Which are you more likely to spot in the swampy sky of the D.C. area: the crane or the crane?
Where we met: Fiola in Washington, D.C.’s Penn Quarter
What we ordered: A Prosecco in every color while we waited for everyone to arrive. Once seated, we ordered an appetizer of salty, paper-thin prosciutto set off with creamy stracchino cheese, tart Champagne grapes, and sweet red wine gelées. We forewent pasta and instead shared two platters of mixed grilled meats and seafood, including quail, sausage, langoustines, and scallops, served with salsa verde and half a lemon in a hairnet (I’m told the hairnet serves to keep lemon seeds out of a dish, but I wouldn’t blame the lemon for wanting the extra assurance that its curls set in D.C.’s humidity). For dessert we indulged in ricotta donuts, pink macarons, and a deconstructed chocolate cake whose parts were greater than most whole cakes I’ve eaten. And I’ve eaten a lot of whole cakes.
The conversation: True to the local bird call—“What do you do?”—we got to know each other as professionals before things got personal. One of us, a construction project estimator, accessorized with a hard hat and a calculator, but most of us donned conservative, pinstriped plumage by day and…conservative, pinstriped plumage by night. Blame the long work hours and/or the District’s conservative sense of style, clocked and reflected, respectively, by the matching Bulova watches worn by two men at the table. But despite the fact that one of us claimed cucumber as his favorite food, this was not a dull table: we joked about our favorite cheap dates (winner: taking a moonlit stroll among the monuments) and nobody talked about the weather. Except we all talked about how we wouldn’t talk about the weather.