Before you visit Café du Parc, the French bistro at Willard InterContinental in Washington, D.C., here are the five things we think you should know about this restaurant:
1. It’s a rare culinary oasis near the National Mall. At Willard InterContinental, you're just a block from the National Mall and the Smithsonian — great attractions, but there's little food in the area save a snack shack or two. The blue awnings of Café du Parc are like a desert oasis to weary travelers weak from a day of sightseeing — and as such, the restaurant is often crowded.
2. There’s a kid-friendly menu. More good news for tourists: Café du Parc's children's menu gives kids a taste of grown-up options rather than hewing to standard fare like chicken fingers. Breakfast includes such options as banana pancakes and Belgian waffles. Lunch and dinner bring small steaks, fish, roasted chicken, buttered pasta entrees, a grilled Gruyère sandwich, hand-cut fries, and ice cream or chocolate mousse for dessert.
3. It’s a killer breakfast spot. Breakfast is a delight for adults and kids alike. Those on a budget can enjoy breakfast for just $5.50 with a bowl of Irish oatmeal or Cream of Wheat, but most will be tempted to spend more. Two eggs any style are $11.95, but the plate includes bacon, ham, or sausage with toast, potatoes, and a fresh, unexpected salad of mixed greens on the side.
4. It has a world-renowned chef. All meals have the benefit of a serious French pedigree. Chef Antoine Westermann was the chef at the award-winning Le Buerehiesel in Strasbourg, France. But the Café du Parc menu isn't stuffy: Westermann favors slow-cooked recipes that mimic "grandmother's cooking," and fills the menu with delicious offerings ranging from French onion soup to seasonal favorites like the sous vide-braised pork shank flavored with lemon and fennel.
5. Delicious French-inspired cocktails grace the drink menu. Le Bar at Café du Parc features classic cocktails like mint juleps and manhattans, but it also includes seasonally changing French favorites. On our visit, this list included a blueberry cosmopolitan, a cherry martini, and another floral offering — a cherry blossom Champagne cocktail made of a mix of bubbly with St-Germain liqueur. There's also a Champagne cocktail that includes actual blossoms, mixing Champagne with wild hibiscus flowers.