We've always appreciated the gorgeous decor and rendezvous-appropriate lighting at the Dupont Hotel's two dining locations, Bar Dupont and Café Dupont (1500 New Hampshire Ave. N.W.). Created by Adamstein and Demetriou, Inc., the $52 million facelift was worth every penny -- and when the weather's good, the outdoor seating area generates as long a wait as we've seen.
The only problem? Well, it used to be the food, which never quite matched the attention to detail of the decor.
Not a problem anymore!
Newly hired Executive Chef Silvan Kramer has created a new Francophile-centric menu that lives up to the luxe atmosphere.
From the appetizer menu, we ordered the Salade d'Epinards et Steak Grille (baby spinach, grilled hanger steak, blue cheese and walnuts, $12); the Moules Dupont (mussels drenched in cream, chorizo, garlic and onion, $19); and the Terrine de Foie Gras (apple chutney and toasted brioche, $16).
The portion size of the salad was fairly large and the steak grilled to the chef's temperature of medium instead of my companion's preferred choice of well (but he forgot to specify, so all's fair). Soft and chewy, but not too dense for a salad topping, "really good" was the final verdict on the steak.
The mussels arrived in a bowl the size of Texas. Exquisitely cooked, they were delicate and nicely balanced with the cream. The sole complaint was the antipated fries didn't come out with the mussels -- probably for the better, since it let us consume more of a hard-to-get treat instead of something we can grab anywher. The foie gras was pleasant, with the accompanying side of apple chutney having a nice fudgy texture instead of a limp puree.
Entrees were the Confit de Cuisse de Canard (duck leg confit with a side of puy lentils, $23) and Saumon Poele (pan-seared salmon, crabmeat, mushroom cream, fennel and potatoes, $20). We've never seen duck leg inhaled in five minutes flat! And the salmon was tender, light and a lovely combination of both salty and sweet.
We'd recommend the dessert, except we were too full to try any. But be sure to get a taste of the aperitif Alan's Love ($11). Made with pear vodka, St. Germaine, fresh muddled cucumber and lime, and a smattering of cucumber garnish, this will never disappoint.