Wanted to report to the Chowhounders on our 3-day, 2-night mini-vacation in Georgetown. I wanted to go to Paris, or falling that, Montreal, for our 25th anniversary; wound up in Georgetown with the kids staying at home in Maryland. Oh well, decided to turn the experience into Paris on the Potomac. Here’s the run-down.
First night (the real anniversary) went to 1789 – never went and the consensus on the Chow was positive. Yes, they treated us nicely for our anniversary (prime table, menu we could keep that wished us Happy Anniversary). Husband loved his meal – his first ever steak tartar (looked great, but I don’t go there), nice salad with blue cheese. In retrospect, his main dish, the steak, was less than optimal – seemed burned (not just charred) and the potato pancake was overly garlicky and cold. Speaking of cold, my meal was a disaster. I’m not a fan of sweet with savory (except for foie gras, where it works) and particularly when the savory is fish (except for Thai, works there too) – at 1789, all the fish entrees had sweet elements. The waiter tried to offer having the fish cooked minus the sweet (not sure if it was for my benefit or his tip) but what’s the point of messing with the dish. So I ordered two appetizers – the oyster stew was a mistake – one, it was cold (and the waiter never came back to check), two, it was sweet! (perhaps from the cream), and three, the oyster coating had a burnt taste (oh, and four, no “essence of the sea” in the soup). I had a homemade pasta with mushrooms as the second appetizer – that was fine, even inspired with a quail egg that ran runny into the sauce. Desert was great, if misnamed (as the waiter did warn) – vanilla and chocolate “bread pudding” which was essentially crème brulee without the crusts a few strips of brioche cooked in. Divine, and more than enough for two to share. Note, amazing diverse crowd, from the blue-haired lady types, to Euro trash (I think a ring the size of Manhattan upon one’s otherwise tiny finger qualifies for that pejorative), to table next to us of twenty-something, multi-racial and each gorgeous expense-accounters.
Second night was at Marcel’s at 24th and Penn (we told them it was our anniversary also, which was essentially true, as we had wedding receptions on two days). Near perfect. Lot’s of happy anniversary’s, including drawing it in chocolate on our desert plate (now if desert had been free, that would have been even better). Maybe not best seat, in the back room, but fine. Placed littered with congressman in town for inauguration. Waiter who steered us right – husband teetering between steak and lamb, got the lamb, which was absolutely outstanding – the most tender, perfectly cooked lamb tenderloin wrapped in filo. Oh, and he had steak tartar again, said it topped 1789. I had the duck ravioli—which showed why you go to Marcel’s and spend the money: I would never attempt to (nor could I): (a) make duck confit, and then shred the meat; (b) make tender pasta wrappers, (c) make a long-cooked stock for the base of an intense sauce. Luscious. I had the special seafood stew: came out piping hot, but not overcooked, in a delicate broth with finely and precisely chopped veggies and little pasta squares. Elegant if restrained. Desert excellent, if not at the level of the comfort food pudding at 1789 – chocolate mouse with raspberry sauce and peach sorbet – while a restrained portion, fine for us to share.
Last meal I’ll bore you with: lunch at Bistro Lepic, at the very north tip of Georgetown/south Glover Park. To my amazement, wait staff showed uncharacteristic (compared to our experience in France) flexibility and let us order the cheese sampler normally reserved for the wine bar. Waiter urged us to get the five-cheese instead of the three-cheese to share – he’s right, the portions are very small. When hubby raved over the Petit Basque, waiter brought out a doggie bag with a chunk to take home, commiserating that his own heart condition put a damper on his desire to live on cheese and bread and butter. The guy is a great character. Speaking of bread and butter, can one justify going to Lepic and spending the not insubstantial bucks for just the bread alone? The answer must be yes. Best bread ever. Just French bread handed out one piece at a time, but perfect crust; perfect taste. Hubby’s beef medallions (you think the guy is red-meat deprived?) was fine (polenta to die for) and my chicken salad – again with the runny egg was very good, and hit the spot after so many meals. So we’ll need to go back to try other entrees and EAT BREAD.
Runner’s up: breakfast crepes in oh so French Cafe Bonaparte (excellent cafe au lait, authentic crepes with unauthentic fillings), breakfast croissants and afternoon cake at Patisserie Poupon (worth the walk up the hill). P.S. We stayed at the Latham Hotel, in one of the “suites” (actually a room with a loft), which I can recommend – it’s not the Four Seasons, but worth the more reasonable tariff.
All in all, we ate happy, and got our fill of French food without heading on a plane.