January 2006 100 Very Best Restaurants: Leopold’s Kafe & Konditorei

The menu, which mingles Modern American dishes and contemporary riffs on Austrian classics, is excellent and, given its surroundings, surprisingly affordable--you could expect to pay twice as much elsewhere.

THE SCENE. If you can find this airy, Euro-style restaurant/lounge/bar/coffeehouse tucked away in an alley off M Street in Georgetown, and if you can look past the self-consciousness and hauteur it exudes once you get there (big if), you'll be rewarded. The menu, which mingles Modern American dishes and contemporary riffs on Austrian classics, is excellent and, given its surroundings, surprisingly affordable–you could expect to pay twice as much elsewhere.

WHAT YOU'LL LOVE. The space is impressively conceived to accommodate a variety of patrons at any one time: breakfast diners, people who want to linger over a cup of coffee, couples looking to split a Sachertorte after a movie.

WHAT YOU WON'T. Service has improved some since its launch, but lapses still occur in the multipurpose space, and management isn't inclined to take responsibility. The chilled display case tends to mute the flavors of the otherwise excellent pastries inside.

BEST DISHES. Beautiful grilled asparagus, thick, meaty, and lightly charred; one of the best roast chickens in town; carefully grilled salmon dressed up with Medjool dates, shaved fennel, and a rim of basil oil; gooey, nutmegy spaetzle; crispy veal schnitzel; thick, layered finger sandwiches of smoked salmon or egg salad.

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