100 Best Restaurants 2008: L’Auberge Chez Francois

No. 60: L'Auberge Chez Francois

Cuisine: Old-guard French by way of Alsace, where François Haeringer—who established his first Washington restaurant 50-plus years ago—was born. His son, Jacques, is now chef de cuisine, but the elder Haeringer still rules. Entrée prices may seem hefty, but they include a starter, house salad, and dessert of your choice along with several little extras.

Mood: Nestled amid woodlands and meadows, the inn—with dark-wood beams, fresh flower arrangements, and lovely landscaping—looks like a hostelry in the Alsatian countryside. Service is Old World formal, with waiters in red vests and “hosts” in dark suits floating around to make sure all is well.

Best for: Special occasions and romantic dinners.

Best dishes: Petite seafood choucroute with beurre blanc; housemade pâtés and rillettes that taste of France; tender veal cheeks with sherry and wild mushrooms; the signature choucroute, rich with sausages, goose confit, foie gras, and more; plum tart à la mode.

Insider tips: Ask for a table by one of the fireplaces or in the Garden Room for a late Sunday-afternoon lunch (or early dinner) and watch the light fade behind a stand of pines. In summer, the patio is probably the area’s most charming al-fresco dining spot, and it’s first come, first served, so you don’t have to activate the redial button for a reservation—the restaurant takes reservations up to four weeks in advance. There’s a charming children’s menu, including a miniature pâté plate and pasta with veal in cream sauce.

Service: ••••

Get Our “Brunches This Weekend” Newsletter

The best breakfasts and brunches to try every weekend, plus our most popular food stories of the week.

Or, see all of our newsletters. By signing up, you agree to our terms.
Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.