100 Best Restaurants 2009: L’Auberge Chez Francois

No. 25: L’Auberge Chez François

Cuisine: Not much has changed on the menu in the 50 years since François Haeringer opened his original Alsatian restaurant near the White House, but son Jacques, now in the kitchen, seems to have found new energy. Often superficially handled classics such as Dover-sole meunière, sweetbreads in puff pastry with Madeira and chanterelles, and Grand Marnier soufflé are redeemed here.

Mood: The decor in this country-inn-style place pushes the nostalgia envelope—grapevine chandeliers, painted plates, a conservatory-style Garden Room.

Best for: Special family occasions.

Best dishes: Provençal-style coquilles St. Jacques; mini-Thermidor of lobster, shrimp, scallops, and crabmeat; veal kidneys; choucroute; braised veal cheeks; frog’s legs; foie gras. Also trust the game specials and shellfish.

Insider tips: The $60-to-$75 “entrées” include appetizer, salad, and dessert plus an amuse-bouche, palate-cleansing sorbet, and a finish of chocolate truffles and tuiles cookies. Some dishes aren’t counted in the prix fixe—soufflés and cappuccinos, for instance. It’s not as hard to get reservations as it used to be, but it’s still a good idea to call a month in advance. In good weather, the patio is lovely for dining, but it’s first come, first served, so go early.

Service: **** (four stars).

Open Tuesday through Saturday for dinner, Sunday for lunch and dinner.

See all of 2009's 100 Best Restaurants.  

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.