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recommendation for family dinner with difficult-to-assimilate food preferences?

erh909 | Aug 11, 200910:02 AM

Hi all--I'm posting in hopes of finding a recommendation for a challenging family dinner. My fiance and I are planning to take our parents out to dinner a few days before our wedding; the purpose of the dinner is to thank our parents for their generosity, so we really want to find a place where everyone can feel comfortable and enjoy themselves.

That's where the trouble starts. Our parents include:

--my dad, who has travelled a ton, eaten everything everywhere, likes fancier places, and can be something of a food snob at times.

--my mom and my stepdad, who like small ethnic restaurants and are kind of reverse restaurant snobs--if I take them to a restaurant that has any decor beyond, say, formica and a supplier's wall calendar, they're guaranteed to spend at least part of the meal complaining that the place is overrated and/or overpriced and they could make the exact same dishes at home.

--my future in-laws, who are very, very, profoundly New Englanders. Due to extreme politeness and a mortal terror of wasting food they will eat everything that's put in front of them, but there are very few cuisines that they would consider comfortable and familiar. Home cooking is usually meat, potatoes, some vegetables boiled beyond recognition and pie. My fiance claims they enjoy the occasional Chinese dinner, but they must be eating egg foo yung or something because we took them out to dim sum in NYC and it was a disaster.

Can anybody recommend a cuisine (or, even better, a specific restaurant) where all of these people might find happiness? We were thinking of giving up and cooking for them at home, but we will have relatives staying there so that's out now. We do have a few other constraints (in case the ones I just listed weren't enough): we're having middle eastern food (after much discussion of whether future in-laws would not be alarmed at the presence of olive oil) at the reception so are hoping to avoid that at the dinner; we're hoping to find a place that's quiet enough for older adults to have a conversation since his parents will be meeting my dad for the first time; we're hoping to stay around $50/head but can definitely be flexible; we're hoping to stay within a 30-minute (driving) radius of DC.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

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