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Cafe du Parc, in the Willard Hotel - Chef Serge Devesa from Marseilles In Charge of Willard's French-American Cafe


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How Many more "french" bistro's do we need in this city? Beck is opening in a few months as well. Washington is known as a steak town, now we are becoming a bistro city, which is just as boring.

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Do yourself a favor and buy Patricia Wells' book Bistro Cooking, then get back to to us on the "boring" thing. :blink:

Actually, I cook alot from Thomas Keller's Bouchon cookbook, and I have been to a few bistro's in Paris so I know that bistro food is not all boring. I was saying that it would be boring for DC to become known as a city of bistro's. Also, I am not inclined to spend alot of money at places that serve the kind of food that I can cook at home.

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Westermann's three star is in Strasbourg and he's had the stars for about 15 years although I think his son runs it now. It's truly outstanding. While this will have little in common my expectation is that associating his name with this is similar to Bouchon from Keller or Central from Michel: I would expect quite a bit from this little "bistro." The location in the Willard is quite interesting, also.

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Their blue foot chicken is an American version of the bird. I think I saw it served once before at a restaurant here, but it was a special, and for the life of me, I can't remember the restaurant.

ETA: It may be a first as I remember where I saw it was New York and not DC!

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Westermann was also the consulting chef for Cafe 15.

Blue Foot Chickens.
Traditionally, and by law, Brillat-Savarin's preferred Gallic gallus must spend ¾ of its life in free range -minimum 10 square meters per creature, consume a 90% wheat/corn diet and bear the characteristic French tricolore: Blue-tinted feet, White feather, Red cockscombs. Within the species are 4 racial nuances determined by plumage: white (Blanche de Bény), black (Noire de Louhans), grey (Grise de Bourg, and blue (Bleue de Bresse). White dominates French markets with the best alleged ratio of taste to ease of raising and the blue has all but disappeared. Purist can identify the veritable White Volaille de Bresse as having entirely black/brown eyes void of any yellow or white. To prevent squabbles between roosters, flocks are kept small (producers hatch a slight average of 4200 chicks annually) which reduces risks of illness and eliminaties the need for antibiotics. Bresse poultry's prosperous yield of fattier meat, tenderness and "sapidity" can be traced back to a 16th century Municipal register from Bourg-en-Bresse noting: "...the people were, that day, so happy of the departure of the Alpine Roman troops that, in recognition of the Marquis de Treffort, the council voted that he shall be presented two dozen fattened capons..."

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So, the wife and I decided to give Cafe du Parc a try tonight. I found it found pretty amusing that every person I spoke with tonight was a recent transplant from France (no more than two months in the States) , the hostess, waiter and bartender. I was told, that the entire kitchen staff is from France as well. I must say, that this place is pretty good. It may be closet thing we have in DC to an actual French Bistro, well except for the service being really good. I was even offered coffee after dessert.

Anyways, we started with the Terrine de pot-au-feu,which was short ribs and beef shoulder with carrots and leeks in the center, shaped into a terrine, served cold with very good toasted bread. The 24 hour PORK sous-vide came to the table with crispy skin and moist meat. You are offered a choice of any side item with your entree, I would recommend the potatoes with onions and chicken broth (it was like a very good au gratin without the fat)or the leek puree. My wife ordered the very good monkfish tail with pinot noir sauce, the leeks were the recommended side item.

I don't know much about wine but the one page list offers at least 10 bottles for $30. I guess I was wrong; there is room for one more good bistro. This place does not have the buzz that Central is getting right now, but I think the food I had tonight was just as good.

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Actually, I cook alot from Thomas Keller's Bouchon cookbook, and I have been to a few bistro's in Paris so I know that bistro food is not all boring. I was saying that it would be boring for DC to become known as a city of bistro's. Also, I am not inclined to spend alot of money at places that serve the kind of food that I can cook at home.

well,

While Dc may be overun with bistros this must have the best food of them all. This is first rate food without the lousy American influence. I ate there and every item was perfect. I was amazed by the perfect simplicity. As a chef who eats out with every opportunity I must suggest that everyone here tries this new place.

