Stepping into Le Diplomate, I immediately fell in love with the space. It’s absolutely stunning and I’d expect nothing less after restaurateur Stephen Starr spent millions renovating the space. It really brought me back to Paris.
With small tables lining one side of the exterior and an enormous patio down the other side of the restaurant, Le Diplomate seats 260 people. Even with so much seating, a reservation is a must at this hot DC spot. Mike, John and I dropped by for brunch, which is served on both Saturdays and Sundays. Make sure you take advantage of the fact that they take reservations – even for brunch!
Like the size of the restaurant, the menu is also huge. It’s got all your French favourites brought to you by Executive Chef Michael Abt – seafood (including seafood towers), hors d’oeuvres (steak tartare, salad niçoise, foie gras parfait), sandwiches/tartines, a selection of cheese, egg dishes (eggs en cocotte and eggs boudin noir), entrees (moules frites and beef bourguignon) and even carafes of wine.
I started off with a Café Vietnamese ($4.50). In hindsight, I should’ve just gone with a regular coffee to complement our sweet starter. The Vietnamese iced coffee was just sweet for my liking – a little too much condensed milk.
Shortly after our beverages arrived, our Breakfast Pastries – chef’s selection of pastries, baked in-house ($12) came to the table. The service wasn’t off to a great start. I had inquired about the contents of the basket and the server said he didn’t know. He said he’d ask someone else to describe it to us. Nobody came by and before you knew it, there wasn’t a crumb left in the basket.
Despite the clueless server, we loved the contents of the pastry basket which consisted of a croissant, pain au chocolat, brioche, blueberry muffin and chausson aux pommes to name a few. Each component was delicious, including the preserves that went perfectly with the brioche.
Next up was the Mushroom Tart – pioppini mushrooms & truffle pecorino ($14.50). One bite and you’ll understand why everyone raves about this dish. The creamy sauce, deep earthy flavour and crust was perfection – easily the best mushroom tart I’ve ever eaten. A must-order!
After some deliberation, we decided to order the Duck Sarladaises – confit, egg sunny side up & roasted potatoes ($15). We almost didn’t order this and what a mistake that would’ve been. Served in a cast iron pan, this dish consisted of chunks of duck confit and perfectly seasoned roast potatoes covered in a rich hollandaise and runny eggs. A damn good duck confit hash!
Another dish we shared was the Croque-Madame – grilled ham, fried egg & sauce mornay ($13.50). I’m a big fan of croque-madame’s and while this was a solid one, it paled in comparison to the other stellar dishes we had at Le Diplomate.
The last dish we shared was the Burger Americain – cheeseburger with pomme frites ($15). With double patties, layers of cheese and a soft bun, this delicious burger was reminiscent of a Big Mac. Despite how full we were, we were still able to finish every bit of this burger. The burger was served with a hearty portion of addictive frites which I would’ve cleared if it weren’t for all the other rich dishes we ordered. This was way too much food for three people – we really could’ve used another person!
With so much hype surrounding a restaurant, expectations were high going in and I’m happy to report that it lived up to expectations!
At a glance:
• A gorgeous space inspired by a Parisienne café which seats 260
• A large patio on the side of the restaurant
• Open everyday for lunch and dinner; brunch served on weekends
• Brought to us by restaurateur Stephen Starr who also has restaurants in Philadelphia, New York, New Jersey and Florida
• Extensive menu of French favourites
• Food was excellent; service was so-so
• Must-orders: mushroom tart and duck sarladaises
Ratings (out of 5):
• Food: 4 stars
• Service: 2 stars
• Atmosphere: 5 stars