When you walk into one of the District’s “hottest table in town,” you’re unsure of what to expect. At least from my perspective, you give the benefit of the doubt and hope that the reviews are true.
Le Diplomate meets expectations. Did the restaurant exceed them? Not entirely, but I’ll admit the food is worthy for a return.
Kevin kindly reserved a table for two on a weekday several weeks in advance. To our luck, it poured rain prior (and during) our arrival. When I say pouring rain, I mean getting alerts on our phones that there’s a flash flood warning for the next couple hours.
Yet after running through the rain and getting wet enough to soak my Nike roshes, I rushed in flustered and dripping wet. Luckily the hostess handed me several cloth napkins to dry off, already a great start to an evening.
Waiting for Kevin to valet his car, I glanced around to see both a combination of an older generation of Americans and a handful of trendsetters more or less in my age demographic. One thing was for sure: I knew (and felt) like a minority.
After waiting several moments for our table, we overheard the hostess explain to larger parties that reservations were a mess due to the rain and closing the outside portion of the restaurant. Even though we waited a couple extra minutes of our table, we understood.
After discovering the bread basket apparently gave the restaurant a run for its money, I didn’t think it was anything special. If I wanted freshly baked bread, I would walk to the bakery around the corner and this is more or less the most basic and plainest of what I could get. The butter seemed freshly churned though.
With the appetizers on deck, I ordered the Ricotta Ravioli complete with plum tomato, basil and parmesan cheese. Most remarkable is the homemade pasta (clearly made in house) because after biting into it, I could taste the soft texture that you can’t get from any boxed good. The inside was filled with a rich, savory ricotta cheese and didn’t overpower, but complemented the sauce perfectly. Might I mention, Le Diplomate put the perfect amount of sauce in this dish as I didn’t have excess, nor did I crave more. The basil adds that perfect touch to the ravioli making it complete.
Above is Kevin’s appetizer, Mediterranean Sardines. He deemed them up to par and kind reminder of his mother’s home-cooked meals.
I opted out of the burger, but it did look delicious (see below) and instead ordered the Veal Escalope with morels, spring onion and a mushroom cream sauce. Writing this piece and staring at this dish makes me miss it. The veal came out perfectly tender and the sauce combined with the soft cut up mushroom paired well. After eating my entree, I wanted more, but I felt full. The cream sauce did kick in a bit later (as all Southern food seems to do) and by the time Kevin finished his meal, I felt stuffed.
No dessert because I felt too full from the rest of the meal. Our server graciously took our plates after we both completed the meal. While we glanced and pondered ordering a milk chocolate cream pot, we decided we would need to return.
Beware though, with good food in this venture comes with a louder than usual ambience. It’s quite noisy for my taste, but it resembles a fast-paced French restaurant. Glance up at the ceiling and take in the restaurant’s architecture; it’s beautiful.
Recommendation: Go when you can! Everything looks and tastes as delicious as you would imagine. Make sure you bring your wallet because the French don’t eat cheap.
Photos by TheKevinJ.