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My wife and I ate at Cafe du Parc on Friday night and had a generally good experience. In short, the food was very good, and the service was extremely friendly, though there were a number of problems. What you might expect from a restaurant feeling their way through things upon first opening (though worse than what we experienced at Central when it first opened). I would definitely return, and I'm glad to see a top-notch restaurant in that space in the Willard.

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I ate there this weekend. They are definitely still working out the service kinks, but did not lack for friendliness or enthusiasm. The food was mostly great. I would return for the pate alone. Monkfish was ok, but its accompanying red wine sauce was outstanding. My SO enjoyed the pike dumplings, but they weren't my cup of tea. Desserts were straitforward and really tasty. The wine list is relatively affordable and we enjoyed a $40 bottle of Saint Veran with our meal.

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We ate at Cafe du Parc this weekend as well. We were able to walk in around 8:15 on friday night with about a 20 minute wait. The service was excellent, and extremely enthusiastic. My wife had the pate, which she thought was excellent, while I had the onion soup, which was solid and comforting. We decided to share a special - a whole John Dory. The fish was roasted and presented in an iron skillet atop a bed of herbs, haricot verts, garlic, and calamari. The fish was excellent - perfectly cooked and moist. We ended the meal with profiteroles, which were just ok - the ice cream was really nothing special. All in all, we had a wonderful meal, and look forward to going back. Hopefully it'll be a bit more crowded the next time around, though.

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Would the average consumer know or even care about this?
I suppose not, but how many "average consumers" do you think Cafe du Parc, or other restaurants of its ilk attract? I would wager that the typical consumer of CdP (or Corduroy, or Eve, or any number of board favorites) are infinitely more likely to know and care about "this".
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Would the average consumer know or even care about this?
I feel a thread split coming on...

I guess it all depends on what you mean by "average".

The person grabbing a magnum of Yellowtail Shiraz at the local mega mart? Probably not and probably not.

To a lot of the people on this board who like good wine. Yes and a great deal.

I'm not a complete wine geek like jparrott or our beloved moderator or any number of other people on this board whose wine knowledge makes me look like a simpleton, but I know what I like (syrah and grenache based wines from the South of France) and I drink a lot of it. Almost all of it under $20 a bottle. For my preferences and palate 2003 was almost a complete train wreck. They have a fair amount of Rhones on this wine list. I'd like to check this place out and you can be damn sure that I'll check on the vintage before I order a glass or a bottle of wine.

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2003 was a summer of record heat in much of Europe. As a result, the overall quality of the wine produced suffered.

I hate to be a contrarian, Joe, but that's not true at all. 2003 did have a record heat wave and the earliest harvest recorded in France since 1460. The crop was greatly reduced because of scorched grapes - 60% reduced in some appellations. As is true in every vintage, talented winemakers made great wines. The '03 wines from the North and South Rhone, St. Emilion-Pomerol, Burgundy all produced some (perhaps) atypical but extremely delicious and early maturing wines.

In the context of this discussion, yes vintages are important on winelists.

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Right, but 2003 wines from suitable-for-bistro/osteria producers are, on the whole, messes. Even from notionally cool-climate areas such as Touraine and the Vallee d'Aoste suffered considerably, even though at first blush one might think that the extra ripeness might be welcome. And don't get me started on the rest of Italy.

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I'm not a complete wine geek like jparrott or our beloved moderator or any number of other people on this board whose wine knowledge makes me look like a simpleton,
I hate to be a contrarian, Joe, but that's not true at all. 2003 did have a record heat wave and the earliest harvest recorded in France since 1460. The crop was greatly reduced because of scorched grapes - 60% reduced in some appellations. As is true in every vintage, talented winemakers made great wines. The '03 wines from the North and South Rhone, St. Emilion-Pomerol, Burgundy all produced some (perhaps) atypical but extremely delicious and early maturing wines.

