An Early Look at Café Tropé

By: Marissa Conrad

Jerk-chicken lollipops? They're here.
The new Dupont Circle restaurant Café Tropé closed for a few hours Wednesday night to host a media tasting of some of the menu’s French-Caribbean fare. Executive chef Howsoon Cham, who is in the process of selling his Georgetown restaurant, Red Ginger, and was once chef de cuisine at Georgia Brown’s, cooked four courses for guests, ranging from jerk-chicken lollipops to rack of lamb with mint pistou.

So what did we like at the restaurant, which opened a few weeks ago in the former home of the defunct 21P? The juicy lamb; the quinoa-pumpkin-and-spinach salad; the grilled rockfish with olives, capers, and peppers; and those jerk-chicken lollipops (Cham has mastered the art of adding heat without taking flavor). The basket of warm bread, served with a garlic-artichoke tapenade, is also a nice start. But skip the plantain-crusted oysters (the thick breading overpowered any oyster flavor fighting to get through), the pear-and-Roquefort salad (skimpy on both counts), and the sweet-potato crème brûlée, which tasted as odd as it sounds.

Portions may be on the small side—a fellow diner seemed shocked to learn that yes, his plate would be the same size if he came back during regular hours—but they’re priced accordingly: Dishes range from $6 to $13.

Café Tropé, 2100 P St., NW; 202-223-9335; cafetrope.com. Open for dinner Sunday and Tuesday through Thursday, 5 to 10; Friday and Saturday, 5 to 11. Closed Monday. Lunch service is set to begin in February.