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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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Normally I would defer to your vastly greater wisdom on this subject, but a 5-year-old Beaujolais?  Sounds flat and musty to me.  And I'm speaking from experience (Schneider's -- I'll never forget!).

My 2009 Beaujolais (an unusually cellar-worthy vintage, admittedly) are still going strong and, indeed, could even use some more time.

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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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Normally I would defer to your vastly greater wisdom on this subject, but a 5-year-old Beaujolais?  Sounds flat and musty to me.  And I'm speaking from experience (Schneider's -- I'll never forget!).

There's a big difference between Beaujolais-Nouveau (which is meant to be drunk upon release) and Beaujolais-Villages (which is one of several villages, like Morgon, Moulin-a-Vent, Fleurie, etc.) - the latter can age and improve for 5-10 years in the bottle.

I detest Beaujolais-Nouveau, and think it smells like bubble gum.

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There's a big difference between Beaujolais-Nouveau (which is meant to be drunk upon release) and Beaujolais-Villages (which is one of several villages, like Morgon, Moulin-a-Vent, Fleurie, etc.) - the latter can age and improve for 5-10 years in the bottle.

I detest Beaujolais-Nouveau, and think it smells like bubble gum.

It was a village Beaujolais that turned me against the aged ones.  I know some of the top producers are alleged to age well, but more than 2-3 years for a mid-level Morgon makes me nervous.

I like Beaujolais Nouveau.  But I like bubble gum, too.

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It was a village Beaujolais that turned me against the aged ones.  I know some of the top producers are alleged to age well, but more than 2-3 years for a mid-level Morgon makes me nervous.

I like Beaujolais Nouveau.  But I like bubble gum, too.

Yeah, I kind of figured you knew the difference.

You need to go for importers: Elite Wines, Wine Traditions, and Potomac Selections have rarely let me down. I buy them without even knowing the producer - if I'm browsing in a retail store, I rotate all the bottles around to the back until I find one by them, and then buy it. I understand that doesn't help in this situation, but in others it does, and if you get ambitious, you can go to their respective websites and memorize their portfolios.

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Was reading through this thread today and was bummed to see the lukewarm reception. Not sure why I was bummed -- logically it makes no difference to me but I guess I'm a big baby who can't handle dissenting opinions. I'm a bit of a latecomer to this place, as much as one can be a latecomer to a joint that's been open for all of 2 years, having first visited last year when Michael Abt had already taken over the kitchen. Honestly I pretty much fell in love with the place as soon as I walked in. Yes, the interior is basically a Disneyland idealized version of a parisian bistro, but can any of you say with a straight face that you don't like Disneyland? Everyone loves Disneyland. My best friend proposed to his wife at Disneyland. Then again, I've heard of people getting married at Walmart and most recently, GameStop. So maybe my point falls flat. Ahem. Anyway.

The several times I've been here, I've ordered the Veal Escalope, the Dorade Royale (a Monday special), the NY strip au poivre, the roasted duck breast and the lobster risotto. Every dish I've tried here has been fabulous, my two favorites being the duck breast and the lobster risotto. The risotto, especially, haunts my dreams. If I think back really hard, I can almost taste it, it left such a strong impression. Until I had it, my previous impression of lobster sauces was that they were mostly uniformly overly heavy and rich -- the kind of dish that upon first bite makes you think "this is the best thing I've ever eaten," because the initial taste is so rich. Past lobster sauces for me have never revealed depth of flavor, just pure richness, which means that by the end of your meal, the act of eating has become tedious and forced. Later you throw up into a bin because you ate far more than your body could handle, tricked by that initial bite.

That wasn't the case with this risotto. It was so light, the lobster fresh and bountiful, adorned with a smattering amount of green peas and other assorted leafy greens. My portion was large but the risotto had an addictive quality that kept me eating until I cleared the plate. There were a multitude of different flavor profiles, which I chalked up to the peas and vegetables, which, rather than being simple add-ins, felt like inseparable parts of the dish. Too often I eat meals at restaurants at which the "extras," feel like just that: extras. There to add some needed contrasting flavors but would make little difference if you picked them off your plate and placed them on the side. To do that to this lobster risotto, I felt, would be unmaking the dish.