In the context of this discussion, yes vintages are important on winelists.

Like I said above... :blink:

But also, like Jake posted above, we're talking about a whole different economic category of wine. So unless you'd like an official tasting assistant so I can try the wines that you do, I can't offer to agree or disagree. ;)

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Does it matter in a "true" bistro? I had a pretty good $30 bottle here and I do not recall the year. Is it fair to jump on Cafe du Parc, about its wine list? Maybe then ran out of room on the menu...who knows.

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Maybe then ran out of room on the menu...who knows.
Another possibility is that they don't want to have to reprint the winelist whenever a vintage becomes unavailable and they have to substitute. It gives them flexibility. But I agree with JPW; I'd rather see the vintages on the list. I would hate to order a CdP and have them bring me a bottle of the '02 vintage.

By the way, the Berger Minervois on the list is excellent, a Robert Kacher selection.

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Does it matter in a "true" bistro? I had a pretty good $30 bottle here and I do not recall the year. Is it fair to jump on Cafe du Parc, about its wine list? Maybe then ran out of room on the menu...who knows.

I have not been to Cafe du Parc so I am jusr repluying in general. Printing a wine list without vintages in this day and age is a rip off to the consumer and shows total disrespect to the wine drinker. I would not order wine off of a list without vintages.

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Does it matter in a "true" bistro? I had a pretty good $30 bottle here and I do not recall the year. Is it fair to jump on Cafe du Parc, about its wine list? Maybe then ran out of room on the menu...who knows.

If it were a "true" bistro they'd be serving $15 bottles (or $10 liters) of the local plonk (and that would include tax and tip) and few would complain. On a list that has a lot of wines over $50 and none under $30, not having vintages is viniferous mal(olactic)practice.

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The flood gates have opened.
:blink: I think that's a bit of an unfair statement. Do I think that the lack of vintage dates on the winelist is annoying? Yes. Is that a minor quibble (for me), and would I gladly return to Cafe du Parc. Absolutely! If this response constitutes opening the floodgates, what is the Bebo thread? ;)
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I have neglected to mention that, the vintage thing notwithstanding, there are a bunch of interesting wines on the list that are most likely not from the stricken vintages, including the following:

Rolet Sparking Jura

Herve Seguin Pouilly-Fume

Frederic Mabileau St.-Nicolas de Bourgueil "Rouilliers"

Cauhape Jurancon "Seve d'Automne" (sweet)

I assume that the list is the work of Caterina Abruzzetti, ex-Citronelle and 2941 and current somm at the Willard, who likes interesting wines and putting together interesting lists, including this one. And there's a real chance I'll eat lunch there this week.

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I have neglected to mention that, the vintage thing notwithstanding, there are a bunch of interesting wines on the list that are most likely not from the stricken vintages, including the following:

Rolet Sparking Jura

Herve Seguin Pouilly-Fume

Frederic Mabileau St.-Nicolas de Bourgueil "Rouilliers"

Cauhape Jurancon "Seve d'Automne" (sweet)

I assume that the list is the work of Caterina Abruzzetti, ex-Citronelle and 2941 and current somm at the Willard, who likes interesting wines and putting together interesting lists, including this one. And there's a real chance I'll eat lunch there this week.

All wines from Simon N Cellars in Charlottesville. Didier Simonin is the managing partner. The delicious Cauhapé "Seve d'Automne" is the dry Juraní§on.
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All wines from Simon N Cellars in Charlottesville. Didier Simonin is the managing partner. The delicious Cauhapé "Seve d'Automne" is the dry Juraní§on.
Awesome, awesome importer.

Interesting that the Seve d'Automne is listed under sweet wines. Presumably the price-appropriate sweet bottling for CdP is the "Ballet d'Octobre"?
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Awesome, awesome importer.

Interesting that the Seve d'Automne is listed under sweet wines. Presumably the price-appropriate sweet bottling for CdP is the "Ballet d'Octobre"?

