone else care to chime in?

– August 25, 2011 1:47 PM
Q.

Rain parks

I figure Sunday is a good day for a rain park. Got any suggestions?
A.
Jess Righthand :

You've piqued my curiosity. What exactly is a rain park? Am I all alone on this?

– August 25, 2011 1:48 PM
Q.

Bridesmaid Dress Alteration

I'm in a wedding in October, and the dress I have to wear is strapless and needs to have the top taken in at least an inch on each side. Since I already paid a lot for a dress I'll never wear again, I would like to find somewhere that does alterations and that does a good job) that isn't going to cost me an arm and a leg. Any suggestions of places that do a good job at alterations? I live in friendship heights, but I'm willing to drive anywhere within half an hour to get a good deal.
A.
Holly Thomas :

Finding a tailor that does great work for cheap is a bit of a wild goose chase, but you might want to start with Kenwood Custom Tailors in Bethesda. And keep in mind that you can always sell the dress online when you're done -- ask the other bridesmaids if they'd want to sell their dresses, offer as many as you can in one posting, and split the profits.

– August 25, 2011 1:48 PM
Q.

Hurricane plan

I'll be on the floor of my living room with my back against the couch. A thick book in one hand, and the last of my Summer Shandy in the other.
A.
Amy Orndorff :

That sounds perfect.

– August 25, 2011 1:50 PM
Q.

Activities tonight!

Hey Gog, My ladyfriend wants to do something new tonight that doesn't involve music, movies, or food! With rain on the forecast, I find myself lacking good, indoor ideas to suggest to her. Heard of anything good?
A.
Stephanie Merry :

A couple of us are headed to Handi-Hour, the Renwick's newish museum party, which sounds like a lot of fun. $15 admission gets you two DC Brau beers and crafting supplies. Plus there will be live music. Other options that might work: There's an art talk at the Hirshhorn and Reggie Watts brings his wacky brand of comedy to Woolly Mammoth.

– August 25, 2011 1:51 PM
Q.

Re Birthday

All 21... i'm the last one haha
A.
Fritz Hahn :

Cool. Congrats. You can't go wrong with the $1 jello shots at the divey Millie and Al's; Town Tavern has that $10 all-you-can-drink special on Fridays at 10 p.m., to go along with its usual bevy of specials and DJ spinning on the second floor; Grand Central has cheap drinks early in the night but they're not quite as cheap later.

Oh, and if you're going out with a good-sized birthday group, you really should consider Muzette for a private karaoke room before hitting the clubs. Perfect way to get you in the mood.

– August 25, 2011 1:53 PM
Q.

Help! National Harbor Seems So Far Away!

I've been tasked with planning a friend's low-key bachelorette/girls-night-out activities for a Friday evening in September. Originally, I had an awesome scavenger hunt planned - but there's no way folks will be able to manage that on a Friday evening, but a dueling piano bar would be perfect! I know there's one at National Harbor, but I can't quite figure out how to get everyone there and back. The bride's main consideration was that she didn't want it to be an extravagant evening because we're all already flying across the country for her wedding, so I sort of wrote off limos or buses. There are 10-15 girls, who will be coming from downtown, Capitol Hill, or Columbia Heights. We will all need to eat at some point. Open to corralling everyone somewhere first and then traveling over or just meeting there. Doesn't look like there's public transport options. Some of us have cars - but we're big drinkers. Suggestions?

A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

Bobby McKey's at National Harbor is a good option for a bachelorette party; on any given Friday, there are about 10 "Bridal Support Teams" getting loose there. It is pretty close to downtown, so taxis are totally an option (particularly if you've got 4 girls in one taxi splitting the fare). A good place to catch the cab is near the Archives Metro stop (Green line, so everyone can come, and it's a skip away from  9th Street, which you'll take to get to National Harbor.) For dinner, consider meeting up early and doing Hill Country - it's near the Metro stop, and everyone can pay your own way, and it's decidedly not extravagant. Back to Bobby McKey's: You should reserve a table with them to make it easier, and get there by 9 p.m. (oddly, that's when they're really partying). And skip the beer towers once you're there. They're flashy, but I'm not convinced they're a great value at all.

– August 25, 2011 1:54 PM
Q.

