Rita’s Date Guide for Guys: Policy Restaurant, Washington, DC

14 Feb
Read this article in the PDF version: Policy – Rita’s Date Guide
“A swanky U Street joint with creative tapas and a cool lounge.”

The Love Dining Room at Policy Restaurant, DC

Since reading all its rave reviews, I’ve been dying to try out  Policy Restaurant for a while.  So, I got my friend “Buck” to take me there for my very first date field trip. I loved Policy because everything about it – the food, the drinks, the setting – is sexy.

Provocatively named “The Love Dining Room,” the bar and restaurant of Policy is definitely one of the most unique spots to go to in DC.  With glowing red vinyl booths against  sharp black walls and stamped tin ceiling, it’s styled after a diner–but much swankier.  It looks and feels like a film set from Oceans Eleven. I felt sexier simply by walking into the restaurant!


What to Wear

Almost any style of dress works at Policy. The cozy, intimate booths would make you feel comfortable in nice jeans but, since I went to the date straight from work, I was dressed up and so Buck wore a suit for me. We felt like we fit right in with the stylish ambience (and like we might be able to take part in some kind of sexy heist after).  If your date hasn’t been to Policy before, when you mention the location, give her a heads up on how you plan to dress.  Girls take their outfits very seriously. 


Policy's Salt Roasted Local Beets


What to Order

The food is delicious and elegantly designed.  Policy serves it tapas style, so the plates are small and made to share.  Our friendly waiter, Vinny, recommended ordering six plates (2-3 per person), but I suggest starting with four and waiting until later to order more (or saving room for one of their fabulous desserts or after dinner drinks).  We were especially impressed by the Salt Roasted Local Beets (with pistachio pesto and gorgonzola mousse) and the Blackened Diver Scallops!  If you are like Buck, and choosing six dishes in an unknown restaurant, in front of a new date, makes your nervous (or seems potentially costly), be sure to read Secret Tip #1 for the great insider tips that the General Manager, Jordan, provided!

Cocktails at Policy

What to Drink

If you and your date are interested in smooth and carefully crafted cocktails, suggest that she try a Hibiscus Cocktail.  It’s sweet and lovely and actually has a hibiscus flower in the bottom that you can eat. Men, if you want to feel like Dean Martin, then be sure to get a Black Manhattan, Policy’s version of the classic man’s cocktail with top shelf scotch.

Where to Sit

When you make your reservation, request one of the following tables.  The booth all the way in the back (Table 32) is very moodily lit and intimate–you’ll feel like a couple of spies.  The small booth (Table 15) all the way in the front,  near the bar, is more charming and allows for better people-watching (and honestly has more flattering light).  On warm nights, you can really impress your date by reserving the front window table.  You’ll feel like VIPs!

Liberty Lounge at Policy


Where to Go After

Right upstairs!  Policy is designed as an all-night destination.  Their Liberty Lounge is a roomy little club decorated by graffiti artist, Andrew Funk.  It has DJs on the weekends and Karaoke on Wednesday nights if you’re feeling Rat Packy.  The room has several partially enclosed booth areas that make you feel like you’ve got a private cabana right in the club.


 Where is It?

1904 14th Street, NW,Washington,DC 20009

(202) 387-7654

www.policyDC.com – the website is very informative

Hours:  Daily, 5:30 pm – 2:30 am (food served until 12:30 am)


How to Get There

Policy is metro accessible, located at the U Street/Cordozo Stop on the Yellow and Green Lines.  Personally, I suggest driving your date as it provides a more intimate pre-date connection and can set the mood for a romantic evening.  Take advantage of Policy’s Valet Parking ($15), as street parking is limited. 


Secret Tips

Secret Tip #1: Call ahead and tell Policy you’re bringing a date that evening.  Tell them how much you’d like to spend and ask them to design a meal for the two of you to fit your budget. (Be sure to have asked your date about any dietary restrictions.) She will be impressed by your decisiveness and planning and the two of you can sit back and get to know each other while being pleasantly surprised as the courses come to your table one by one. (Be sure to tell Policy you heard about them from Rita’s Date Guide for Guys, but not in front of your date!)

In fact, calling ahead and letting a restaurant know who you are, and that you hoping to impress a date at their place, is always a good way to find out about unique opportunities and you often get a warm welcome at the door and other special treatment!


Secret Tip #2: Make your date at Policy for a Wednesday night and get a bottle of wine for half price. Your date doesn’t have to know! Our waiter recommended the Willamette Valley 2010 Pinot Noir, Oregon, and I was very impressed!


Pocket Guide to a Date at Policy

Style: Swanky Casual

Expect to spend: $40 – $120

Best tables: 15, 32 or window

Best evening:  Wednesday (1/2 price wine bottles and karaoke)

Order: Roasted Local Beets and Blackened Diver Scallops – or let Policy choose for you.