I also really like their macaroni and cheese. My first time, I got tricked by its placement on the menu. I was expecting something much smaller but it's easily big enough to be an entree. Now that I know, I like to order it at the end and have them put it in a doggy bag so I can have it for lunch the next day. It reheats perfectly fine in the oven, I've found, even retaining its crunchy top layer.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the outstanding service -- easily the best I've had at any restaurant in my life. And yes, I've been to a few, including a fair share of Michelin-starred ones. Here's how your service gets a gold star from me: If you can keep my 62-year old mom engaged in a conversation about U.S. foreign policy in the middle east and actually manage to keep up with her yourself, (my mom lived in the middle east for half her adult life and worked as a journalist in the region, often angering the local governments) then you get my business. Because I have never been able to pull that off in my life and seeing her clearly so entertained is worth the price of admission.

(This was my first ever visit and our waiter, who turned out to be the new manager in training, gave us his card and told me "call any time your mom's in town, and I'll set you guys up with a table.")

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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 higher-end restaurant that have sprouted in 14UP over the years.

The bread, ah, the bread - it's so good, so authentically good, and so's the butter - creamy, yes, but perfectly salted (creamy butter without salt, hell, *any* butter without salt) is like drinking a glass of pasteurized milk, but with just a crystal or two, good butter becomes great butter, and so it is with Le Diplomate: What a *fine* calling card this bread and butter before the meal is, and what a luxury this heretofore expectation has turned out to be. Honestly, I'd like to take this moment to *thank* Le Diplomate for offering such excellent bread and butter, gratis, to their diners. It's a shame our culinary world has gotten to that point, but it has, and I'm grateful to the torchbearers of tradition and excellence in dining, this bread and butter course being representative of that.

And if you think *that* was overkill, you ought to see me when I find a quarter on the sidewalk!

I wanted to relax before dining, and asked for a Gin and Tonic ($10) with plain old Bombay. No Sapphire for me; plain old Bombay is just fine as a mellow, neutral, everyday gin - the scary thing being that if you look up Bombay Gin on the web, nearly all you see are webpages for Sapphire. This is what you get when you search the web for "Bombay gin website":

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Unfortunately, the G&T (which I actually got before the bread came out because I hadn't ordered yet) was ten-dollars worth of awful. It was made right in front of me, and hurt to watch: the glass was absolutely filled with ice, to the point where the bartender had to scrape some off the top. Then the tiniest of pours (C'mon guys! This is Bombay; not Louis XIII!) followed by ... (bartenders know what's coming next) ... "the squirt gun." It was as if a loony tune spray-shot my liquid relaxation, murdering my simple little cocktail. Ten dollars for this non-drink was just silly - please learn to make a Gin and Tonic, and at these prices, please dispense with the squirt gun.

It had been the better part of year since I'd been here, so I decided for a smattering of small plates rather than one of their tempting nightly specials. I began my meal with Pea Soup ($13), not even knowing whether it would be hot or cold when I ordered it, and not really caring - either way was fine; as it turns out, I was delighted with what was placed in front of me: a white bowl, with a little crab meat, some peas (if I recall), and a crescent of crème fraí®che sitting in the center, awaiting the pour-over. I adore pour-over soups - they add a touch of class to the simplest of meals. The liquid was a pleasantly hot pea purée, and my only regret was one which you also have, but you'll never admit to having: pea broth tends to cling to the side of the pitcher from which its poured (peas being somewhat granular on the inside, thus forming micro-lumps when puréed, and leaving trace amounts in their serving vessel). You know you want every single drop of this broth just as much as I do, and you're miffed when you don't get it. Admit it! And what a fine soup it was, too - when that bowl went back to the kitchen, it probably confused the living daylights out of them, because, thanks to that delicious bread, it was swabbed cleaner than a sailor's bathroom floor with a toothbrush.

After this soup, a piece of bread or two, a little butter, and a G&T, I was in such a happy place. Sure, I was still hungry, but that had taken the edge off, and I knew more was coming - in fact, I knew *two* more things were coming, so I ordered a Half Carafe of House White Wine ($16) - a La Vielle Ferme Luberon Blanc (a blend of Bourboulenc, Grenache Blanc, Ugni Blanc, and Vermentino) poured from magnum into what was probably a 10-12 ounce carafe (I should have peaked, but I didn't - figure two small, modest, glasses-worth). La Vielle Ferme is the mass-market wine controlled by the Perrin empire - the folks that own Cháteau de Beaucastel - so while you're not going to be getting anything memorable, you'll be getting something safe, palatable, and food-friendly. This is a good house wine to have because it's not expensive at all, but is in balance and "correct," so diners will tend not to balk at a healthy mark-up. This is wine to drink, and not to savor, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Next came my Roasted Beets ($13.50) with Cloumage cheese (don't feel bad - I had to look it up too), hazelnuts, and ice wine vinaigrette. This was a Salad, not an Appetizer, and was presented as such - in retrospect, I would have asked for it pre-soup, but this is of almost no importance. It was attractively plated, pleasant, and held no surprises - just what I wanted - and it went beautifully with the wine, too. My hunger was dissipating, and I was eating extremely healthy food.

