Café Dupont

1500 New Hampshire Ave NW
Washington, DC 20036
Cafe Dupont on Urbanspoon

My mom loves Julia Child.  She's seen Julia and Julia several times and her go-to recipes for almost anything begins and ends with Julia Child.  Her and I have spent countless holidays making Julia's tarte tatin recipe.  I don't even know if that's the proper title but that's what it's called in my family.  So, when I saw that some restaurants in DC were celebrating Julia Childs' 100th birthday, we decided to try the prix fixe menu specially for the occasion at Cafe Dupont, located in the Dupont Circle Hotel.

I'll confess, I don't know much about Julia Child.  I don't even lean particularly towards French cuisine but my mom has this reverence towards her and since my mom is the one that's taught me the most about food and cooking then Julia's got to be some sort of influence somewhere in there.  The menu consisted of three courses which were touted as some of Julia's (yes, her and I are now on a first name basis) classics.  The courses were a parfait de foie de poulet, canard a l'orange and a tarte tain de peche (I guess that is what you call it).  The first and second courses came with wine pairings and the whole meal was only $50 per person.  So, it looked a great menu and a great deal.  In case you're interested, I think it goes on until August 15th.

Before the meal started, they brought out a warm loaf of french bread (a bit fatter and thicker than a traditional baguette) in a white paper bag with homemade butter.  The bag was a nice touch and got my parents thinking of their trips to France and most notably Paris when they'd buy some freshly baked bread in the morning with some cheese.  Those memories came flooding back to me too when I tasted the warm bread with the butter.  There was something just a touch off by it.  I think I wanted it to be crustier and less chewy.  Maybe it was just the thickness of the bread or maybe we just had to wait a bit longer to eat it.  Who knows?

The first course was a parfait de foie de poulet.  This is similar to a pate but has to contain at least 75% foie gras whereas a pate is only required to have 50% (loves me my interwebs).  It was served with some melba toast, peach chutney over pickled prune slices, and crumbled (at least I think they were) pistachios.  The accompanying wine pairing was a nice little chablis which was light, dry and straightforward.  The parfait had a nice, creamy texture that minimized any bad liver aftertaste and emphasized the nice smooth almost gamey flavor.  I personally love a simple toast and foie combination so I didn't really incorporate the chutney, prunes or nuts.  I did like the tangy flavors in the chutney and prunes which helped cleanse your palate after the strong liver tastes.  The pistachios were a bit mild so got lost and forgotten over the strength of the other flavors.

The second course was canard a l'orange.  This was a duck breast served in thick slices on a bed of chick peas mixed with lardons (i think) along with a chick pea hash.  It was surrounded by the traditional orange sauce and a couple of roasted mission figs were placed on the sides.  The accompanying wine was a bold pinot noir from cotes des nuits.  The chick peas and chick pea hash was definitely a deviation from the traditional potato mash you'd find with this dish but it did provide the same much needed starchiness and sponginess for the the sauce.  The duck had that nice rich, fatty flavor and the orange taste was subtler than probably Julia intended but I liked that the duck flavor had center stage.  To me, though, it was slightly overcooked and I would've like the skin to be a tad crispier. Oh, and there were roasted figs.  They were simply split in half and they were like fruit crack.  I could have had about 10 more.

For the last course, I ordered a Cafe Latte with my dessert and it came in this funky plastic glass that you could see the separation of the coffee and milk.  Not sure why I'm mentioning it, it was just particularly mesmerizing.  No, seriously, it was.  Stop laughing.  The dessert was a Tarte Tatin de Peche.  It came with a caramel tuile placed on top of amaretto ice cream and some ligonberries (I think) and caramel sauce on the side.  The tart crust was more of a puff pastry crust, more flaky than I expected, with the peaches laid on top.  I enjoyed the flavors of the caramelized peaches but I'd prefer a crumblier crust.  The tartness of the berries provided a nice balance especially when mixed with the ice cream.  I could only detect a hint of the amaretto in the ice cream but it still packed a ton of flavor and oddly enough was reminiscent of a mild butterscotch ice cream to me.

Julia Child would have turned 100 on August 15 or this coming Wednesday.  She was a huge culinary influence to many people but more importantly to me, she was a pretty big culinary influence to my mom.  It was only appropriate that we celebrate her 100th birthday at a proper 100th birthday celebration.   The meal we received at Cafe Dupont, while some elements were a loose interpretation of Julia's classic, was just the type of homage we were looking for.  It included rich foods, great wine, and full, satisfied stomachs.  Mom even bought Julia's biography, Dearie, that was displayed at the restaurant.  Cheers to you, Julia.  Thanks for helping teach my mom the love of food she passed along to me.

1 comment:

  1. I remember myself when you shared that story because it is almost similar to mine. Children healthy eating is what my mom really likes so she always bring me to places where there are restaurants that serve nutritious food instead of unhealthy instant food.


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