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Le Diplomate, French Brasserie on 14th and Q Street in 14UP - Chef Michael Abt Replaces Adam Schop


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I heard from an inside source today that Stephen Starr's restaurant group has signed a lease for the old Q Street Cleaners space at 1601 14th St. NW, and it's going to become a Buddakan.

Confidence level? Since I'm relying on a source for this (as opposed to hearing it with my own ears), it can't be 100%, but it's up there.

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So I see there hasn't been a lot of posts on Le Diplomate in recent years and I too have made the mistake of not going there in a long time. I fixed that problem last weekend and you should too. The p

This past weekend we conducted a fun albeit unintentional and expensive experiment. We were in Manhattan on Friday night and had dinner at Betony.  For our main courses we ordered the skate and the sh

One thing you have to say about Le Diplomate is that it's often open. Not only is Le Diplomate often open, it's also often expensive - deceptively so, but in fairness, no more so than any of the other

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I heard from an inside source today that Stephen Starr's restaurant group has signed a lease for the old Q Street Cleaners space at 1601 14th St. NW, and it's going to become a Buddakan.

Confidence level? Since I'm relying on a source for this (as opposed to hearing it with my own ears), it can't be 100%, but it's up there.

Read a mention of this on Prince of Petworth

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Some random information for perspective: Parc is a 280 seat behemoth of a restaurant in the poshest neighborhood in Philly. Parc's former chef was Artie Cavaliere (recently departed from Central). Parc originally secured a decent 2 bells from renowned critic Craig Laban in 2008 but was upgraded to a strong 3 bells later in the year. Starr restaurants are generally high concept spots that can (Dandelion, Striped Bass) or can't (Pod, Continental) perform in the kitchen.

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Some random information for perspective: Parc is a 280 seat behemoth of a restaurant in the poshest neighborhood in Philly. Parc's former chef was Artie Cavaliere (recently departed from Central). Parc originally secured a decent 2 bells from renowned critic Craig Laban in 2008 but was upgraded to a strong 3 bells later in the year. Starr restaurants are generally high concept spots that can (Dandelion, Striped Bass) or can't (Pod, Continental) perform in the kitchen.

There are two Continentals, but assuming your reference was to Continental Midtown, I've loved everything I've ever ordered there. CM has the most sense of humor of any of the Starr group, and you need to keep that in mind as you chow down on your Philly Cheesesteak eggrolls and french onion soup dumplings. Granted, it's an annoying hangout for young bar hoppers on a Saturday night, most of whom parade through the restaurant on their way to the rooftop bar.

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There are two Continentals, but assuming your reference was to Continental Midtown, I've loved everything I've ever ordered there.

I was trying to think of a spot that didn't do well or wasn't as big a destination restaurant (I think of the continentals as neighborhood spots) and should have used Tangerine or maybe Blue Angel as examples.

There's a posh neighborhood in Philly? tongue.gif

It's all relative.. There was a time when I thought Red Lobster was a great restaurant (in 1993). Then a few years later I worked the line and threw a lot of stuff (crab bisques, veggies, pasta, etc.) in the microwave.. blink.gif

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Is this really the only thread we have for Le Diplomate? (Well, it's still relevant - they are trying to hire (get this) a total of FORTY servers.)

As I approached Le Diplomate from the south, two things struck me: 1) It is much more casual and unassuming from the outside than I expected from a Starr restaurant, and 2) Once you're inside, you realize that it's much larger than you thought it was going to be. The corner space is extremely deceiving, and there is outdoor seating both on 14th and Q Streets. Another first impression I got when I walked in is, "My goodness, there are a lot of people working in here."

Do not let the aura of energy emitted by the staff fool you: they are exhausted from this opening, and if you go there, you'll see why - despite its size, the place gets packed. For example, they just started weekend brunch last weekend, and it's already fully booked. That is amazing, and speaks volumes for this community. Plans are in the works for an all-day brasserie which even includes breakfast - a neighborhood place where you can stop in anytime, open a book (when it's not full!), and hang out. Other than Cork, this is the first restaurant to make me wish I lived in 14UP (well, okay, maybe ChurchKey too).

