The Place: Co Co. Sala Chocolate Boutique

The Scoop: The 5,000-square-foot restaurant opened its doors in May in D.C.'s Penn Quarter. The 160-seat, dessert-oriented lounge is outfitted in jewel tones and gold mosaic tile-clad walls and columns; plush, red velvet upholstery enhances the seating area. The restaurant is divided into three dining areas, offering intimate enclaves and spaces ideal for socializing. With a total square footage of 5,000, Co Co. Sala can host up to 250 guests; a rooftop event area can accommodate up to 400.

The Buzz: The restaurant's pastry bar tempts guests with a variety of espresso- and chocolate-based drinks. A humidity-controlled “chocolate room,” which is showcased behind a glass window, features a small bar with five seats; chocolate classes are also offered. The restaurant hosts movie premiere after-parties, chocolate- and wine-tasting soirees and corporate dinners.

The Quote: “We aimed to create a sophisticated space that would illustrate the multiple functions it supports. Dramatic wave walls emulate flowing chocolate while defining intimate seating areas. Elegant displays enhance the intricate details of the jewel-like chocolates being showcased. Two glimmering bars serve as the perfect backdrop for the sumptuous pastries within and at night transform into a provocative atmosphere where tantalizing cocktails are served.” — Alex Hurtado, IA Interior Architects, Co Co. Sala designer

The 411:
Co Co. Sala
929 F St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20004
202/347-4265
www.cocosala.com

The Place: The National Museum of Crime and Punishment

The Scoop: Since the museum's opening in May, it has become one of the city's hottest event venues. You don't have to be a glutton for punishment to enjoy the museum's many galleries and exhibits — including one called “Murderabilia” — and interactive crime-fighting games. Guests are submersed in the outlaw world of Wild West desperados and Depression-era mobsters; for those with a morbid side, medieval torture devices are on display. An entire level of the museum is a studio devoted to year-round filming of TV program “America's Most Wanted.”

The Buzz: The 28,000-square-foot museum spans three levels, hosting receptions for groups up to 500 guests and seated dinners for up to 80 guests. Event-goers can munch on appetizers and sip cocktails among the exhibits and games thanks to the museum's generous catering policy, which permits food in most areas throughout the facility.

The Fans: Technology companies, tourism groups, investment bankers, local social organizations and government contractors are all clients. Unlike many other government-funded facilities in the D.C. area, the museum does not have restrictions on political events or fundraisers.

The Quote: “Where else in Washington can you find a spectacular view of the city, a functioning television studio, and the ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ ‘death car’? There really isn't anywhere else where you can find such an elegant setting complemented with interactive exhibits.” — Janine Vaccarello, chief operating officer

The 411:
National Museum of Crime and Punishment
575 Seventh St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20004
202/393-1099
www.crimemuseum.org

The Face: Laura Weatherly

The Biz: Engaging Affairs

The Scoop: Since its inception in 1996, Engaging Affairs has been on top of the wedding-planning game. The company has made Washingtonian Magazine's “Best of Weddings” list every year since 1998; Weatherly has been named “Best Overall Wedding Planner” by the same magazine for several years in a row.

The Buzz: The boutique-style business focuses on only a select number of events a year, allowing for individualized service for each client. The company's specialties range from lush garden weddings to cutting-edge cocktail parties. Weatherly shares her wedding industry knowledge by offering seminars twice a year in the D.C. area and by special request to private groups.

The Quote: “Engaging Affairs has become known for its ‘fusion’ weddings — the blending of religions and cultures into an event that showcases and honors both traditions. Since we are based out of Washington, our clientele is very international, and we've had the opportunity to create some amazing wedding celebrations for brides and grooms from every corner of the globe. We love the fact that no two Engaging Affairs weddings are ever the same!” — Laura Weatherly, founder

The 411:
Engaging Affairs
5443 Broadmoor St.
Alexandria, VA 22315
888/481-5156
www.engagingaffairs.com

NEW IN TOWN

Select Event Rentals' new hand-painted gold dessert and salad plates are enhanced by floral and a touch of Asian flair.
800/439-8729
www.weparty.com

Digital Lightning's decor company, Syzygy Event Productions, offers custom Lucite dance floors lit from beneath using changeable LED lighting. Dance floor height is adjustable.
866/468-6440
www.syzygyevents.com

Chocolate Graphics shows it is bipartisan with its new Obama/Biden- and McCain/Palin-embossed chocolates. Personalized chocolates are a sweet way of showing off a business logo or commemorating a wedding. The company's products are 100 percent chocolate; no inks are used.
703/447-8819
www.chocolategraphicsncr.com