So of course I had to do something about that and ordered the Fromage de Tète ($12). Let me tell you something: this was served with marinated chanterelles, apple, and máche, but ignore all that - if you order this, you're getting head cheese, and a version that takes brass doo-dads to serve in a restaurant such as this - this was real, honest-to-goodness, walk-into-a-delicatessen-in-Germany, gelatinous, piecemeal, unidentifiable, pig-ear, jowl-ridden, snout-filled *head cheese*, and you had better *really* be in the mood for it because this is for adventurous diners; not people out for a medium-well steak-frites at a safe little neighborhood Brasserie. Kudos to Le Diplomate for having this on their menu - this was the real McCoy, and it makes me wonder if I'm underestimating the dining public, or if timid patrons will force this recipe to change. Let us hope it remains as-is, because this is a conversation piece of peasant filler.

The price of my dinner snuck up on me - with tax and tip, it was $84 for 3 appetizers and drinks - and it made me realize that, man, this place isn't cheap; yet it's *always* crowded. This was a very good dinner, and Le Diplomate rests comfortably in Italic, and even snuck up a couple of slots in the 14UP Dining Guide. Well done, Starr Restaurants - I hope you're investing your money wisely.

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I heart the pea soup at Le Diplomate. Last time I was there, I ordered the soup with a friend, and we were raving about it for the entire meal. When's the last time that has happened...two grown men waxing elegiac about pea soup?

I remember it having a citric element to gift it lift and brightness. Maybe lemon? Complemented the crab perfectly, tying all the elements of the soup together, and made it so different from your typical dense, traditional pea soup.

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My wife loves Le Diplomate, so for our "family" celebration of her birthday, we packed up the boys and headed out for an earlyish dinner.  When I say my wife "loves" Le Dip, I mean that she (and I) love the consistency.  It's like that kid's book "Bread and Jam for Frances."  When we go to Le Dip, we know just what we're getting, and we're always pleased.  And even then, it's not that we order the same things each time...in fact, I don't know that we've ever repeated an order over 4 or 5 visits.  Rather, if you go to Le Diplomate at times that you really want to eat basic, well-executed French bistro fare, and feel like you've stepped outside of the District for an hour or so, you will not be disappointed.  If you go expecting some elevated dining experience amongst the scenesters, your mileage may vary.

My cocktail of Armagnac and vermouth with bitters (Americain a Paris) couldn't hit my lips fast enough, and did a nice job of dulling the sharp edges of the workday.  The bread basket was all that it normally is and we had to physically restrain our 3 year old from downing the whole thing while he drank his cocktail (cranberry juice on the rocks in a sippy cup).

The pea soup is the same as Don described upthread, and remains delicious.  My wife's Salade Lyonnaise was a mostly faithful rendition save for subbing cubes of potato in for croutons.  The boy wolfed down nearly the entire cast-iron pan of macaroni au gratin.  The bites I had made me jealous the whole dish wasn't mine.  It might feel strange to order this dish if you don't have a toddler in tow, but really, don't think twice.  Rich but with just the right amount of salt to cut through the cream and gruyere.

Cristina's scallops Nicosia were simple but tasty.  Perfectly seared, medium rare center.  This is not a dish designed to push boundaries, but it hit all the marks it aimed for and made her very, very happy.  I initially ordered the Burger Americain, but changed my mind as the waiter walked away and ended up with a simple steak frites.  Cooked to a picture perfect medium rare, and slathered in herb butter, this was exactly what I needed after a shit, shit, shit day.  The glass of Crozes-Hermitage the waiter suggested wasn't quite up to the task of meeting the robust flavor of the hanger steak, but was fine.

The threenager demanded we share a dessert, but before we could order the creme brí»lée, a plate with tiny, one-bite cherry clafoutis arrived with a candle for the wife...I had forgotten that I mentioned the birthday when I made the reservation.  Thoughtful, delicious, but not enough to deter us from the creme.  I could go full dad-mode here and post the adorable pictures of my son really getting into his first creme brí»lée, but I'll spare you.  I'm not a big dessert person, but this was nice and rich, with a near-perfect madeleine on the side (almost crunchy exterior giving way to a soft spongy inside).  All enjoyed with a shared glass of Banyuls.