Labor Day

Hi all! Our Labor day plans fell through last minute. Can you fill us in on any cool stuff happening locally, or any places we can go for the weekend? Within driving distance of course!
A.
Jess Righthand :

Here's a list of our picks for what's on this weekend.

– August 25, 2011 1:54 PM
Q.

Re: Sidebar

Not open on Mondays. But yeah, otherwise perfect.
A.
Fritz Hahn :

Arrrgh, you're right. My bad. Jackie's is closed on Sundays and Mondays.

So I'll amend my answer to the fantastic cocktail/small plate pairings at Proof (more fun than the entrees), Bourbon Steak or the Majestic in Old Town.

– August 25, 2011 1:56 PM
Q.

Cherry Red ending

Stephanie, nice round-up of the best (worst?) or Cherry Red. If history is any indication, we'll get just as wet in the theater as we will outside. Can't wait to see it!
A.
Stephanie Merry :

Hey thanks! And yes, I should have mentioned that. People heading to the Aristocrats should know they might get splashed with who-knows-what. That's what the plastic bags are for...

– August 25, 2011 1:56 PM
Q.

Hurricane Shelter

Planning on gumbo, hurricanes, and Settlers of Catan at a friend's who has a nice view of the city...but if there's a stretch with no lightning or danger of trees falling, maybe a little puddle jumping and slip and slide on a muddy hill?
A.
Stephanie Merry :

This sounds great. Can I come?

– August 25, 2011 1:57 PM
Q.

Re: Bridesmaid Dress Alteration

Judith of Judith's Botique in Vienna did the same alteration for me (taking in a strapless dress) for a really good price, better than even a dry cleaner. I've recommended her to friends and no one has ever reported a problem. Plus she'll flatter you by telling you that you should have ordered a smaller size while she's pinning it at your first fitting.
A.
Holly Thomas :

Thanks for the suggestion!

– August 25, 2011 1:59 PM
Q.

To DC bar/restaurant owner

Re: Yelp, etc. - Don't freak out by the naysayers. While I have empathy for such a situation/predicament, I think we need to adjust and accept that role that the internet has on a business these days. The examples cited in the post are trivial, generally, and are things that could be addressed at the time so the establishment has a chance to correct them. Bar/restaurant owners - some of the readers of the internet know how to gauge people's reviews. You can tell which ones are the complainers and the braggadocios. Look at the complaint or how the review is written. If a lot of people are writing about a place and there are a few complainers, it's possible the establishment is having an off-day or the posters just like to complain. If there are a lot of reviewers who are saying bad things and the bar/restaurant doesn't like it, it might be time for the place to look at how things are running (and from a customer perspective) to see if they can operate a little more smoothly.
A.
Justin Rude :

I'm right there with you. I think you can also look for patterns with online reviews. If everyone complains about the same thing, it's probably a real problem. If everyone praises the service except for one vocal and aggressive naysayer, it's safe to bet there was either an off-day or someone has a grudge. Of course this doesn't even touch my favorite variety of horrible Yelp review, which is: "I think X cuisine i gross. This restaurant serves X cuisine. Therefore, 1 star."

– August 25, 2011 1:59 PM
Q.

Re: restaurant feedback

I would argue that the restaurant should have been more pro-active about the third situation (where the diners had to wait 20 minutes for a reservation) and offered a drink or dessert without having to be asked. The other two cases I definitely see the LW's point. But to answer his/her question in general, I am often reluctant to bring up an issue because, in my experience, customer service is deteriorating all around and I never know how a request is going to be received. I don't write online reviews at all, but I can understand why someone would think it's easier to just write up a review than to have a potentially unpleasant or unsatisfactory conversation. Bashing minor mistakes online might go down if businesses were more customer service-oriented.
A.
Fritz Hahn :

I agree with you on most points -- if there's an extended wait, it's up to the restaurant to fix that on the spot without being asked. I've also been on the end of eye-rolling from staff when I've complained about things like that. You really have to play it by ear.

On your last point, shouldn't restaurants be customer service-oriented by default? It's a shame not all are.

– August 25, 2011 1:59 PM
A.
Justin Rude :

Agreed, but I still think that whether you are worried about having an unpleasant conversation or not, before you go online and go after a restaurant, you have to give it a chance to make things right.

– August 25, 2011 2:01 PM
Q.

