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Le DeSales, French Brasserie in the Former Panache Space on DeSales Street - Chef Raphael Francois Departs for California


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Celebrated @MichaelBDC's birthday with some friends at Le DeSales a few weeks ago. We had a reservation on the early side (6:30pm), which worked out well given our leisurely pace. Except for two hiccups, service was attentive and our water glasses were always full. 

Our party of four started with a bottle of Zinfandel and a mocktail for one member of our party who is nine months pregnant. We also ordered a platter of charcuterie and cheese to share: jambon cru, duck proscuitto, comte, parmigiano reggiano, and prefere des montagnes. This was a decent board of meats and cheeses, but nothing was particularly interesting or unique. The first service hiccup occurred when we wanted to ensure that the cheeses on the menu were pasteurized. The server said she would ask the kitchen but thought they were all pasteurized. When she came back to take our order, we realized she hadn't checked as she had already told us that she "thought" all the cheese were pasteurized. So we had to insist she go back and check with the kitchen. Turns out all the cheeses were pasteurized, but it was a frustrating back and forth. We ended up finishing the bottle of wine relatively quickly and ordered a second bottle, a Mourvedre from France.

For our entrees, we wanted to share the other dishes - a mix of appetizer and entree sized plates as well as sides  which the restaurant accommodated, but left for a very full table. We ended up ordering: beets with avocado, miso and quinoa; duck egg with paprika potatoes, soup de pain, and watercress; pork loin with carrots and preserved lemon; cod with turnip and clams pesto; bass with cranberries, cashews, celeriac, and chive oil; broccoli with peanuts and mustard; grilled leeks with sunflower seeds and buttermilk; and the fries. Highlights for me were the duck egg dish, the beets (not super interesting but well executed and loved the crunch of the quinoa), and the broccoli (an odd combination but successfully executed and very tasty). The cod, pork loin, and leeks were well executed but not particularly memorable. I passed on the bass and the fries so I can't comment. 

For dessert we had the deconstructed cheesecake, chocolate tarte, and creme brulee. Again, well prepared and satisfying, but not outstanding. The GM/owner also brought out four glasses of champagne for us. Not sure why we were on the receiving end of such generosity but we appreciated it. By the time we were done, the restaurant was packed and it took us awhile to flag down our server and get our check. 

Overall, I was pretty impressed with Le DeSales. Food was well executed and some dishes were really interesting and outstanding. Glad to have more French options to choose from.

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Seeing that there is only one post here, I'm guessing that maybe there wasn't a whole lot of interest in this restaurant. But in the event that anyone was looking to make a visit soon, particularly to see what Raphael Francois' cuisine was all about, it looks like he is leaving for LA just as soon as he's arrived in DC:

Eater LA: Bill Chait Blazes LA Comeback Trail With New West Hollywood Restaurant

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42 minutes ago, CapitalGourmand said:

Seeing that there is only one post here, I'm guessing that maybe there wasn't a whole lot of interest in this restaurant. But in the event that anyone was looking to make a visit soon, particularly to see what Raphael Francois' cuisine was all about, it looks like his leaving for LA just as soon as he's arrived in DC:

Eater LA: Bill Chait Blazes LA Comeback Trail With New West Hollywood Restaurant

Well that sucks.  I was looking forward to see what Raphael would do for the fall menu

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I can understand how *I* completely missed the news of Le DeSales opening in DC a scant three months ago, but...how did we as a group manage but one description and no discussion of a two-Michelin-starred chef coming to DC from Le Cirque ex-Hélène Darroze at the Connaught?  The latter gets grief for not having much changed its menu lately, but Francois earned them two stars, and my meal there in January was excellent.

Were we all distracted by the excitements of Sfoglina and Mirabelle?  I know that I was.

And now he's already gone.  Dang it.  :/

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I would like to add a note of confusion. I was informed of this restaurant TODAY. But here's the thing: I work in the neighborhood; maybe 2 blocks away. I don't think there has been advertisement or direct marketing, or even sign on Ct or 17th. Or maybe the people at Edgar keep stealing it. I hear it is very good, very nice, and conducive to an actual conversation.

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Oh My Yum.

Lettuce Starter: Perfect medium-hard egg on top of crispy lettuce. Dressed perfectly well.

Cod Main: Just right wild rice, cod, lightly steamed broccoli and cauliflower. Some sort of lemon-y sauce. 

Included: Light sauvignon blanc 

$27. Was louder than expected and completely packed. People were turned away. 

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