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Friday, June 29, 2007

Thing 46: Cafe Deluxe

Last Saturday, the Boyfriend and I were cruising up Wisconsin Avenue towards Friendship Heights, to do some lazy Saturday shopping. (Wasn't able to find pink seersucker capri pants...ideas? anyone?) The convertible top was down, the sunglasses were on, and wasn't life feeling just fine at that moment? Well...almost. Hunger pangs. Longings for salads or noodles or sandwiches...maybe sushi? bagels? eggs? Oh dear, hungry indeed as everything sounded good. And driving up Wisconsin there are so many options. A repeat of Rockland's BBQ? Thai at Busara? Indian at Heritage? Did we just pass a Chipotle?!

Pull the car over! I spy a patio. With red umbrellas. And wine glasses and fancy sandwiches. Today we eat at Cafe Deluxe. I so rarely eat out these days, that Cafe Deluxe was a delicious treat, a chance to be waited on while enjoying the sunny Saturday afternoon.

Red umbrellas.  Handsome Boyfriend.
We asked to sit outside, on the sidewalk patio under the cover of the large red umbrellas, bathing all the diners in pools of golden red light. Our waitress was friendly, taking our drink orders and then hurrying off to attend to the many hungry customers enjoying the sunshine. As we sipped iced teas and studied the menu, our neighbors' food came. A beautiful onion and goat cheese tart was set in front of one of our dining neighbors, the other got a mountain of greens topped with a grilled salmon steak. We went back to the menus -- what were those items? How can we order them? Or do I actually want roasted beet with goat cheese salad? Steamed mussels in white wine with french fries? Herb roasted chicken with mashed potatoes? I was hungry enough that everything looked good. It was an indecisive kind of day.

By the time the waitress had rejoined us, I sucked it up and pointed at...the chicken paillard. I would like the chicken paillard, please. Except I didn't know what a paillard was. But it came with a salad of greens, figs, bacon and parmesan, so the chicken was kind of beside the point. The Boyfriend ordered a bacon cheeseburger. What can I say? Bacon on a summer Saturday afternoon. Life is good.

Chicken paillard with parmesan fig and bacon salad
Our food was quite good, too. It turns out a paillard is just a sauteed chicken breast. It was served in a lovely sauce that, best as I can make out, was a reduction of chicken stock and butter and made want very badly to lick my plate. If the Boyfriend did not embarrass so easily, I most likely would have. The salad, also, was a wonderful combination of salty-sweet, crunchy-soft, fatty-acidic. Crisp, salty, warm bacon crumbles paired delciously with sweet dried figs and salty parmesan shavings. I shall be replicating this myself come fig season, with fresh figs and without any of that greenery to get in the way.

Figs + parmesan + bacon crumbles = Heaven
The Boyfriend's cheeseburger was juicy and just pink enough inside, topped with a thick slice of cheese and two pieces of bacon. Served with thin crispy fries that I totally did not eat off his plate. I swear.

We love BACON!
And for dessert - a beautiful glass of strawberries, blackberries and blueberries, layered with creme fraiche. I adore creme fraiche, sour cream's lighter, sweeter cousin, and was again tempted to run my finger around the empty glass and lick it. The Boyfriend is a good influence on me in public.

Berries and creme fraiche!
Hunger sated, we relaxed on the patio, rubbing our full bellies and sipping iced tea. The patio was full of old friends catching up on the doings of their children, first dates, family brunches, and elderly double dates. Servers zipped by carrying beautiful salads and large pizzas and golden brown fruit crumbles. Fathers strolled down the sidewalk on Wisconsin, pushing baby carriages, sweatty joggers zipped past, AU students in the wrinkled clothes and sunglasses that tell the world they are hungover.

Cafe Deluxe is nothing fancy, not even particularly special. Franco-American semi-upscale bistros exist nearly everywhere these days, serving dressed up comfort foods. But stretching out in the sunshine on Wisconsin Ave with nothing to do all day and the most handsome man I've ever met sitting across from me? I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

Note to DC Sarah: Yes, we walked past 2Amys to get to Cafe Deluxe. And yes, I'm sure it is a better restaurant. But I was still in the midst of doing a two week stint gluten-free (I don't have celiac, but it was a frienship solidarity thing) and I didn't know what I'd be able to eat there. But keep an eye out next week for a recap of it -- I am going this Saturday for sure!


Caroline said...

Where do you get your fresh figs when they're in season? I'm interested in hearing about your gluten-free experiment. I suspect I have a mild gluten allergy and one of these days I want to try going a week or two without gluten to see how I feel. I've been an avid reader of GFG for a year or two now and the diet doesn't look that difficult, especially this time of year when seasonal produce abounds.

dc365 said...

I'm assumming I'll get fresh figs at the farmers' market. Is that foolish of me? Do they grow in the mid-Atlantic? I broke down this weekend and bought expensive ones at Whole Foods to meet the craving...

The gluten-free diet is actually remarkably easy to follow. So many things are actually allowed (corn, rice, quinoa etc) that you don't lack for things to eat. You basically have to cut out all processed foods though, which is a blessing in disguise.

If you're still interested, go ahead and email me privately at fgalleto (at) gmail (dot) com.

DC Sarah said...

I love creme fraiche too. In fact, I have a tub of it in my fridge (I used some to cook fresh morels in a la Orangette)-now I think I'm going to need to buy berries to finish it up! And I too been known to lick my plate, or run my fingers along my plate and then lick my fingers. Good thing my boyfriend is tolerant :)

Aren't you glad you went to 2Amys post-gluten?? Isn't the crust to die for??????

dc365 said...

Mmm..those morels do sound delicious...did you find them at the Dupont Market?

DC Sarah said...

Well....sort of...they had them there, but they were $15 for one of those little boxes...and I was trying to be good. I should have just gotten them there and supposrted local efforts, but I was trying to stretch my $$!.

But alas, no, I purchased them at Whole Foods a few days later!