Hurricane shelter

I'd assume the best place to batten down your hatches during crisis would be the metro. Nothing coming in or going out when the weather is (or isn't) out of control! Sounds safe to me. Break a rule and make it BYOB!
A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

It sounds like a plan. Also, BYO air conditioning, since you know it's not going to be working in your car, right?

– August 25, 2011 1:59 PM
Q.

Hurricane Shelter - Coffee and a good book!

You can't beat Northside Social in Arlington during a storm. Though I haven't tested it in a hurricane yet, it's my number one spot to go to on viciously rainy and windy days. Free refills on drip coffee, a great selection of wine, and a cozy atmosphere to re-read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for the 11th time.
A.
Amy Orndorff :

Harry Potter is what put this suggestion into "winner" catagory for me.

– August 25, 2011 2:01 PM
Q.

Hurricane shelter

My basement! Our plan is to invite friends over, stock the house with plenty of food and adult beverages (uh and juice boxes) and have a big camp out. Kids love it, adults love it, we'll barely even notice the hurricane!
A.
Stephanie Merry :

Fun for the whole family.

– August 25, 2011 2:01 PM
Q.

Irene wrecking plans...

Was hosting a 'Two weeks till I DEW' themed bachelorette party in Dewy this weekend. Irene has wrecked those plans, and suggestion for last minute alternatives here in D.C.? Thanks!!
A.
Fritz Hahn :

In Nightlife Agenda this week, we talked about Town Tavern's Flip Flop Farewell party -- two tons of sand trucked into the bar, open bar specials, $4 shooters... I mean, it's not Dewey, but for a bachelorette party? It'll do.

– August 25, 2011 2:01 PM
Q.

shelter

just stick on a couple of flotation devices and call it a day.
A.
Jess Righthand :

Another vote for getting in on the action.

– August 25, 2011 2:04 PM
Q.

Long-lost Night Out

My wife and I have a one and a half year old at home, which has unsurprisingly curtailed our nightlife activity we'd so enjoyed in DC. We plan to do a rare DC late night adventure so that she can show off a saucy new dress. Problem is, we aren't quite up to date on where to go. We're thinking something in the McPherson Sq area with maybe dinner at Lincoln but then what slightly clubby-type place for drinks? Ideal would be upscale combo bar and dancing. Thanks!
A.
Fritz Hahn :

Lincoln, and then ... I'm looking forward to the opening of the new Opera, which comes from some of the Josephine/Current crew. It's making its debut this week at 14th and I. Should have something about that early next week, but it looks like it should fill the upscale bar/dancing combo you're looking for. The new Moroccan-themed deck at Current is another option.

– August 25, 2011 2:07 PM
Q.

Sports for the non-athletic

Hi, I'm looking to get out and play some rec league sports, but I'm not into running. I tried playing soccer last season and it was too much. Other than softball, what else would be worth trying? Thanks!
A.
Stephanie Merry :

Fritz and I are both bocce fans. You can get more info about signing up on the DC Bocce League web site.

– August 25, 2011 2:07 PM
Q.

Best place for Saturday night

Hey Gurus - my partner and friends and I are planning on spending Sunday in (we're still loaded on batteries from Snowpocalypse, and have stocked up on bottled water, canned food, KY, and candles just in case) - but where would you pick if you wanted to have one huge blowout Saturday night knowing you might be trapped indoors for 48 hours or so?
A.
Fritz Hahn :

I would face the impending doom on Jack Rose's rooftop deck for as long as the weather allowed, then retreat downstairs for whiskey to steel the mind and the nerves for the situation ahead.

– August 25, 2011 2:08 PM
Q.

Hurricane Suggestions

I am heading out of town for the weekend, but all of these awesome suggestions really make we wish I was staying here! A hurricane party sounds perfect!
A.
Stephanie Merry :

Well have fun, wherever you go -- hopefully somewhere west of here.

– August 25, 2011 2:13 PM
Q.

For H St Dining

For the person looking for H Street recommendations, I actually tried Toki Underground last night for the first time and it was SO good... BUT there was a 2 hour wait on a Wednesday. So if you have a show to catch, I wouldn't recommend it.
A.
Jess Righthand :

Yeah, good call. Waits there can be really long. Same with Sticky Rice, though if you get to Sticky Rice reasonably early you should be fine.

– August 25, 2011 2:13 PM
Q.

KY?!?!?!?