Drinks: Hibiscus Cocktail (for her) and Black Manhattan (for him)

After dinner: Liberty Lounge located upstairs

Where to make your move: Sit beside her in a partially enclosed booth in the Lounge. If she doesn’t slide away, you know you’ve got a shot!

My night at Policy was extremely fun and I don’t think you can go wrong with this date, boys!  I’d love to hear all about yours, so drop me a line and tell me your stories!


 Win a $50 Gift Certificate to Policy Restaurant!

We’d love to hear what you have to say!  Post a comment to this blog no later than Sunday, February 19, 2012 and you’ll be entered to win a $50.00 gift certificate to Policy!  The winner will be randomly selected and announced in the next “Rita’s Date Guide for Guys” post on February 21st! 

 (Not sure what to comment?  Here’s a topic up for debate!  Should a guy take the bold move of ordering for a woman?  Men, do you feel comfortable doing the ordering?  Women, do you think it’s sexy when a guy takes charge and orders for you?)

**Pursuant to “what’s right” as well as what the FTC thinks is right *wink*, I’d like to disclose the following:  Policy Restaurant graciously donated the date for Buck and me, as well as the $50 gift certificate that was raffled, in order for us to be able to truly bring to you the best way to navigate a date at this location!


22 Responses to “Rita’s Date Guide for Guys: Policy Restaurant, Washington, DC”

  1. Kirsten February 14, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

    I don’t particularly care for a guy to order my food for me, unless we’ve discussed before hand what I want to eat, b/c sometimes even I don’t know what I want to order til I’m telling the waiter! I think there are so many other ways for a guy to be chivalrous….that doesn’t need to be one of them.
    That said…Policy looks amazing and I keep hearing about this place….can’t wait to try it out! Now all I gotta do is find a date to go with! 🙂

  2. Lynne Powell February 14, 2012 at 3:06 pm #

    I hope I get to try it! I have not had a man outright order for me, but I have told a date what I was planning to order and he then ordered for both of us. It was a little surprising but I didn’t think it was a problem. I don’t think a man should just make an assumption about what I will be eating, though.

  3. Kelly February 14, 2012 at 3:11 pm #

    I’m such a picky eater that I’d be turned off if a guy ordered for me. I can read and make my own decisions, thanks. This place looks awesome though – I’d love to check it out!

  4. Rita February 14, 2012 at 3:18 pm #

    See, I’m completely the opposite! I LOVE when a guy orders for me. I tend to have this problem where I stick to the same things or at least the same type of things. If a guy takes time ahead of time to find out what I like…and then says “Rita, I know you really enjoy Duck, so I’d like to suggest that you order the Duck with Truffled Red Current Port – I’m in heaven. Amazed that he took the time to find out what I’d like, remembered it and then found something on the menu to suggest! Or, at a place like this, if he goes “The Salted Roasted Local Beets are amazing. I know you may not think so, but I’d like that to be one of the orders so you can try it.” LOVE a guy that would push me outside of my “food comfort zone” a bit – plus it shows that they are making an effort instead of “well, what do you want.”

  5. Gwen February 14, 2012 at 3:19 pm #

    First off: Wow! Policy looks fantastic! I think a guy should take charge in ordering for his date. It shows he is decisive and has an idea of what would taste good. I would give a guy props for making me feel like a lady.

  6. nikki jo February 14, 2012 at 3:30 pm #

    A date trying to order for me would be risky business.

    If you pick for me, and it’s not what I wanted or something I don’t like, you’ve put me on the spot. When you ask if I liked it I’m going to either have to be an ungrateful bitch and tell you I did not or lie. I don’t appreciate choice being taken away, so if we’re just getting to know each other and you choose my dinner, I’m going to wonder what else you’re going to try to choose for me. Someone I’m in a relationship could probably pull this off, but a mere date is courting disaster.

    If you want to take charge, order a drink for me that you think I might like, but might not have tried on my own.

    Now I want to know what is in this Hibiscus Cocktail?!?

    • Rita February 14, 2012 at 3:34 pm #

      Hangar One Mandarin Blossom, Fresh Hibiscus, Prosecco, St. Germaine, Hibiscus-Grenadine

  7. Derek February 14, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

    I will order for the lady but only if we have discussed what she wants.

  8. indeeskitchen February 14, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

    I can definitely appreciate suggestions, but I’m not sure I’d like my date to have the final say in what I’m eating that evening.

    Great review, Rita! Can’t wait to see what else you’ve got!

  9. Kayla February 14, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

    I actually think I’m with Rita on the date ordering part, especially if they know food! I wouldn’t be so keen on it if they didn’t give me a heads up before the waiter got there though. Rita’s approach would be fantastic. It shows the guy is thinking about you and what you like, and combining it with his knowledge. To have someone show that they are really understanding who you are and what you like would be a turn on, not to mention showing off their knowledge of good food 🙂 I’m definitely going to have to visit this place!

