Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Cafe du Parc

Photo Credit: Intercontinental Hotels
Once I was done eating my way through New York City, I continued my trek through the northeast by visiting our nation's capital: Washington D.C. There were a few places here I was dying to sink my teeth into.  D.C. has been home to leaders of the organic and sustainable movements for quite some time, and is quickly becoming a part of today's stylish dining scene; featuring a number of award winning chefs and an emphasis on fresh local cuisine.

After a day of historical exploring, I wanted to stay in the heart of the city for my dinner adventure so I walked on over to the Willard InterContinental Hotel to check out a french bistro there that sounded interesting: Cafe du Parc, located at 1401 Pennsylvania Avenue. I bet you're thinking isn't that the same avenue the White House is on? The answer is yes. Cafe du Parc is located very close to the White House over looking Pershing Park, as well as several national monuments and the downtown theatre district.

Hibiscus Champagne
Cafe du Parc is under the direction of three star Michelin Chef Antoine Westermann, one of the world's most admired and celebrated chefs. It has two floors indoors and offers outdoor seating as well. The first floor is a cafe during the day, (serving delightful pastries in between meals) and a wine bar at night. The second floor offers regional French favorites in a beautiful, elegant setting. This is where my adventure took place. From the moment we walked in, the service was superb. Our waiter, Tufan Kaya, took the time to explain each item we were interested in on the menu, as well as to provide suggestions based on our preferences. I was in heaven! Since it had been a very hot day (remember the heat wave that affected the northeast recently?) I wanted something refreshing. Tufan recommended I try a French cocktail that was both sweet as well as cooling: The Hibiscus Champagne. I loved it! There was a wild hibiscus flower sitting in the bottom of the champagne flute, with Heidsieck bubbling all around it. As the champagne fizzled, the hibiscus flower opened up and bloomed in my glass. It had to be one of the prettiest and most original cocktails I have sipped.

Assiette de Cochonnailles
Gateau de Crabe Facon "Westermann"
Excited, we then started off our meal with the Assiette de Cochonnailles, which loosely translated means "plate of pork meat". This was a charcuterie of sorts featuring pork rilletes, an impressive pork terrine, shaved Serrano ham, and dry salami; served with an assortment of house-made pickled vegetables and country toast. Scrumptious! The serrano ham and the dry salami were excellent, but it was the pork terrine and the the pork rilletes that made me swoon. The texture and flavor was perfect in both. The terrine was rich and delicate at the same time; while the amazing combination of meat and spices in the rilletes carried its full, bold taste to the tongue. It was the perfect start to our meal. Next, we ordered the Gateau de Crabe Facon "Westermann", which is a crabcake created "Westermann's Way". The crabmeat was flavorful and light and it was served with an appetizing remoulade sauce and a mixed green salad. Delicious!

Coquilles Saint-Jacques
NY Steak Frites
Between the exquisite food and the attentive service, we were getting more delighted by the minute.  We ordered our first entree: the Coquilles Saint-Jacques. These were seared scallops, served on potato confit, with herb puree and preserved lemon emulsion. The scallops were tender, with a sweet taste and a slightly creamy texture. They practically melted in my mouth. The potato confit had a succulent, buttery flavor that was outrageous. Our second entree was the Pan seared NY Steak Frites, served with Bearnaise Sauce. Cooked to perfection, the steak was juicy and well-seasoned while the fries were thick and crispy. The creamy smoothness of the Bearnaise Sauce made it the perfect complement to the steak and we embellished.

Grilled Gruyere Sandwich Sandwich

By the way, if you have little ones and you're wondering if there is something here for them; there is! Cafe du Parc offers an extensive children's menu which includes items such as Fresh Pasta with Parmesan Cheese and a Small Ground Beef Steak. It also features an all-time favorite dish: Grilled Gruyere Cheese Sandwich with hand-cut fries - the French way. It was both pleasing to the eye as well as to the the palate (for both children and those finicky child-like eaters).

Gateau Chaud au Chocolate
Glace a la vanille
I just wanted the adventure to continue all night long. When the dessert menu came, we were ready for more.  We ordered the Gateau Chaud au Chocolate avec noix de Pecan. (Can you tell I just loved practicing my French) This was a decadent Chocolate Pecan Brownie with Chocolate Ganache, served with Coffee Granita layered with Vanilla Mousse. Do I even have to say more? The refreshing Coffee Granita went so deliciously well with the moist Chocolate brownie that words are not enough to describe its richness. To make the sweetness linger just a few moments more, we also ordered the Glace a la vanille, which simply means vanilla ice-cream. Only, this was so much more. The vanilla ice-cream was blended with a crunchy caramel sauce, and topped with a bittersweet warm chocolate delight. Get the picture? It was an evening in Paris!

I venture to say this will be a dinner difficult to top. Cafe du Parc is a gem in the heart of D.C. and if you're making a trip to the area, you must stop by and indulge in their food, their stellar service and the French ambiance it envelopes you in. For more information, you can contact them at 202-942-7000 or visit them online at

Cafe du Parc on Urbanspoon

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