September was a month filled with love. We traveled to my husband’s hometown for the wedding of a high school friend, celebrated our third wedding anniversary, and I was fortunate to take part in the wedding of one of my oldest friends. Its been a busy time for us with celebrating our loved ones but I am so glad that we managed to find time to celebrate our own wedding anniversary. Of course we ended up doing our favorite thing…EATING! We’re both getting back on the bandwagon of making healthier food choices, but for a special occasion of course we splurged on something decadent. We decided to try out Le Diplomate on 14th Street. I’ve been hearing about Le Diplomate ever since we moved to DC two years ago. It is regularly featured on best of DC lists and seems to be a common choice among local bigwigs (a friend once saw Joe Biden there). Understandably I was quite excited about this dinner, and not just because of the chance to go famous-people-watching (unfortunately there were no famous people sightings during this particular meal).
From the outside Le Diplomate lacks the flashiness that characterizes many DC establishments. The one story building exudes a sense of unassuming age that you don’t usually see here. The inside is all medium dark wood paired with light molding, and wicker chairs – very old world European. We opted to sit outside for our 6:30 reservation since it was one of those rare but perfect low-humidity DC days. Le Diplomate possesses a decently sized patio for DC. I was extremely pleased to see that there was plenty of space to maneuver between tables. There is nothing worse than being face to crotch with a stranger while they squeeze by your table. In June Tom Sietsema from the Washington Post wrote an article about the increasing prevalence of this restaurant nuisance. Good on Le Diplomate for avoiding the trend!
I made our reservation online and noted in the form that my husband has a shellfish allergy. After introducing himself, our server checked which member of our party had the allergy and also confirmed that we were there for an anniversary. Of course me, not remembering that I had notified them of this when making the reservation a month prior, was immediately like WHAT IS THIS SORCERY? DID THEY FACE-STALK ME??? I blame Barcelona Wine Bar for giving us free anniversary champagne. My bad memory aside, I was impressed not just that they read the notes from my reservation, but that they took the time to double check the details with us after we were seated. It is this type of service that elevates a dining experience from good to great and it immediately got the meal started out on the right foot.
To start they brought us a bread basket with some of the best damn butter I’ve had in a long time. It was perfectly spreadable, sweet, and paired excellently with warm crusty bread. For appetizers we ordered the Escargots a la Bourguignonne and the Foie Gras Parfait since we were feeling pretty adventurous. I had never eaten escargots before. I enjoyed them, but I’m unsure if they’re really for me. Most of what I was tasting seemed to be the parsley-garlic butter. The snail seemed like an afterthought – just something to give the dish texture.
The Foie Gras Parfait was not what I was expecting but that did not detract from its deliciousness. It was more like an extra creamy pate. The most parfait-ey thing about it was the almond streusel scattered on the board, and the honey-lavender peaches accompanied the dish in the most darling little jar. Parfait or pate, it was incredible. Matt stated that it was the best thing he’d ever tasted in his life. High praise indeed! At one point he was just sitting there with his eyes closed as he chewed. I’m pretty sure someone could have dumped a pitcher of water on him and he wouldn’t have noticed.
For the entree Matt chose Beef Bourguignon, a dish that always makes me think of Julia Child. I went with the Veal Escalope. Both were predictably amazing. My favorite part of the dish were the chanterelles – so meaty and delicious. The mushroom cream sauce was slightly too rich for my taste. I think that if there were less of it I would have been fine.
We finished off the meal with creme brûlée to share and the 10 Year Tawny Port because we are FANCY, DAMMIT! And then of course they brought out some complimentary anniversary champagne. Happy Tuesday to us! We went home slightly more tipsy than planned but extremely satisfied.
Le Diplomate is a DC classic where you can’t really go wrong. Expect rich food and a romantic atmosphere. The service is top notch and the staff go above and beyond to make your night pleasurable. We will definitely be back, especially for that Foie Gras Parfait!