  10. Vicki R February 14, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

    You had me at “swanky” — one of my favorite words of all time. I think this is a really fun idea for a dating/restaurant guide. Nice format, very comprehensive. Love the secret tips. Kudos!

  11. Todd B February 14, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

    How funny that most of the comments center around the man ordering food for the woman … knowing my own strong food preferences, I would never presume to order food for a date, so it was interesting to see others’ take on this. Rita, I see your point, but as Nikki Jo pointed out, perhaps this would work best when the relationship is a bit established.

    That said, I like the approach of this review, and look forward to reading more! Really useful, pragmatic info — especially like the “secret tips” part!

  12. Jeff February 14, 2012 at 11:43 pm #

    I’m not sure why it’s better to call and ask the restaurant to design a meal for us when I could go to their website, look at the menu and do it myself. Maybe the staff at Policy is more friendlier, but my personal experience has been that unless you’re a regular at a place or know someone on the staff, introducing yourself by calling ahead and hoping to get perks is a crap shoot. Especially on a busy night where the staff might have trouble remembering who you are.

    As far as ordering for your date, I think it would only work if the lady was already feeling good about you and the direction of the date. On the other hand if she was on the fence about you then making decisions for her might put her on the defensive. Do the middle ground, make menu suggestions. Tell her what you like on the menu and suggest stuff she might like.

  13. Debra February 15, 2012 at 7:52 am #

    Loved the review of the food. I’m salivating already! Suggestions when I can’t decide are always helpful but that assumes my date knows my tastes. How many dates does it take to know someone well enough to order for them? Suggestions can work both ways; as a woman, I can suggest food choices for a man, and I think it only consolidates the feelings of being close.

  14. Lindsay February 15, 2012 at 9:48 am #

    That’s a tough call on the ordering. On one hand it would be adventurous if the guy has been to the restaurant and you are open (and not picky!) to trying something new. On the other, without knowing me very well I’d prefer to decide what to eat. It’s all a matter of how well you know the person (and their taste buds) I think. I think somewhere in the middle like Debra mentions “suggestions” are best. I think I am going to have to visit this Policy for dinner – Salt Roasted Beets and Karaoke!? SOLD!

  15. Shelley February 15, 2012 at 10:31 am #

    I love Policy. They have amazing Mac & Cheese!

    I think I would be really annoyed if a guy just ordered off the menu for me. I guess if he pre planned some amazing 5 course dinner I would be ok with it if I felt he was trying to share something with me rather than be a controlling jerk.

  16. Kayla February 15, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

    Rita–great post! I’m not a guy, but I’m going to use your secret tips anyway. =)

    Most people find confidence really attractive. If you know your date isn’t one of those people that only eats one type of food or mundane things, I think it could really work for you. But, you’d have to do it confidently and be able to defend your choice. Otherwise, for me, I’d be suspicious and think the guy was just being a pompous a-hole assuming that he could just magically point at some random thing on the menu and I’d eat it. If he had justification, it could be really cool.

  17. Guinevere February 16, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    Everyone needs to eat, and dinner at a swanky place can be very fun, and this particular place looks lovely for that. However, doing nothing but dinner dates seems kind of safe and unoriginal and probably not the best opportunity to bond, so it is important to have other ideas for dates as well. Karaoke can be a nice addition to a dinner date if you are both into it.

    There is a lot to lose and not much to gain by ordering for a woman. Making the decision for me and getting it wrong would be a bad move. Making suggestions is great for either the man or the woman, but then the response to the suggestion is an important part of the process. If you have a lively discussion about the food and communicate what to order, then the man tells the waiter, that can be fun. I am a very picky eater and if a guy can learn my likes and dislikes I am touched that he paid attention and cares, but if he knows me that well he probably knows better than to order for me.

    • Rita February 16, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

      Absolutely. This is weekly all the way through the end of the year and there are definitely non dinner dates planned too! But many enjoy dinner for a first date especially so learning secret tips can help you navigate that date successfully. 🙂

  18. Melanie Spring (@Sisarina) February 17, 2012 at 9:57 am #

    I LOVE Policy. Downstairs is fantastic for a date and upstairs is one of the best venues to host a party.

  19. JTH February 17, 2012 at 3:52 pm #

    I would definitely recommend Policy for dinner or a night out. Great setup downstairs and up…I’d stay away from ordering for your date on the first night out. Maybe on date #2 at another venue. Seems like a dbag thing to do on date #1.


  1. Rita’s Date Guide for Guys: Winner of $50 Gift Certificate to Policy Restaurant Announced « Rita's Quest - February 21, 2012

    […] was an overwhelmingly positive response to the first post of “Rita’s Date Guide for Guys:  Policy Restaurant!“  The comments provided by the readers really sparked some interesting discussion and I look […]

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