Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Where to Brunch: Cafe La Ruche

This is not a post about online dating.  

How many of you have tried online dating in D.C.? Most, I'm guessing. Have you noticed a pattern? Silly question; of course you have! Match and OkCupid are both full of men and women who are laid-backsarcasticlooking for his/her partner in crime, shorter and/or heavier than reportedAND extremely well-traveled. I can't tell you how many profiles I've read that follow the EXACT SAME formula:

1. I'm originally from _____ and have lived in _____, _____, and _____.
2. I moved to D.C. to do _____ and have been here for _____ years/months.
3. I have traveled to _____ countries this year (see photo section for pictures of me looking like an ant, standing in front of the Seven Wonders of the World).

I won't lie, I have versions of steps 1 and 2 included in my profile as well (it's often a good/easy way to find a commonality). Step 3, however, is wholly absent. Why? I am severely under-traveled, and reading about everyone else's unbelievable excursions makes me even more aware of this sad fact. (Epcot doesn't count, right?)  

To make up for the fact that I'm not a world-traveler, I've made it a point to be a world-eater (you know what I mean). Whether it be Ethiopian, Japanese, Thai, or even my "native" German cuisine, count me in!  

This weekend, Appealing Kate and I took a trip to France. And by France, I mean my favorite neighborhood spot, Cafe La Ruche.
Seriously, how cute is this place?
Photo Credit: Prince of Petworth

Located in Georgetown on 31st Street between M and the water, the Beehive Cafe (see? I speak French. No, not really) is one of D.C.'s lesser-known gems. The Thirsty family has been feasting on authentic French delights here for more than 25 years and we still feel right at home in the quaint dining room. Check out their website for a fun history lesson about the building.

Since I've never actually been to France, I can't say with any authority that the ambiance is authentic. But I can say that it has a relaxed and simple vibe, which I imagine to be closer to the real deal than snootier, white table cloth spots I've been to in town. I also assume that the fact that there are often native French people sitting at the tables near me says something favorable about the food and setting.

I love that, on any given day, the dining room is filled with attorneys having power lunches, children with their parents, ladies brunching, couples celebrating an anniversary, and even runners replenishing after a race (a woman near us still had her St. Patrick's Day 8K bib on). Now that the weather is nice and warm more often than not, I plan on taking full advantage of their generously-sized patio too!

On Sunday, I talked Kate into joining me for brunch (convincing her took all of 2 seconds) and knew before we were even handed menus what I would order: Eggs Florentine. "Make that two!" said Kate.

Ignore the pepper on Egg #1. I tend to cover all food in the stuff and didn't remember to take the photo until I'd already started.

There are several things I love about this dish in particular:
1.  They offer this spinach version on the menu alongside the traditional Canadian bacon one. I don't eat the pig and find it frustrating that many restaurants don't offer alternatives up-front.
2.  The eggs are poached to perfection, smooth and runny. To me, there's nothing worse than an overcooked egg!
3.  The Hollandaise sauce is creamy and decadent but doesn't overwhelm the eggs.
4.  They don't pile greasy potatoes on the plate as an unnecessary side.  

I ordered my dish as part of their "brunch special" -- a mimosa (or plain old OJ), brunch entree, and dessert for $18. The mimosa was served in a wine glass, holding considerably more than a champagne flute, and was just what I needed to perk me up. Kate opted for coffee and took the significantly healthier route not to order dessert.  

When the time came, I placed my order for my usual fruit tart - it's $2 more but totally worth it. Confession: I don't really like desserts (I'm not a health-nut by any means; I'd just rather eat/drink my excess calories in cheese or beer), but I never go to Cafe La Ruche without ordering dessert! When you go, keep walking straight through the restaurant; you'll run right into the display case and immediately know why I can't pass it up!  

Fruit is a critical part of any balanced diet.

Once my beautiful treat hit the table, Kate folded. "Screw it. I'm getting something too." And straight to the display case she went to pick out her chocolate delight.

Chocolate makes people happy.

Neither of us finished ours, but we made our best attempts. One of these days, I'll go just for wine and dessert and finally finish a whole tart by myself.  

All this talk of dessert makes me realize that Cafe La Ruche would be a great pre-/post-movie outing or even the perfect finale of a progressive dinner!  

Now if only I could find a date ... 

Bon Appetit!