Thanks for all the advice...and here's what we did...
After posting here for suggestions by the time we got to Fairfax on Saturday our host had already made dinner plans. Since we had a group of 9 (which ended up at 6 after bail-outs) our host had made reservations at Restaurant 7 since he thought it would be big enough to accomodate us. They do have a lot of room for large parties including tables that are enclosed in a round banquette with a tentlike roof, there must have been 5 birthday or family groups there.
Prices were rather steep but we all were pleased with our meals and service was very accomodating and smart enough to hang back and let us have our conversations without interupting. Noise level is also ideal for large groups. We never had to shout at each other & all could hear around the table. Chairs are very comfy also. A lengthy wine list with the cheapest bottle I remember at about $35.
First courses at the table were more salads than choices from the apps. I had the roasted beets, good but not sensational. Others had the tomato & mozzerella salad-very very great...and a Caesar, standard and good. The bread basket was great with focaccia, parmesan crisps, rolls, and more.
For main course I had the venison osso bucco. Very flavorful but a little too rich and fatty for my tastes; the Israeli couscous on the side was fabulous. SO had a very tasty veal chop, huge portion to look at it but once fat was removed was more standard-size. To the left of me was a wonderful seared tuna on a potato cake. Others at the table had the scallops which they were pleased with but I did not sample.
Everybody was very full so we just had 2 desserts at the table. A very buttery apple tart a la mode and a vertical tiramisu also very good. A small plate of the tiniest brownie ever(1) and strawberry marshmallows accompanied the check.
So to sum up Restaurant 7. It was a very fine evening, pricey but a great place for upscale larger gatherings where you want a comfortable noise level. I would go back but I wouldn't rush back or "dream & drool" if you know what I mean. One thing I did find odd; for the level of finery they had all these specialty nights and singles-type events advertised. The lounge is well removed from the dining room so noise shouldn't be a problem but just seemed out of place to me or an act of desperation due to slow business.
The recommendation I had received from the 'hounds was Artie's so we went there for lunch. Started with the homemade chips with warm blue cheese...kind of an update on nachos which was very tasty, especially the marinated tomatoes. I had a nice chicken paillard on angel hair but was annoyed that server had assured me there was no cream sauce there was one circling the pasta...since they do team service I never saw her again to tell her of her error. Also at the table was their great steak salad with potatoes and artichokes which I would order if I returned and chicken tenders which also looked good though not exciting in any way.
Service did seem to hover with the team-style we must have had 4 different people constantly asking "how is everything" which started to grate...but would return.
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