Wolf Trap's productions all take place in America's National Park for the Performing Arts, where the company will fill the stage with musical theatrics and entertain more than 7,000 enthralled audience members on the lawn and in the covered seating area. The lawn seating offers elevated views for downward stage viewing, complete with benefits that chair-bound seating can only dream of. Lawn-based groundlings get to bring their own picnic, complete with any beer, wine, or beverage they desire (except kegs, which are prohibited, and whiskey bongs, which are strictly forbidden by common sense). As you gnaw your way through a dinner of comically oversized turkey legs, lose yourself in the story of a bubbly blond lawyering her way to singcess or the Von Trapps escaping Nazis on the wings of impossibly catchy lyrics. Unlike a musical evening at the Worf Trap, Wolf Trap productions are guaranteed to never end in dismemberment by bat'leth.
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Incorporating Spanish, Italian, and North African influences in their French-inspired Mediterranean fare, the eclectic Old-World cuisine of Mediterranee Restaurant earned a spot on Gayot's list of the Top 10 French Restaurants in Virginia Suburbs in 2012. In addition to classics such as house-prepared pâté and rack of lamb encrusted with herbs de provence, the chef and his staff occasionally move beyond the French borders by incorporating flavors like house-made curry into their dishes. For an extra twist, they'll also add Asian flavors with ingredients such as sichuan peppercorns and baby bok choy.
Located inside Leigh House, a Victorian mansion built in 1880, Dante Ristorante fosters a homey atmosphere with friendly service and antique furnishings. Beneath high ceilings festooned with brass chandeliers, chef and owner Giuseppe Di Benigno mingles with his guests, discussing his herb- and vegetable-gardening techniques and sharing recipes from his hometown in the Abruzzo region of Italy. Meanwhile, waiters pile white tablecloths with house-made pastas, salmon topped with prosciutto, and Giuseppe's signature seafood soup brimming with scallops, mussels, calamari, and clams.
Chef Di Benigno was drawn to the Leigh House not only for its architecture, but its eclectic past: the mansion has served as everything from a dairy-farm headquarters to a hospital during its 130-year history. A 10-month renovation transformed it into a modern restaurant space with cozy dining areas, classic artwork, and natural lighting. Outside, a fountain gurgles on a patio lined with tables topped with umbrellas and patrons practicing their Mary Poppins impressions.:
Zagat-rated El Manantial melds a mouthwatering marriage of French, Spanish, and Italian culinary traditions on their expansive dinner menu. Diners bask in a bevy of tapas, which include spanish omelettes ($5.95), crispy thai chicken ($5.95), and embutidos—a divinely delectable combination of cured meat, pork loin, sausage, and manchego cheese that fills conversational gaps and blazer pockets with scrumptiousness ($8). The restaurant's elegant dining room, which is lined with sweeping murals of Mediterranean seascapes, comfortably houses massive entrees from flounder imperial—a blackened mahi mahi filet bedecked in cognac cream sauce ($22.95)—to thinly sliced duck breast ornamented with raspberry dressing ($25.95). The extensive wine list regales palates with Spanish tempranillos and other international vintages by the glass (starting at $7), bottle, and trough.