After taking a lap, I almost literally bumped into Celia Laurent-Ziebold, former GM of Sou'Wester, and one of the opening managers at Le Diplomate. Celia is one of my best friends, and she advised me to take a seat quickly because it was going to get full. I pulled up a stool at the communal partition in the bar area, and started to peruse the menus, and the French comic book she brought me to keep me entertained. :)

Almost $7 million went into designing this restaurant, and it shows - I read an article today that said the wooden floors were made to creak on purpose. That may sound pretentious, but pretense will be the furthest thing from your mind when you come here - Le Diplomate is as comfortable as a silk robe in springtime. They really knocked the design out of the park, especially in making the corner space work so well to everyone's advantage.

While I browsed the menus, I enjoyed a large pour of NV Marquis de la Tour "Vin Mousseux" Brut ($9) from the Loire Valley. No, it's not champagne, but unlike a lot of sparkling whites, this had character of its own that made it worth drinking, then ordering a second, and then a third, glass. This can't retail for much more than $15 a bottle, and I'm going to go on a hunt for it, and use it as a house sparkler for awhile.

Celia recommended several small plates, one of which was the Steak Tartare de Parc ($15.50), a hand-chopped cylinder of filet, served with capers, a quail egg, small side salad, and crunchy slices of baguette. This was a fine steak tartare, and I didn't realize that the slight zing I was tasting was due to bit a red chili sauce (tabasco-like) that I noticed had left a reddish complexion on the white plate. For me, there was no need to even touch the crispy bread (which I tend not to love in general) because Le Diplomate has its own bakery, and offers a wonderful bread basket with three types of bread, including the best baguette you'll find on 14th Street.

I shunned Celia's recommendation of the pommes-frites, and went instead with the Radish Crudité ($6.50) which lent the crunch needed to accompany the mushy texture of the tartare. I adore sliced radishes with sea-salt and butter, and that's all this was, and all that I needed it to be.

For my final course, I stayed with another small plate, and ordered the Mushroom Tart ($11.50), a quartered circle of pioppini mushrooms and truffled pecorino. As beautiful as this looked, there was a heaviness to it that I didn't care for. In particular, the crust had a shortbread-like aspect that (literally) weighed the dish down, and detracted from the toppings - you'd think that pioppini mushrooms and truffled pecorino could stand up to a heavier crust, but I think it will need to either lighten up, or become thinner, for this dish to survive the summer. I had met three charming gentlemen as I was dining, and shared this tart with them - one of them described the crust as being "pot-pie like," and that's exactly the texture it had (the difference being that a chicken pot pie soaks and moistens the crust; here, it remained dry and crumbly). I liked this dish well enough, but there's way, way too much else on this menu to try for me to order it again anytime soon.

Thank you to the magnanimous GM Patrick Desotelle, who came and introduced himself, and also to Steve Uhr, who was previously at Bandolero. I suspect that over the course of the next few years, I will see many, many people here that I recognize from other restaurants. Le Diplomate is a goldmine, both for the owners, and also for the residents of 14UP.

Initialized in Italic in the Dining Guide.

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While I browsed the menus, I enjoyed a large pour of NV Marquis de la Tour "Vin Mousseux" Brut ($9) from the Loire Valley. No, it's not champagne, but unlike a lot of sparkling whites, this had character of its own that made it worth drinking, then ordering a second, and then a third, glass. This can't retail for much more than $15 a bottle, and I'm going to go on a hunt for it, and use it as a house sparkler for awhile.

It is a Palm Bay wine, it should not be that hard to find - the Palm Bay site says that MoCo has it, as does the way over-priced Fern Street and a place called Cornicopia in SE, or you could just ask someone that deals with Palm Bay to get you a case.

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It is a Palm Bay wine, it should not be that hard to find - the Palm Bay site says that MoCo has it, as does the way over-priced Fern Street and a place called Cornicopia in SE, or you could just ask someone that deals with Palm Bay to get you a case.

Thank you, sir - very useful info. Compared to the draft Riesling and Chardonnay I had the night before at Woodward Table, this wine was delightful. Split a box?

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Went last night and basically agree with Don -- this place, like virtually all Starr restaurants, will be a huge success. Even at this early stage, the quality control is awfully high: they've got all of the details down, so much so that it seems as if it has been a neighborhood institution for years rather than a fledgling operation that opened earlier in the week. As my dining companion remarked, it's virtually the definition of "convivial"--everyone in the room seems happy and content . . . at home. The millions were well-spent.

I also had the steak tartare, which was very good, but very filling (especially when conjoined with the addictive breads in the basket). The skate and frisee salad were both excellent.

