100 Best Restaurants 2011: Café du Parc

No. 17

Only the top 40 restaurants were ranked in 2011's Best Restaurants list.

The allure of this place is not only its charm—the umbrella-topped patio evokes a Parisian bistro—but also its devotion to the pleasures of canonical French cooking.

The menu, devised by three-star Michelin chef Antoine Westermann and executed by protégé Angelo Galang, is a display of quiet excellence. A bowl of mussels—the best in town—and a roast chicken are reminders of the power of a simple thing done exceptionally well. Superior shopping and technical rigor undergird everything, elevating an otherwise ordinary square of roast cod with vegetables and transforming a humble crop of watercress into a soup of stunning color and refinement.

Dessert is another reminder: In an age when chefs are bent on proving that pie can be deconstructed, nothing satisfies quite like those sturdy classics—crème brûlée, profiteroles—that the French bequeathed us.

Also good: Pork rillettes with toasts; onion soup; medallions of veal with olives, hazelnuts, and ratatouille; country pâté; sous-vide roast-beef sandwich with cilantro crème fraîche (lunch only); side of hot, buttered tagliatelle; mille-feuille, a cream-filled, layered pastry.

Open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Expensive.

>> See all of 2011's Best Restaurants

 

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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.