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One Upscale Meal for a Starving Student


blakegwinn
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I am a poor student again and I only have the budget for one upscale meal over the next month or so. I am going to be in NY and DC and I was thinking of either doing Mendocino while I was in DC or Blue Hill when I was in NY. Any thoughts or comments from people who have been to one or both recently or even have other suggestions? (BTW I have been to Mendocino but it was probably 3 years ago so probably irrelevant)

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I am a poor student again and I only have the budget for one upscale meal over the next month or so. I am going to be in NY and DC and I was thinking of either doing Mendocino while I was in DC or Blue Hill when I was in NY. Any thoughts or comments from people who have been to one or both recently or even have other suggestions? (BTW I have been to Mendocino but it was probably 3 years ago so probably irrelevant)
I was at Blue Hill in February and had a great meal. The quality of the ingredients really made this meal special.
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I'm also going to chime in for Blue Hill. They use some of the best produce you can get anywhere in a really sophisticated way that is rooted in modern French & Spanish cuisine to a greater extent than most of the professional reviews let on. I had my wedding reception there and the food was killer, they pulled off a really amazing meal despite the size of the party & some dietary restrictions. They raise their own chickens & pigs, most of the pork dishes I've had are crazy good as is the "this morning's farm egg" dish. I would definitely get the egg if its on the menu, especially if its served with seafood. I've also had some great vegetarian dishes like a roasted fennel bulb w/hazelnuts & creme fraiche & an amazing tomato salad w/cucumber sorbet. They often start your meal with a little shooter of chilled vegetable/fruit soup that I also really like.

The wine list is good & reasonably priced. I don't know about their corkage.

BTW they & their sister restaurant outside the city are one of the first restaurants in the US to vertically integrate.

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There's no comparison. Mendocino is a very good meal. Blue Hill is several levels beyond that (and more expensive). If you're in DC, I'd say Komi or Palena (or CityZen, presumably, but I haven't been there).

I Agree on all parts but CityZen. I had a few great course at CityZen with some decent ones and a dud (no slam on the joint, just my own single experience). Palena and Komi are favorites of mine so I'm biased.

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I Agree on all parts but CityZen. I had a few great course at CityZen with some decent ones and a dud (no slam on the joint, just my own single experience). Palena and Komi are favorites of mine so I'm biased.

I do love Palena and Komi but I was hoping to cross something new off of my "To eat" list.

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Two very different experiences. Mendocino is a very nice California restaurant experience with fairly priced wines and good execution for the most part. Blue Hill is a true upscale dining experience that will absolutely knock your socks off (and empty your wallet, depending on how far you want to go).

If you're looking for something affordable and more casual, do Mendocino. If you want to eat at one of the best restaurants on the east coast (and spend the requisite amount of money to do so), go to Blue Hill.

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Two very different experiences. Mendocino is a very nice California restaurant experience with fairly priced wines and good execution for the most part. Blue Hill is a true upscale dining experience that will absolutely knock your socks off (and empty your wallet, depending on how far you want to go).

If you're looking for something affordable and more casual, do Mendocino. If you want to eat at one of the best restaurants on the east coast (and spend the requisite amount of money to do so), go to Blue Hill.

Everyone is saying Blue Hill is much more expensive but judging by the menus online they look comparable. Blue hill does a tasting for 68. That isn't bad at all.
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If you're looking for something affordable and more casual, do Mendocino. If you want to eat at one of the best restaurants on the east coast (and spend the requisite amount of money to do so), go to Blue Hill.

I must have completely missed the boat, but is Blue Hill really THAT good? Everyone here seems to think that it is. Granted, it's been three years, but my one dinner there was in the good-but-not-great category. Well-executed dishes with high-quality ingredients, nothing particularly creative or mind-blowing though.

I've had much better experiences at Cafe Boulud, Babbo, wd-50, and Blue Ribbon (some of which, in fairness, are more expensive but worth the extra cost IMO). To me, Blue Hill isn't even better than comparable restaurants here (e.g., Palena). I'm willing to be convinced otherwise.

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Now that's a difficult question. I love both restaurants! I will say that I have had consistently great meals at Mendocino Grille, but that the one meal I had at Blue Hill was possibly the best meal I've ever had. My guess would be, though, that because (I think) you live down here in DC, eating at Blue Hill would be part of a larger experience and simply because of that fact would be more exciting than even a fabulous dinner in your home town. Plus, if you'll be down here after your "month or so" -- that is, when your finances have recouped to the point that another good meal is possible -- then start with Blue Hill, but do them both! ;)

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Everyone is saying Blue Hill is much more expensive but judging by the menus online they look comparable. Blue hill does a tasting for 68. That isn't bad at all.

I guess it's all relative. I thought that the tasting was a good deal at $70/person, but throw in a $80 bottle of wine along with a couple of cocktails to start and all of a sudden it's a $300+ dinner after tax and gratuity. I think you would be fine on the a la carte here as well if you want to save money, but I thought that the tasting was well worth it for the added variety we got over ordering three courses off the menu.

Only once have I spent more than $200 for two at Mendocino, and we really went all out that night.

ETA Yes, silentbob, I thought BH was that good. The veal I had when I went was incredible and the service was outstanding. I also liked it more than Cafe Boulud and Blue Ribbon, but that's just my opinion.

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