Le Diplomate – A Little Paris in DC

Le Diplomate

1601 14th Street NW

 

We are so lucky to live in the Washington DC metro area.  We have access to three airports, two of which are international. We have a very diverse community with access to cultural venues and events. We do not experience extreme weather conditions except humidity. Close to other major cities (NYC & PHL) and we have good education systems and a plethora of fine dining to choose from. In particular Washington DC seems to have more than its fair share of French restaurants.

 

Le Diplomate

 

 

My parents and older sister closed up shop and moved back to Washington DC after being gone for two years. At the time I was two months old so I pretty much consider myself a native Washingtonian. For the most part, it seems like folks who live in DC are from someplace else where French food is not necessarily the most poplar thing going. Texas is known for BBQ, Chicago for pizza, Philadelphia for cheesesteaks, Seattle for coffee, New York for cheesecake but DC….ahhh, French food? I mean you gotta admit, DC does love its french restaurants but I am not exactly sure why.

 

 

 

Le Diplomate is a new Frenchie located where else, 14th Street NW. This restaurant is VERY popular so if you plan on going here you will need a reservation. Let me explain how popular this restaurant is. I got on the 52 metro bus headed north and asked the driver if the bus goes close to the 1600 block of 14th Street. The driver looked at me and immediately asked “you must be going to that new French restaurant right”? I gotta admit that caught me totally off guard but that’s how popular this place is which leads me back to the question of ‘why are French restaurants so popular here in DC’?

 

BaBa Au Rhum

 

 

I’ve met so many people who just LOVE Paris. I’ve traveled a bit in France and did visit Paris and its not really one of my favorite cities. Paris reminds me of NYC in that its a big concrete metropolitan city and I do want to go back one day but I would not necessarily say that its charming, but that’s just me. Having said that there are two things I LOVED about that country, the museums and the FOOD. In particular those nice outdoor cafes and bistros. Maybe that’s why the locals seem to flock to this french spot because it reminds them of Paris.

Normally to draw the level of excitement that Le Diplomate has in DC you need to have “farm to table” or “locally grown” on the menu. This normally gets everyone excited for some reason but I don’t think Le Diplomate indulges in that concept. Instead it relies upon appealing as the quintessential french cafe.

Although I’d heard the buzz about Le Diplomate, VH1 asked me to make a reservation. Well, I don’t even think the Salahi’s could have conned their way into this place within a week of trying. This was about a month ago and the only tables they had within 7 days of our choice was right at the 5pm opening for dinner so we jumped on it.

 

 

Once inside I realized that the place is actually not very large. We were lucky enough to get an outdoor table and I would suggest the same. They do have a bar that I image will seat you without a reservation but good luck with that. Also the noise level indoors was very high once it got busy which gives another reason to sit outdoors. I noticed a table that had “reserved” posted which I guess they hold just incase Michelle and Barack have a last minute date night. Unfortunately they didn’t show up the night we were there. In fact no VIPs dropped by as it remained unoccupied the entire time.

 

The server and staff where very good but nothing exceptional. The menu has the basics with about 12 entree’s, with plenty of seafood hot and cold hors d’oeuvres, some sides, cheeses and a large selection of wines.

 

Rabbit with Carrots and Dumplings

 

Each night for dinner they have a special selection on the menu. We had the rabbit so I guess our visit was on a Thursday. The server recommend the dish and mentioned that they normally run out fairly early because its very good. Well that’s all he had to say. VH1 and I got the rabbit while VH2 went for the TarTare, along with a couple of bottles of wine. Oh yeah, and the regional cheese selection of 7 different cheeses. Yikes almost forgot dessert too. We had the Apple Tart Tatin and the Rum Soaked Baba.

 

 

TarTare

 

The rabbit was served with carrots and dumplings. The meat was very moist and nicely portioned. Carrots cooked just right and the dumpling served well instead of maybe potatoes. VH2 enjoyed the TarTare but everyone was less impressed with the fromages. I think we expected that the selection would knock our wigs off but it was pretty much on par with most venues on the block.  The deserts were outstanding and worth every calorie! I enjoyed the Apple Tart best. We are already making plans to go back but this time on a Monday for the Veal Sweetbreads.

 

Apple Tart

Well its confirmed, the food was very good. We were very happy with everything we ordered, the service was great and we enjoyed sitting outdoors enjoying the view and the nice weather…you know what..I guess it did actually reminded me a little of Paris!

 

If you are from out of town or just want a little bit of Paris for one night, to get to this popular destination, take the metro green line to the U Street station then about a 15 minute walk or  take the 54/52 bus north or from where ever you are, just walk up to anyone on the street and ask “how do I get to the Le Diplomate from here” and chances are they will know.