Not cheap, however. Approaching, if not quite equaling, the price points at Balthazar, which La Diplomate unashamedly mimics in almost all particulars.

Still, I doubt that will keep the crowds at bay. Not going out on much of a limb to predict that La Diplomate will be part of the local firmament for quite a while.

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Not cheap, however. Approaching, if not quite equaling, the price points at Balthazar, which La Diplomate unashamedly mimics in almost all particulars.

Still, I doubt that will keep the crowds at bay. Not going out on much of a limb to predict that La Diplomate will be part of the local firmament for quite a while.

I read or heard somewhere that there was some discussion about whether or not to make Le (it's a male diplomat :)) Diplomate the second rendition of Parc (speakers off, note the *exact* same mushroom tart), but they decided to give it its own identity instead.

And you're right: it's not cheap - in fact, it's downright expensive, but that's mitigated (at least for me) by having a well-chosen wine list, wine damage often being 50% or more of my total bill. It's a good list for novices because you can just throw a dart at your price point, and you're likely to score a good bottle. Rosé is your friend here.

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Also had the mushroom tart, and I agree with Don's take on the crust. Also, the frites we had were not great - a medium size cut (bigger than Beck, smaller than Granville Moore's) that came out soggy and undersalted. That one was surprising, as I figured their fryer game would be strong right out of the box.

On the other hand, the quality of their seafood was outstanding. Oysters and mussels were super fresh and plump. The steamed mussels were cooked perfectly and were bigger than I've seen around lately.

Their Citron Presse is really well done if you are not drinking. The vibe and layout of this place really compels one to drink though.

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So glad there's now a thread for this. Went last weekend, Friday night -- the tail end of their "soft open," tho in this neighborhood there is no such thing as a soft open for a place like this. It was JAMMED. And had been every day that week from the start. ​Everyone in my group was French except me, we all really enjoyed the whole evening... A few specific notes:

  • Service: Outstanding, period. The bartenders were overwhelmed yet upbeat and attentive. Our reservation was for 9:15pm, we were seated right on time, very impressive given how packed it was and how much everyone was enjoying their evening there regardless of time. The waitstaff were also excellent and very fun. Not easy, given how intense the opening has been for them.
  • Food: The baguette is excellent (one in our group is a professional baker, agreed). So nice to have a place in the neighborhood to buy great baguettes. We all ordered "classic" fare to see how they would do... Onion soup, steak frites, mussels, etc. All very good. (I almost posted my moules frites on "Where did I dine" thread, but figured it would be too obvious.) The fries were pretty good, I'm sure they will improve as things settle down. I was the only one who wandered from the classics and ordered the mushroom tart to start -- totally agree with Don, with the addition that mine was sorely lacking in salt as well... overall a bland non-starter, unfortunately. But all else was great.

Will definitely frequent Le Diplomate, heading first to the outdoor tables if they're available. A wonderful addition to the neighborhood...

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A restaurant whose ambience is suited for a city that purports to be a world capital. Big and beautiful so that the noise seems appropriate and justifiable. Expensive but everyone seems happy to pay. The clientele may be mainly lobbyists, government staffers and paid interns but you can easily imagine that they have glamorous jobs. The drinks are delicious, the food is good, the service is friendly and attentive. Go here to impress out of town relatives, and bring along friends from Paris or New York without apology.

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A restaurant whose ambience is suited for a city that purports to be a world capital. Big and beautiful so that the noise seems appropriate and justifiable. Expensive but everyone seems happy to pay. The clientele may be mainly lobbyists, government staffers and paid interns but you can easily imagine that they have glamorous jobs. The drinks are delicious, the food is good, the service is friendly and attentive. Go here to impress out of town relatives, and bring along friends from Paris or New York without apology.

I'll simply add (given that I was the beneficiary of the meal that earned this glowing review) that Le Diplomate earns its hype and popularity. Much of the menu may look like standard-issue French bistro food, but pulling it off so well at this scale strikes me as a minor miracle. Just an enormously enjoyable place, and as Marty notes above, definitely reminiscent of Balthazar in NYC (and as one who abhors restaurant din, here one might even think that the noise adds to that enjoyment).

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There are few things we love more than French bistro food. My husband and I try to make a trip to Paris about once a year. We've been there in all seasons. Our favorite thing to do there is to sit in a cafe while sipping a cafe creme and watching the world go by. The running joke between us is that we have never seen the sun shine in that city. So it was fitting that the first time we try Le Diplomate it was pouring.