Service has always been a high point, and tonight was no exception.  We have always been, and will continue to be those people who dine out with young children.  Ours are well-behaved (thankfully), but kudos to the staff for not batting an eye, and treating my son like a real human and letting him order for himself.

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Really interesting. It seems like the narrative reviews that almost everyone loves this place, but there seems to be something holding people back from exuberantly saying they love it. Is it because it's not really local? Is it because of the faux Paris bistro that they created from a blueprint? It's funny, if you just read most of the reviews without the reservations people seem to have, it would seem to be one of the most beloved places in the city.

I've been for brunch. It was good and real sceney. The pastry thing wasn't as great as I'd heard. The omelette was good, but it was an omelette. I don't get French food, anyway, dinner here would be wasted on me.

EDIT: re-read more of the posts. I guess it's loved and hated...

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It's been awhile, but I finally made it to Le Diplomate Thursday evening.  Started birthday week (we string a few in a row in our house) a weekend early with Komi and Bindaas (thoughts to come), so thought Le Diplomate might be a good closing event.  Overall, the place didn't disappoint.  Reminded me of Artisinal (pre-going down the toilet) in terms of volume and atmosphere.  What I found most impressive was that Le Diplomate was able to produce the quality it did when the place was jam-packed at 9 pm with people still waiting in line.

Started the meal with the fois gras parfait.  A very good call, if I do say so.  Came with brioche (we asked for more) and was shared between two of us.  It's hard to go wrong with fois gras, but this was really quite right.

Entrees were the trout almandine and the Bouef Bourgignon.  The former was probably the better of the two dishes.  Just classic trout and green beans, but the sauce just took it to another level.  Very good bistro fare.  The Bouef was good as well.  Could have used quite a bit more sauce, but the whipped potatoes made up for any shortcomings.  Skipped desert as it was the end of a very long week of eating and drinking too much.

Speaking of which, we had the La Moussière rose Sancerre.  Trying to find something that worked across those three dishes challenged my limited Old World knowledge.  This one worked, though, so was relatively happy with the choice.

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We were craving a classic (and unpretentious) brunch recently and decided to give Le Diplomate a try. It did not disappoint. No bottomless mimosas, just unbelievably good french pastries. Nothing innovative, just perfectly cooked eggs, with perfectly cooked hollandaise. We had eggs norwegian and duck sarladaises along with the pastries. Everything was simple, but perfect -- often the hardest thing to do. It was too much food, but they gladly wrapped up the extra pastries for us (even the jam too), a bonus treat the next morning.

The staff was attentive and friendly, very good service. I can't speak for lunch or dinner, but we'll gladly return for brunch.

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On 7/18/2017 at 11:43 PM, DonRocks said:

The prix fixe menu looks really nice:Screenshot 2017-07-18 at 11.42.08 PM.png

Dovetail has had one Michelin Star since 2011.

I love that you're such an open-minded diner.

In the Manhattan Dining Guide, note Café Luxembourg on the map - it's a nice place (something like Le Diplomate) to go for lunch or weekend brunch.

We still have not gotten to Le Diplomate - every time we think of going there, it is more spur of the moment and we can't get a reasonable ressie (and I hate waiting). We'll get there someday. It looks like a nice little place - the fact that they have The Scofflaw and The Last Word on their cocktail menu alone makes me take notice (not that they are new drinks, but that they chose to include them on their list).

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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 place is still packed but for good reason - great quality food, service, and huge portions.  I was lucky and noticed a last minute opening for a reservation for an early dinner and we jumped on it and rushed over. Really excellent experience. The staff was very friendly and nice to our 2 young kids.  Cocktails were good but leaned toward more classic then innovative. I had their riff on a French 75 and my wife had the vodka based one - hers was better. The bread basket is still really great - I loved that nut and cranberry bread. The good bread continued with a really nice cheese course appetizer - the goat with the spiced honey and marcona almonds went especially well with the blueberry nut toasts that came with it. The applesauce like spread in the middle of the cheese plate was ok but all 3 cheeses we had were very nice.  The kids shared the half roasted chicken which is not only cooked nicely with moist meat and crisp skin but has a really flavorful pan sauce (went great with fries dipped in it). We subbed the mash potatoes that come with it for the excellent haricot vertes coated in butter. Perfectly crisp flavorful beans indulgent with butter - hmmm. My wife's main was the huge steak frite. The steak was charred nicely and cooked to a perfect medium rare. She really enjoyed it. It comes with a whole huge plate of fries enough for 4 people.  I opted for 2 appetizers for my entree which was completely over-ordering. The apps are really large and depending on which one you get, 1 could be an entree. My luck - I ordered 2 large ones. The salt cod brandade whipped with mashed potatoes and served warm in a skillet with a baguette was very good. I saved the best for last and really loved the mushroom tart. It is basically a mini-pizza but on flaky tart crust spread with truffles, topped with small rustic mushrooms and heavily sprinkled with cheese. It was divine. I could eat this once a week.  We were stuffed and skipped dessert but it was tempting. It was a pretty reasonable price too since I had the most amazing leftover lunch of the second half of my 2 apps the next day.  So if you haven't been or haven't been in a while and like French bistro - head back again soon.  The only word of caution is be prepared to have an awkward conversation with your kids when they see the naked lady photos in the bathroom.

