The Perfect Date Night in Cleveland Park

24 Feb
February 24, 2012

The idea of dinner and a movie as a date is almost obsolete. With everyone in a rush, few have time to sit down for four hours of wining, dining and film watching. The notion of it is of a more quaint time, like a scene from a 1950s movie.

But that trend doesn’t need to go the way of poodle skirts and sock hops, because one neighborhood in Washington, D.C. has the perfect places, atmosphere and vibe to revive “date night.”

Cleveland Park, in Northwest Washington, D.C., is a thriving area, with restaurants, bars and retail that keep the place buzzing at all hours. And it’s just the spot to head to if you want a classic evening of dinner and a movie.

While there are many places to eat in Cleveland Park, if you’re looking for the traditional restaurant that would be perfect for a date, look no further than Medium Rare. One of the newest restaurants to hit the area, Medium Rare is a unique take on the classic French bistro.

The restaurant sits on the corner of Connecticut Avenue and Ordway Street, right in the heart of Cleveland Park. Though there’s a large sign affixed to the building announcing its presence, the atmosphere inside is subdued. In fact, stepping inside takes you away from the hustle and bustle of Washington, D.C., instead giving the calming sense of a bistro tucked away in a little neighborhood in Paris. Blonde wood floors pair nicely with exposed brick, while the low-slung ceiling, with exposed beams, creates an intimate atmosphere.

Once seated, even the stress of ordering is removed. Medium Rare has just one entrée on its menu, the classic French dish: steak frites. A waiter will come by and take your drink orders—and there’s an excellently priced wine list—and ask you how you’d like your steak done.

Then comes baskets of perfect rustic French bread, with a crackling exterior and chewy, doughy inside. The bread course is followed by a salad with a house vinaigrette. After that, it’s the restaurant’s namesake: steak. Each plate comes with five ounces of sirloin, crisp French fries and the restaurant’s signature steak sauce, a mushroom cream blend.

After you finish comes the best part. Another whole serving of steak and fries. Yes, the restaurant always gives seconds. It’s technically just part of the entrée that they cook later, to serve the steak hot and fries fresh again, but it’s fun to look at as an additional serving.

While that may be the best part of the evening, you’ll also enjoy getting the bill, as the entire fixed price menu comes in at just $19.50 a person.

After dinner, it’s just a half block walk down the street to a movie theater that will draw you even further into 1950s nostalgia.

If the Uptown Theater, on Connecticut Avenue, seems like a relic from the past, that’s because it is. The theater is one of the oldest in the city, having shown its first movie in October of 1936. It’s got the large marquee of theaters past, with movie times still displayed on a large white board in black letters. And in the age of multiplexes, this theater is certainly a throwback, with just one screen.

But even in this modern era of iMAX, Uptown Theatre still boasts one of the largest screens in the area, at over 70 feet long and 40 feet high. That makes it a great place to take in big-budget blockbusters, with their curved screen enveloping the viewer and enhancing the experience.

The theater is currently showing the new 3D version of Star Wars: Episode I and tickets are $12.

So there’s no reason dinner and a movie have to be a thing of the past. In fact, it’s time for a dating revival. And start it in Cleveland Park.

- David

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