Reports that the restaurant is both visually and acoustically stunning are spot on. At 8:15 pm the bar and restaurant were totally full and they were seating people outside under the awnings, despite the weather (how Parisian). The crowd was typicsl of a DC hot spot: stylish young Logan Circle types, mixed with more mature adults from Bethesda, and some clean cut Virginians. They gave us a table near an open window and we settled in for what was a pleasant evening of Parisian style people watching and dining.

Agree with others that the bread service is delightful. But the butter was cold- the is a huge peeve of mine- and was similar to whipped Breakstones in flavor and texture. Please invest in some good European cultured butter. The asparagus soup was pretty much spot on but too rich to eat an entire bowl of. On the other hand the onion soup had an impressive slick of boiling hot oil on top of it that could not be attributed to the cheese. My skate wing was the thickest of that species I have ever seen and perfectly cooked. I liked the bracing salad that came with it, the textural contrast with the skate was spot on. The Moroccan lamb shank was less of a winner. Too much sweet and not enough spice made it a bit tepid.

Baba Au Rhum was my grandmother's favorite dessert. She once got so tipsy on a particularly good version that it made her kiss a French waiter on a cruise for her 85th birthday. Le Diplomate's would have been perfect for that, I've never experienced a boozier version. So much so that it took away from the otherwise lovely texture and flavor of the dessert. A couple bites in and I needed to stop. The chocolate Napoleon is more successful. The chocolate in lieu of pastry is a nice touch. It was light and rich at the same time.

We ordered wine by the glass. As in Paris, good with the food but otherwise unremarkable. Service is very friendly and pretty efficient. At one point my husband asked me if I had seen a busboy since the managers were clearing tables. Overall, the meal was very enjoyable. Based solely on the food I still prefer Cafe du Parc or Central. Beyond the incredible quality of the skate it didn't taste significantly different from what I have had at Mon Ami Gabi. Terasol up the street from us and 2/3 the price makes a better onion soup. But much like Paris, ambience is everything and if you want to feel like you are in Paris this is the place to go.

I am a notorious eavesdropper. The couple at the table next to us were celebrating their first wedding anniversary. They had gone on their honeymoon to Paris. This was a big night out for them, they had driven in from a far flung suburb. They got the foie (something they'd discovered in Paris), steak frites and creme brule, declaring the meal to be French perfection.

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So, you roll into Le Diplomate and you feel as though you've somehow magically left 14th Street and found yourself in Paris Balthazaar in New York, a movie set somewhat more realistic that Hugo but not quite as good as Midnight in Paris. Suspend a little disbelief and it's all good.

And the food is all good, too, though not great. Possibly the bread basket is the highlight, but the clams were fresh and served with proper American cocktail sauce, not that snooty mignonette. The onglet was unobjectionable, though we can all make that at home and the frites were pale and had an unfortunate texture, as though they'd been batter dipped or something (not that I think they were). The Bouillabaisse should perhaps have been called "Bouillbaisse," it seemed bland and underpopulated, a modernist adaptation of the classic, whose presentation had more zing than its taste. The mushroom tart appetizer was a keeper, though, with kudos to the crustacian (that's French for "crust-maker," right?) who ensured the crunch. The Grapefruit Coupe Glasse was kind of a a delightful mess, with grapefruit sorbet, financiers, whipped cream and whatever slung into a largish glass like a Tiki Room cocktail and somewhat gleefully slurped down.

The place distinguished itself with its service. We finagled a last-minute reservation (once again, the phone defeats Open Table) and then worked that into an outdoor deuce where we could watch the world walk by and avoid the indoor clamor. Our waitress was both delightful and competent, as we were modestly -- but always politely -- difficult. She remembered the "two straws" requested for the Sancerre that we ordered with the clams after we'd forgotten asking for them-- we were on a lo-test night out, two straws, one glass, like Archie and Veronica -- and handled our indecision at key points with aplomb.