Seve is vinified dry. The Ballet d'Octobre is the least sweet of the moelleux wines from Henri Ramonteau, the next two being: Symphonie de Novembre and Noblesse du Temps. The Noblesse is really expensive.

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We went to Cafe du Parc for lunch this past Monday. I went with the wife and our 10 day old daughter. You forget how easy it is to go out to a meal with a small infant, we never would have been able to have a leisurely lunch with our 3 1/2 year old. Anyway, we split a charcuterie app of rillettes, pate, ham and cornichon. Everything was excellent and well seasoned. It was also nice to have the rillettes served at room temperature. I had the sous-vide pork w/ pommes frites. It was tasty and well seasoned although I thought it would be a bit more tender. The frites were very good and comparable to the ones we had at Central. My wife had a bowl of cold asparagus soup which she enjoyed. We split a very well made mille-feuille for dessert. All in all, we had a delicious meal and we will definitely go back. This place sort of reminds me of Courduroy in that is has very tasty food and will probably fly under the radar. The dining room does not have the buzz of Central (or the upcoming Becks) but the food is well above average. Check it out if you get a chance. BTW, we didnt have wine, but I think an establishment serving that quality of food should definitely have vintages on its wine list. Just my $.02.

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Overall, I thought the place was lovely, and I will return soon. The french onion soup was really good. The pork was surprisingly dry, and I was never asked what side I wanted. But, the space was lovely and everything else that I saw looked really good. It was quite a turnoff, however, when they brought me an empty box to fill myself with my leftovers; it turned my business lunch a little awkward. The croissants downstairs looked really good, and I will probably have to stop by soon to pick some up.

Edited to change tone; I was a little too influenced by the boxed leftovers when I first wrote.

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My husband and I ate there last night and found it excellent. I felt like I was in Paris with the French staff, excellent food and atmosphere. I was rather disappointed to walk out and find myself on Penn. Ave. and not near the Seine. :blink: I had dishes that have already been mentioned, pate, terrine, monkfish and pork, and all were excellent. I'd say this one is a bargain for the quality you get. I'll definitely be a repeat customer.

Tobey

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My friend and I had a very nice meal here Saturday night. I started with the onion soup, which was hearty and rich and I only wish I could place the elusive herb in it (thyme maybe?). I couldn't decide between the sous-vide pork and the roasted monkfish tail. The entrees come with a choice of sides, and our terrific waiter offered that he would recommend the leek puree with the monkfish and the fries or potatoes with the pork, which was just the tip to help me decide because I'd had my eye on the leeks. My friend had the pike filet mousse with crab and cognac broth which he said was good (but I couldn't taste due to a pesky shellfish problem). My friend ordered the wine, so I can't comment on the vintage debate. I only wish I'd thought of it at the time to ask the waiter about it! The space is a little strange -- it's very attractive, but a bit sterile and too brightly lit. The upstairs room is broken up into two parts, and we were in the quieter back part. The ground floor has beautiful tiles floors and is probably -- or will be -- packed at happy hour time. At 9:30 at night it was pretty empty, which created the impression from the outside that the place was dead despite a reasonable crowd upstairs (if we hadn't had a reservation I wouldn't have been particularly tempted to go in). I had the sense that a number of the other diners were guests at the Willard, which is not surprising, but that and the somewhat austere setting in the Willard made the place seem less fun, for want of a better word, than, say, Central. But dinner was delicious, service was friendly and efficient, it was a short walk form the E Street Cinema, and I had no problem getting a reservation, so I'm not complaining. Dinner for 2 with one app, 2 entrees, and a bottle of wine came to $90 pre-tip. Here's the menu again.

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Forgive me if this is a dumb question, but how is monkfish tail prepared and served?

I didn't know what to expect either, but it pretty much looked like a tail -- a thick triangular piece of fish. It was roasted and served with a rich pinot noir and veal sauce.

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