Cafe Deluxe – Bethesda

Modern American comfort food and a roster of creative martinis.

From September 2003

Cafe Deluxe has something for everyone. A sweeping bar and sidewalk cafe for the singles crowd, a family-friendly menu and crayons for the kids, and a kitchen that turns out clever riffs on classics for Mom and Dad. You'll find plates like grilled meatloaf with spicy Creole sauce, a veal chop with a very grown-up Gruyère mac and cheese, and a steak Caesar.

Go cheap and light with main-course salads or offbeat sandwiches–the snapper club and lamb and goat cheese are divine–or more expensive and substantial with hot plates. Modern American bistro is the motif in this comfortable dining room with white butcher paper on the tables and glossy wood banquettes. So a juicy all-American hamburger is at home alongside a bowl of penne with chicken and vegetables in the lightest of cream sauces. Less successful is the cafe's attempt at French bistro–steak frites with greasy French fries and a piece of meat that's nothing special.