Carlyle is one of the Great American Restaurants, a familiar group that includes Arties, Coastal Flats, Mike's American, Sweetwater Tavern, Silverado, and Best Buns Bread Co.
The restaurant is in Shirlington, a place little known to the Metro-dependent, but worth the trip. It's housed in a large U-shaped shopping center (Clarendon-like) that includes other good restaurants, shopping, AND a movie theater. Heck, take your next date to Shirlington.
I recommend you make this date at lunch time. I consider myself a brunch connoisseur, and let me tell you, it seems it isn't easy to get it right. Boulevard Woodgrill? Eh, it's ok. Harry's Tap Room? Pretty good, not spectacular. Tallula? On the downhill.
With fresh (still-warm) powdered donuts (a friend claimed they are donut-like rolls, not straight up donuts) and slices of a loaf of (carrot and nut?) bread, Carlyle knows how to start you off on the right foot. For entrees, the lunchgoers AND their breakfast-only counterparts will both be please. I enjoyed the most fabulous (and huge) piece of grilled salmon (very hot, temperature-wise) on top of a crunchy salad with dates, pine nuts, and dried cranberries, and some of my comrades had pieces of delicious (I didn't taste it, but from the way one of them rolled her eyes in the back of her head in delight after the first bite...) French toast, each piece so thick they were practically blocks, not slices. You can get straight up sweetness with French toast served with berries, or go savory with some eggs and meat on the side. There are sandwiches, salads, and fish dishes galore--the only complaint I have is that there's no big fluffy veggie omelet.
You can even get a $1 treat from Best Buns for Fido.
Dinner is similarly tasty, but of course the bread in the basket isn't donut-like at all...tear. The variety of cocktails, beers, and wines by the glass will make your whole party happy. Between us, we had steak, pork tenderloin, and the parmesan and herb crusted flounder (TWO filets, one would have sufficed--I took the other home but fish reheated is always ehh). The creamy mashed cauliflower is my favorite side--I keep spooning it up until my spoon comes up empty. I have yet to have dessert at Carlyle, but if I did, I'd have the flourless chocolate waffle. Maybe next time.
4000 Campbell Avenue
Metro: No rail, but probably a bus...somewhere. We drove, free parking on weekends!