OMG That made my day!!! Hilarious!!!
A.
Amy Orndorff :

It made our day, too!

– August 25, 2011 2:14 PM
Q.

Wedding Reception Signature Drink

Hi! I am getting married on Oct.30,2011 and our caterers are allowing us to have a signature drink to be available during our cocktail hour. My fiancee and I are not big drinks so do you have any suggestion for a fun simple drink to be shared with our guests?
A.
Lavanya Ramanathan :

This made the GOG pod chatter with some of the signature drinks we've had over the years: Thinly veiled apple martinis, Firefly vodka-and-lemonade cocktails, champagne ones with St. Germain. But with your wedding in October, we instinctively thought fall. And nothing says "fall" like punch! Jason Wilson writes about the current punch obsession here, and there are a couple of recipes. Also, one of our favorite local bartenders, Dan Searing, has published an already beloved book all about punch, "The Punch Bowl." You can even look through a few of his recipes for free on Amazon (the book is just 10 bucks on Amazon) or get it at Room 11. (Or if you're not seeing anything you like, ping me at goingoutguide@washpost.com with what liquor you like, and I can send you a simple recipe or two?) Good luck!

– August 25, 2011 2:19 PM
Q.

Hurricane Shetler

The budoir! A friend's wife delivered baby #1 exactly 9 months after Hurricane Isabel, though was unable to use a delivery room at the hospital because they were full! Candlelight, . If you really want to set the mood, you could hook your IPod up to some battery-powered speakers with a hurricane playlist: Bob Dylan's "Hurricane" (obviously), "Blame it on the Rain", "Riders on the Storm", "Goodnight Irene", and maybe even toss in "It's Raining Men".
A.
Stephanie Merry :

This is quite....descriptive. Fritz would like to throw out that Bob Dylan's song is about a boxer, though Neil Young's "Like a Hurricane" would be a worthy substitution.

– August 25, 2011 2:20 PM
Q.

Fascinator hats

Hi Holly--I wrote in a few weeks ago about finding some fascinator hats in my basement. I have a formal college reunion dinner coming up--would that be a place to wear one? (Considering I bought them while in college, it seems appropriate.) Of course, this requires rethinking my entire outfit. :)
A.
Holly Thomas :

Ahh, yes, I remember your amazing find! If the dinner is black-tie, then I would say go for it. If it's not formal enough for a cocktail dress, however, you might feel a bit overdressed if you don the elaborate headgear. I think it might come down to the level of flair you're working with -- a fascinator that is small and simple could easily work with a basic cocktail dress, but anything that has plumes or sparkles or just generally screams "royal wedding" should be saved for (obv) weddings and other more formal occasions.

– August 25, 2011 2:21 PM
Q.

Alterations / Total Reconstruction

Hey Holly- Along the lines of bridesmaid dress alterations, do you know of anyone trusted and creative enough to do something fun with an old bridesmaid dress? I wore this one in my brother's wedding last year... but can't ever see wearing it as floor-length again. But if it were cut to a fun cocktail length / style (it's the cornflower blue), I could see it. But I don't have that creative eye to know exactly what I want, and would want to go someone beyond my neighborhood dry cleaner.

A.
Holly Thomas :

You might want to stop by Ginger Root Design on U Street ... a custom job won't be cheap, but they do nice work.

– August 25, 2011 2:23 PM
Q.

Dogfish dinner at the Bullpen

Gurus-- Any idea if the Dogfish/Food Truck dinner at the Bullpen is still happening on Saturday night, or if there are contingency plans? Does the Bullpen have an indoor option?
A.
Fritz Hahn :

Bullpen just has a large tent, so no real indoor option. Just called the owner and haven't heard back, but will post something when I hear.

I expect we're going to be doing a lot of updating on cancelled/rescheduled events on the GOG Blog in the next day or two, so keep checking that and our twitter feed.

– August 25, 2011 2:24 PM
Q.

Stephanie Merry :

Thanks for stopping by. It turns out we actually have TWO pairs of passes to give away, so the lucky winners are: The person that wants to relive his/her freshman year at Georgetown (although hopefully with fewer hospital visits) and the chatter planning a Louisiana themed dinner with a potential for mud-sliding and puddle-jumping. Email us at events at washingtonpost dot com to claim your prize. See you guys next week...

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