100 Best Restaurants 2010: L’Auberge Chez François

No. 61: L’Auberge Chez François

Cuisine: It’s all about nostalgia at this Alsatian institution, now in its sixth decade. Plates are still garnished with sprigs of parsley, and the cooking runs to standbys such as Châteaubriand and Dover sole meunière. Founder François Haeringer’s three sons usually run L’Auberge these days, but it’s still a place to rediscover what made classical French the favorite cuisine of the Mad Men era.

Mood: Country French dining rooms with dark wood beams, decorative copper pots, and windows framing the countryside seem made for proper celebrations, and the Old World–style pampering reinforces the sense of grand occasion.

Best dishes: A robust onion soup light on cheese and heavy on stock; a delicate crepe with chives, mushrooms, and Madeira-truffle sauce; grapefruit-mint palate-cleanser sorbet; the signature choucroute (a hearty lineup of pork, duck, and goose charcuterie and sausages; sauerkraut steeped in Crémant d’Alsace; red cabbage; and mustards); a marvelous chicken braised in Riesling with jus and haricots verts; whipped broccoli purée; hazelnut soufflé; plum tart with cinnamon ice cream.

Best for: A leisurely romantic dinner, family gathering, or special event.

Insider tips: In summer, the patio is the place to be—it feels as if you’re dining in a meadow. During winter, the coveted tables are fireside. Sunday lunch with light streaming in the walls of windows is also a hot ticket. The price of an entrée—from $59 to $75—includes appetizer, salad, sorbet, vegetable, dessert, and coffee or tea, plus lots of little extras from garlic bread to chocolate truffles. Sunday lunch is a deal at $39 to $49 for a similar meal but with some different menu items.

Service: ••••

Open Sunday and Tuesday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday for dinner. Very expensive.

See all of 2010'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.