We were a bit put off when some managerial type came around and announced that it was probably going to rain and so they'd have to roll up the awning under which we were perched because it wasn't built for the wind, and they probably didn't have room for us inside. Reality is reality but, as a communications professional, I think they need a better line than "it's going to rain and you're shit out of luck." Especially since they handled things so well, eventually

Of course, the wind died as soon as the rain started, so there was no reason to roll up the awnings, so we maybe could have sat there, but whatever. We had finished desert so we hung in the bar area settling the check and so on, and one of the many, many people who seem to lurk near the front desk (who all seem to have there act together) wandered by, slid me a business card and told me that I should try to get my next reservation -- should reservations remain scarce -- through the e-mail on the card rather than queuing with the proles. He then guided us to an empty table and forced a Sazerac on me. It was a truly impressive performance, not the least for the casual way in which the gentleman tossed it off -- no big deal, we just fuckin' take care of you here -- and greatly appreciated as a customer and a critic -- especially for a newish joint. And it -- unlike the somewhat humdrum cuisine -- makes me look forward to heading back.

Especially now that I have that secret rezzie e-mail.

Oh, yeah. A pretty decent, reasonably priced red Bandol, though I wouldn't go through that wine list looking for bargains.

it's a fun place, but let's be real.

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When someone at Le Diplomate (maybe Mr. Starr himself) said it will have the "best seafood plateau in the city," I was forced to visit. So I went there yesterday afternoon to watch Sergio Garcia implode (on my iPad, no TV in the restaurant) and munch on seafood. I started with the petit plateau ($60). There were oysters, king crab legs, dayboat scallops, mussels, clams, a snow crab cluster, shrimps, half a lobster, and whelks. I was duly impressed by the variety (too bad they didn't put razor clams on the petit plateau) but was not impressed with the preparation. Most of the cooked seafood were overcooked, including lobster, mussels, and shrimp. The crabs can generally withstand a little overcooking so they were fine. The best part were the raw seafood, namely clams, oysters and scallops. The plateau came with a mignonette, cocktail sauce, horseradish, and a sauce that's probably a mixture of ketchup and mayo.

I ate only 1 mussel, had a few shrimps, and left the lobster claw and knuckle. I did squeeze in an order of tete de cochon ($9), which consisted of mainly tongue, ear, skin, and fat. I enjoyed it knowing that I probably shouldn't eat something so visibly fatty.

I agree with Waitman that the place is fun (especially watching Garcia dump 2 balls in the water at Sawgrass #17) but the food isn't steller. Will post pics later.

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For your viewing pleasure, I present 3 views of the petit plateau. The stuff is already on ice, so taking a few pictures isn't going to make any difference.

In picture #1, we have oysters and shrimps in the foreground, leading to clams, scallops, the lobster and snow crab cluster.

In picture #2, we have mussels and whelks in the foreground, leading up to a better view of the lobster and snow crab cluster.

In picture #3, we have the king crab legs in the left foreground.

I was eating so healthily until the tete de cochon arrived. The white thin strips are the ear cartilage, the pink stuff is the tongue. The rest is fat and skin. The parsley and onions did a good job cutting through all that fat. I made little tartines with the wonderful baguette.

I might go back to Le Diplomate if Waitman gives me his secret connection.

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I was eating so healthily until the tete de cochon arrived. The white thin strips are the ear cartilage, the pink stuff is the tongue. The rest is fat and skin. The parsley and onions did a good job cutting through all that fat. I made little tartines with the wonderful baguette.

I might go back to Le Diplomate if Waitman gives me his secret connection.

Bob did the tete de cochon also; neither of us could discern the parts as you did, but what I tasted was good. I won't pretend that the food here is the best French cuisine you will ever experience, even here in DC; I could easily nitpick my meal. But so far they have down pat so many other elements that can make a restaurant memorable--good service, an atmosphere that can transport you elsewhere, and yeah, a joie de vivre (there, I said it) that helps you overlook flaws. But still, make no mistake--this is a solid, though not perfect, kitchen at work. Order with care, and you won't regret the money you spend.

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Was here last night with a friend from out of town, my second visit since the opening. Our orders were very simple -- onion soup, frisee salad, burger (for the kid). The salad made for a delicious meal -- duck confit instead of the more typical lardons, egg perfectly cooked. But we were really disappointed with the fries we ordered... Two orders at separate times of the night, both orders came out as cones of fried potato nubs that looked like they scraped the bottom of the barrel. :( On the upside, we had a very reasonably priced bottle of Ott rose and, as with my first experience, the service was absolutely impeccable.

