- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 22, 2004

2004 is winding down but it’s not too late to make plans for a New Year’s Eve dinner and to welcome 2005 in style. You don’t need diamonds, satin and furs, just a good appetite.

Some of the most exciting menus will be offered at local hotels, and if you’ve had too much bubbly, there are some good deals for spending the night. Here’s part of what’s cooking on the last day of the year.

Melrose Restaurant in the Park Hyatt Hotel (1201 24th St. NW; 202/419-6755) is planning a Winter Wonderland with James Jelasic and his four-piece dance band and guest percussionist. They will fill the floor with swing, waltzes, fox trots and holiday songs from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Chef Brian McBride will offer two seatings: the first, a four-course meal, between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m., is priced at $78 per person; the second, seven courses, from 9 to 11 p.m. is $180 per person. The second seating includes a champagne toast at midnight, party favors and a balloon drop.

Two seatings, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. and from 8 to 11 p.m., are the order of the night at Palette at the Madison Hotel (15th and M streets NW; 202/587-2700). The five-course $75 dinner includes Carolina crab cake, roasted guinea hen, warm apple and pear tart; chef James Clark’s $95 seven-course menu highlights fire roasted quail, toasted sweet potato bisque, seared diver scallops and a selection of artisan cheeses.

In the elegant Willard Room of the Willard InterContinental Hotel (14th Street and Pennsylvania Ave. NW; 202/637-7450), chef de cuisine Denis Soriano will prepare a seven-course dinner beginning at 8 p.m. Dinner ($295 per person including parking, taxes and gratuities) includes a champagne toast, party favors and live music with Gene Donati Presentations.

Georgetown’s Four Seasons Hotel will celebrate New Year’s Eve in its restaurant Seasons (2800 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 202/944-2055) from 6 to 11 p.m. The five-course dinner, priced at $135 — or $165 with wine pairings — includes foie gras and potato terrine, baked oyster with spinach, teriyaki-glazed sea bas, roast duck breast and cranberry cheesecake. Dinner begins with a glass of champagne and is accompanied by piano music until 10 p.m. A four-course meal will be available from 6 to 7:30 p.m. for $90.

After dinner, the new year will be welcomed with dancing in the Garden Terrace Lounge from 10 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. There’s a $25 minimum charge per person and reservations will not be accepted.

Circle Bistro (1 Washington Circle; 202/293-5390) in One Washington Circle Hotel) has a special dinner — including veal tenderloin, oysters and roasted sea bass — and dancing with a first seating between 5 and 8 p.m. for five courses with wine pairings for $95, and a second seating after 8 p.m. for five courses with wine pairing, open bar, live jazz and party favors for $150.

Local restaurants also are planning some wonderful meals. At Dish (924 25th St. NW; 202/338-8707), chef Richard Sullivan is offering four-course meals which include foie gras, lobster and veal cheeks at two seatings (5 and 8 p.m.) for $80.

At Firefly (1310 New Hampshire Ave. NW; 202/861-1310), chef John Wabeck is offering three courses for $60, or $90 with paired wines, beginning with a mussel bisque, followed by such delicacies as salmon three ways, roast filet mignon, wild mushroom risotto, espresso poundcake and champagne sorbet.

A Taste of Napa is the theme at Charlie Palmer Steak (101 Constitution Ave. NW; 202/547-8100) where six delectable courses (oysters, Maine lobster, lamb, hazelnut mousse, among others) are paired with California wines for $135 per person.

At Washington’s newest restaurant, Indebleu (707 G St. NW; 202/333-bleu), chef Vikram Garg is offering a Lilliputian tower (there’s an oxymoronic quality to that description) of lobster, crab and mango; lobster bisque; sea bass on leek pilaf with coconut turmeric mussels; seven-spice dusted beef tenderloin, and petits fours at two seatings: 6:30 to 9 p.m. for $75 and 9:30 to past midnight for $125. The second seating includes music by the Fort Knox Five.

At Poste Moderne Brasserie (555 Eighth St. NW; 202/783-6060), live jazz will accompany chef Robert Weland’s elegant cooking featuring roast venison, crispy-skin striped bass, fresh ricotta ravioli and smoked quail on the three-course menu offered from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. ($50 per person) and the second seating beginning at 7:30 for $80 per person.

Chef Alison Swope of Andale (401 Seventh St. NW; 202/783-3133) will offer her regular Mexican menu on New Year’s Eve plus some special dishes for the occasion, such as a sampling of three tamales, roasted duck meat served in a masa-potato cake, seared sea scallops, grilled beef filet and Mexican-style fresh cheese.

Mourayo (1732 Connecticut Ave. NW; 202/667-2100) will offer its regular Greek menu specializing in grilled fresh fish, as well as a special set menu for $75. The restaurant will be open until 11 p.m.

Ring in the new year with a seven-course Spanish feast at Taberna del Alabardero (1776 I St. NW; 202/429-2200), followed by a Spanish new year tradition with a special ceremony conducted at midnight, designed to bring participants luck in 2005. About 12 seconds before midnight (or when the clock begins to strike the midnight hour), patrons will receive a basket of 12 grapes. As a ceremonial bell sounds counting down the final seconds of the year, guests eat one grape per second to usher in the new year. Spaniards believe this little ceremony ensures a joyful and prosperous year to come. The New Year’s Eve menu will be available for one seating at 9 p.m., $125 per person. (A vegetarian version is available for $80.) The restaurant’s regular menu will be available from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

A Southern tradition is on chef Andreas Georgakopoulos’ menu at Finn & Porter (5000 Seminary Road, Alexandria; 703/379-2346), served from 5 p.m. on for $45 per person with a glass of champagne. Black-eyed peas, a Southern must on New Year’s Day will be served.

Straightforward American fare is the order of the day at Zola (800 F St. NW; 202/654-0999). Four courses for $70, five courses for $85 or six courses for $95 are the choices at the first seating at 6, 6:15 or 6:30 p.m. or the second at 9, 9:15 or 9:30 p.m. The Americana on the menu are such items as baked jumbo crabs in shells, wine-braised oxtail, tuna with Granny Smith butter, ricotta terrine with country ham, braised pork and prawns and a choice of American cheeses.

Restaurant Eve (110 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, 703/706-0450) will offer its regular three-course menu for $65 in its Bistro with the addition of some special dishes, such as venison and rockfish. The $90 seven-course menu in the chef’s tasting room will feature several specials, including roast goose with truffles. There will be an early and later seating.

At Marcel’s (2401 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; 202/296-1166), French-born pastry chef Didier Derouet will crown the $85 three-course menu offered from 5 to 7 p.m. with a chocolate creme brulee layered with almond brittle and orange segments with a passion fruit coulis. The six-course meal served from 8:30 on for $175 will conclude with Mr. Derouet’s warm brioche and mango pudding with pecan ice cream and a pear coulis.

Happy New Year to all.

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