Restaurants take aim at draconian DUI laws

The recent Washington Post article concerning the plight of a 45-year-old woman arrested for having one glass of wine before driving has raised the hackles of local restaurants in addition to nervous diners.

The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW), which represents more than 600 restaurants in the D.C. area, released a statement that reads: “While we understand there are two sides to every story, we also understand two things: The consumption of alcoholic beverages is legal in the District of Columbia. Operating a motor vehicle while impaired is not. Suggesting that anyone having consumed any measurable amount of alcohol is subject to arrest is irresponsible.

The statement goes on to question whether such a policy will hamper D.C.’s economic development as patrons take their business elsewhere, and questions the allocation of department resources.

“Crime on U Street is increasing along with a burgeoning restaurant and nightlife scene; should not more emphasis be placed on real quality of life issues rather than the arrest of law-abiding citizens for one glass of wine?” RAMW asks.

The D.C. Council has acted to soften the law, but Williams has yet to sign or veto it.

Wine and beer dinners

Area restaurants may have good reason to be concerned about D.C.’s zero-tolerance policy toward drinking and driving. The fall calendar is filling up fast with wine and beer dinners at area restaurants.

On Thursday, Nov. 3, Extra Virgin in Shirlington Village will host a five-course dinner featuring wines from Barboursville Vineyards. Menu highlights include homemade ravioli filled with pumpkin, served with butter and sage sauce, and pistachio-crusted lamb chop served with black-truffle tart, sweet-and-sour cippollini and foie gras sauce.

The dinner is priced at $65 per person, plus gratuity. A reception begins at 6:30 p.m., and the dinner begins at 7:30 p.m. Call (703) 998-8474.

For something a bit pricier, Le Paradou on Indiana Avenue is hosting a wine dinner with Bordeaux’s acclaimed Chateau Palmer wines on Wednesday, Oct. 26.

Throughout a five-course dinner by Chef Yannick Cam, the restaurant will pour 1981, 1990, 1996 and 1998 vintages.

The dinner is $210 inclusive. Call (202) 347-8160 for reservations.

For those who prefer the barley instead of the grape, Chef Geoff’s downtown is hosting a dinner featuring beers by Delaware’s Dogfish Head Brewery on Oct. 25.

The six-course menu includes spicy tuna rolls, sweet-potato ravioli, ancho smoked duck breast, currant-glazed lamb and chocolate stout cake.

The meal is $69 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Call (202) 316-9242 for reservations.