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Here's how Todd Kliman put it in today's chat, which I think sums things up pretty well:

"Not much there that I would call great — the stupendous breads, the insanely eggy creme brulee, the tete de veau … A lot that I would call good. And almost nothing that I would call bad or mediocre. That last point is the most important point. This is a restaurant that is very engineered — from the atmospheric, stage-set space on down to the cuisine — and very, very smart."

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We had an early Sunday night dinner here recently after seeing a play at Studio and enjoyed ourselves. The place was already packed by 5 p.m. It is a really cool space with a nice patio too (we ate inside but with all the windows opened up to the patio it almost felt like outside). The food was good. Not particularly creative, but definitely satisfying. I really liked my roast chicken and our dessert--a decadent dark chocolate napoleon--was incredible. Another highlight is the bread basket, which everyone mentions, but I think it's pretty cool that they provide for free such a high-quality product when so many restaurants are charging for things like bread and chips-and-salsa. It's a nice gesture at the start of the meal. The only thing that wasn't really great was the steak frites, which was tasty but not very tender. Like many restaurants these days they're serving hanger steak, which is known for being tough (I'd love it if ribeye made a comeback as the steak of choice for restaurants that offer one steak option). Here's my write up I posted today on my blog.

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Here's how Todd Kliman put it in today's chat, which I think sums things up pretty well:

"This is a restaurant that is very engineered — from the atmospheric, stage-set space on down to the cuisine — and very, very smart."

It will be interesting to see if the neighborhood is trending toward this type of restaurant (I hope not), and if getting into my favorite restaurants (the not-so-engineered ones that have been around a few years) will become easier as places like Le Diplomate draw crowds (I hope so).

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It will be interesting to see if the neighborhood is trending toward this type of restaurant (I hope not), and if getting into my favorite restaurants (the not-so-engineered ones that have been around a few years) will become easier as places like Le Diplomate draw crowds (I hope so).

I don't know if you have Cork in mind specifically, but as an example it's definitely easier to get a table there than it used to be, and much much easier than some of the new hot spots.

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For my final course, I stayed with another small plate, and ordered the Mushroom Tart ($11.50), a quartered circle of pioppini mushrooms and truffled pecorino. As beautiful as this looked, there was a heaviness to it that I didn't care for. In particular, the crust had a shortbread-like aspect that (literally) weighed the dish down, and detracted from the toppings - you'd think that pioppini mushrooms and truffled pecorino could stand up to a heavier crust, but I think it will need to either lighten up, or become thinner, for this dish to survive the summer. I had met three charming gentlemen as I was dining, and shared this tart with them - one of them described the crust as being "pot-pie like," and that's exactly the texture it had (the difference being that a chicken pot pie soaks and moistens the crust; here, it remained dry and crumbly). I liked this dish well enough, but there's way, way too much else on this menu to try for me to order it again anytime soon.

I think they've changed the crust on the mushroom tart? It was a flaky puff pastry crust last night.

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I had lunch with friends yesterday and have to disagree with a few of the criticisms I have heard here and other places. My whole group found the room to be charming and everything we had was well prepared but devoid of fuss in traditional brasserie style. Also, I had never met or seen Celia Laurent-Ziebold in person before, only read about and seen pictures of her, but she was quite pleasant and tres sexy in the flesh :wub:

Steak Tartare de Parc was a lighter version than the tartares I enjoyed in Paris but this one was almost refreshing as an appetizer, as the wife and I split it and did not feel as if it made too large of a dent in our appetite for our mains.

My wife had the very straightforward Cheeseburger, which like most things here was nothing spectacular but very well prepared nonetheless down to the deliciously buttery brioche it sat atop. The fries it came with were surprising the low light of the meal, as they were a bit nubby and did not stand up at all when they got cold on the plate after a few minutes.

My Moules were probably my favorite item that I sampled at the meal, prepped very traditionally and without all the unnecessary additions you see at contemporary restaurants around the city. Very buttery with a nice touch of acid in the broth, which everyone at the table took to dipping their boring fries in to give them some life.

If you want to say this place is good, but not great, that's fine, you're probably right, but despite all of the fuss in the media and neighborhood about this opening, I will surely find myself back here in the very near future for some refreshingly unfussy brasserie fare.