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I sauntered into Le Dip around 1:30 Saturday afternoon.  I didn't have a reservation so I was hoping for a seat at the bar.  Alas, all the seats at the main bar were taken.  Thus I shimmied through the restaurant to the back bar, with only 2 stools and a small ledge.  Fortunately no one else was sitting there and I had the ledge all to myself.  And I needed every square inch of it for the small tower that I was intent on devouring, and the champagne and beer that I was going suck down.

Twas a pretty tower.

a.  Half a lobster  b. 1 sheared king crab leg  c.  half a snow crab  d.  3 whelks  e.  a bunch of deveined shrimp (maybe 8-10)  f.  a bunch of mussels  g.  a bunch of raw clams  h.  3 different types of oysters  i.  a bowl of salmon tartare  j.  some kind of crudo in a sweet brown sauce   k.  a bowl of lump crab meat with Louie dressing

The quality of seafood was pristine but it's the variety that makes this the top seafood tower in the metro area.  But I didn't really care for the salmon or the crudo because of their dressing.  

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I ate maybe just over half the tower.  I didn’t eat any mussels, I didn’t eat the lobster claw, I left half the shrimp, ate less than half of the crude and tartare, didn’t finish all the oysters.  I think the tower got bigger or maybe they recognized me as a food blogger extraordinaire.

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On 12/1/2018 at 6:58 PM, DonRocks said:

PS - The Baguette Provençale is as bad as any sandwich I've had at any restaurant for a long, long time. It's gloppy, disgusting, and the Camembert was ammoniated. Le Diplomate should be ashamed of itself for serving food as inedible as this. Gotten to go and thrown in the trash.

Because nothing evokes the sun-drenched fields of lavender and olive groves undulating into the Mediterranean like Camembert cheese.

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19 minutes ago, Poivrot Farci said:

Because nothing evokes the sun-drenched fields of lavender and olive groves undulating into the Mediterranean like Camembert cheese.

This restaurant is printing money. On Sunday at around 4 PM, it was almost at capacity.

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On 12/2/2018 at 8:42 PM, DonRocks said:

This restaurant is printing money. On Sunday at around 4 PM, it was almost at capacity.

Good for them.  They should buy a cheese map and if they have any money left go to what they believe to be Provence and see the limited selection of cheeses there which are objectively not Camembert.  When I dramatically pour cider into a champagne flute I call it "Arc de Triomphe" because who cares about food integrity these days. 

 

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While the wife was at the salon, the boy and I headed over here for lunch right around noon. We snagged a two-seater outside on the 14th street side right away, which was a nice surprise. The boy got bacon and french fries (father of the year, here!), while I got the Burger. Everything was quite good. The burger was actually two thin patties, topped with pickles, onions and a house sauce that was pretty tasty. Since it's 2 thin patties, they come medium to med-well, but that didn't bother me. The fries were top notch. A good bread basket with butter also kept the boy happy. Good service, too, for a lazy brunch of people watching and wife-waiting.

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Snagged a 10:15 a.m. reservation for Saturday's brunch for me and the kids.  We ordered the foie gras parfait, mac 'n cheese, and french onion soup to start.  A little later, I added an order of mussels and a side of boudin.  Shortly after the first 3 dishes arrived, the mussels and boudin were also brought to the table.  At this point, there were 5 plates on the table, and barely anything has been eaten.  I was visibly annoyed so the server automatically said they shouldn't have delivered the mussels and the boudin and offered to bring them out later.  The manager also came out to apologize.  The food wasn't perfect but you can overlook that a little bit when the service is really tuned in.

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We had takeout from here today. Gougere. Foie Gras parfait. He had trout. I had chicken milanese. We had potato puree. We split Creme Brûlée and Pots de Creme. So good. It's been a while since I had more than the basic happy hour stuff there. It was nice.

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