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Dined here with another couple on a recent Monday night. Glad we had reservations! The best thing was the foie gras (mousse?) parfait starter with toast and a fennel-fruit jam that disappeared fast.+1 had the onion soup that came recommended but I wasn't blown away. My main was the duck, which I still dream about fondly, two weeks later. It was seared to order duck breast and a duck leg confit that delivered in a really big way. Others had the pea orzo with scallops which was strewn with pea shoots, the mussels (was there a strong hit of lemongrass?) and the lamb shank that came with couscous and fiery harissa. All were fine, and I noticed that the lamb was jealously guarded and not shared so it must've been especially good. I loved the bread (cranberry walnut especially), and the service was surprisingly good. A couple drinks were long in coming but the server was apologetic and attentive otherwise. Can't wait to go back for the raw bar and more duck!

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Almost everything that we ate here last night was good (fruits de mer petite plateau, tete de cochon, apple tarte tatin) to great (steak frites, veal escalope, crème brulee, bread basket) to exceptional (chocolate pot de crème). The only miss, in my mind, was the baba au rhum. I was also a bit dismayed that the sea scallops (four large scallops) were cut horizontally to make it look like there were more on the plate, but the person that ordered that dish said that they were not overcooked and very tasty. From a food perspective, it was pretty much spot on. I will also say that I liked the wines on the list, even if some were a bit pricey. I can't say that I liked my thimble sized sazerac, but the others seemed to like their cocktails.

The service ranged from knowledgeable to obnoxious to nice to overzealous (all in one waiter!). I would say that the service was about 50/50, but I was ultimately turned off when a bottle of wine that we ordered was out of stock and was then told that other comparable bottles in that price range included bottles that were $22, $25 and $31 more than what we ordered (I think that the second two numbers are right, but I am sure that the first one is). It only caused me to order a bottle that was less expensive than the one that I originally wanted. It sucks, but seems to be par for the course at many places these days.

I won't let the below average service deter me from coming back though, I will definitely come back for the food.

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Saturday brunch marked my first visit to LD with a party of 6, several of who are "professional brunchers" (with web sites devoted to the subject). Found the space to be airy and light filled. Though it's a pretty packed space, we didn't find it to be terribly loud, at least not at the table where we were sitting. We waited at the bar for a few minutes before we were seated and were told that full menu service is available there. When we left, there was a line out the door, but the bar still had plenty of seats. Reservations are pretty much mandatory if you want a table without a long wait.

As mentioned above, the bread basket is wonderful. They don't currently sell bread to take out, but I'm told that is on the horizon. The basket of breakfast pastries comes with six assorted sweet breads for $10. Sounds expensive, but the quality was amazing. A variety of normal brunch fare was ordered...eggs Benedict, poached eggs basque, croque-madame, egg white omelet and quiche Lorraine. The quiche was mile-high and declared delicious. Everyone else at the table had dish envy when it was served. The rest of the orders were generally described as "good" and "fine" Brunch entrees are generally served with either a small salad or potatoes. Consistent with the comments above, it appears quality of ingredients and execution is high, but there's nothing unusual or surprising here. Predictably solid isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially at brunch.

The other stand-out of our brunch was our server who's name I failed to get. He did a great job of keeping everyone's glasses full. Attentive, but not annoying, we never had to flag him down for more coffee, juice or water. He also suggested we order bottled sparkling wine and juice rather than individual mimosas to reduce our bill. At the end of the day, we all got out for tax and tip at around $45 per person.

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My father requested Le Diplomat after reading about the petit plat and we were happy to oblige. The petit plat pretty much sent Father's Day over the top for my dad and the other dad with us. There was enough for the five of us to share and not feel like we were missing out, with the except of the uni which the dads wouldn't share. I wasn't impressed with the lobster but the oysters, clams, and scallops were excellent. My only complaint is that there were too many muscles which weren't that great.

The tartar was as good as described above, although I could do without the extra punch of heat. The standout though, without a doubt, was the foie gras parfait. It needs to be served with a side of Lipitor but is worth every ridiculous, luscious bite. The five of us went through four bread baskets, the last two of baguette only.

The service was very impressive; there were at least four people who helped with our table more than once. It was packed for most of our time there but our water glasses were always full, requests filled quickly and the staff actually seemed to be enjoying themselves. This was the first time in a while that I remember a restaurant actually living up to the hype.

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It will be interesting to see if the neighborhood is trending toward this type of restaurant (I hope not), and if getting into my favorite restaurants (the not-so-engineered ones that have been around a few years) will become easier as places like Le Diplomate draw crowds (I hope so).

Completely agree with this. "Very engineered" is not what I want out of my restaurant experiences.

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Completely agree with this. "Very engineered" is not what I want out of my restaurant experiences.

While I get the concern, I think that the term "engineered" perhaps does Le Diplomate a disservice, as it suggests that it is providing an utterly slick, anodyne dining experience, or not putting out substantive food, which is by no means the case. What one might hope is that the most positive dimensions of this "engineering"--strong staff training and attention to detail--could spill over into more establishments.

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My wife took me here for Father's Day. I don't have too many comments on the meal except to say that I also found the steak tartar to be surprisingly (and kind of unpleasantly) spicy. It didn't work with my wine, and I wanted to drink while I ate it. And, neither the tartar nor my mussels compared favorably to the two things I'd ordered on previous visits--the mushroom tart and the very nice (if not generous) cheese plate.

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While I get the concern, I think that the term "engineered" perhaps does Le Diplomate a disservice, as it suggests that it is providing an utterly slick, anodyne dining experience, or not putting out substantive food, which is by no means the case. What one might hope is that the most positive dimensions of this "engineering"--strong staff training and attention to detail--could spill over into more establishments.

Thanks for posting this; you've changed my mind about wanting to try the place.

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I find Le Diplomate to be très magnifique. My one caveat is about the noise. It is part of the ambiance and the inescapable result of the restaurant’s success. A few favorites here:

I think the onion soup is perfection in a bowl. The rich broth is laced through with onions, but my heart belongs to the thick crusty cheese oozing off the side of the bowl. I had the Saturday special- entrecôte de boeuf accompanied by a simple salad and a popover, for $38. I think it’s a reasonable deal, considering it is a hefty piece of meat and includes accompaniments. The popover doesn’t blow me away, but the meat is tender and juicy. I also loved the bread basket.

I don't go out to brunch very often but Le Diplomate is on my short list.

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we went saturday night - the joint was hopping but we secured a patio table after about an hour wait (wasn't a problem - we grabbed drinks at Estadio) - very impressed overall - great food, service

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Not a great experience tonight.

1) The kitchen staff must be half the size of the waitstaff given how long it takes for a dish to come out. The last time I was there it was packed so the wait for the food was understandable. But tonight the place was half full so the wait was unacceptable. The bartender apologized more than once because it took so long for my tartar to arrive. (No, I didn't time it. Who expects their meal to take so long?)

2) Why the hell is the tartar so spicy? I had to send my first one back because it was too spicy. A good tartar is a balance of flavors. Both versions I had tonight were overshadowed by the heat. At first taste, it is wonderful and the quality of the beef comes through. But seconds later the heat hits, killing everything that was there before.

To his credit, the bartender comped the meal, so it wasn't a total lost. And damn, that bread. But there is good bread in my future so I don't need to rush back.

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We had a pretty disappointing meal at Le Diplomate last night. I'm sure it's tough being as popular as they are and I still thought they delivered reasonable value, but the flaws were far too many for somewhere that Sietsema granted 3 stars.

First, we weren't seated until 30 minutes after our reservation. I gather they're popular, can't remove people from tables, and probably have a lot of customers who don't care about this sort of thing, but we did. And, there wasn't so much as a sheepish apology. I didn't expect a round of drinks, but some sense that they actually wanted us to stay and enjoy ourselves or cared about our time (and running babysitting tab) would have been welcome.

Second, the food and service were both good, but not great. Our server was clearly new, and they were obviously busy, but there were a few notable flaws. I asked for the $27 bottle of rose that Sietsema recommended, but instead was served a different $40 bottle. The wait for our food suggested as HillValley inferred that the restaurant is too big for its kitchen. Finally, while I don't expect the server to have tried every dish on the menu, I do expect their staff to be able to tell me what it means that the Veal is "Escalope" or to at least endeavor to find out.

Finally, the noise level was borderline unbearable and is probably what will keep us away until it is addressed. I realize folks have different impression of what is a lively atmosphere and what is too loud to hear, but we literally had trouble hearing each other even when leaning over the table towards one another. It's wonderful that they spent so much money creating a gorgeous restaurant, but I really hope for their sake that they will invest in some sound buffering. I don't think we'll go back until they do. Until then, I'm with Kliman's wife and am more likely to hit the less exotic Le Grenier.

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