Rosemary Bistro and Cafe, Washington, DC

I walked straight down to Rosemary Bistro and Cafe for lunch the last time I was in town. It had excited a little controversy on the neighborhood listserve, with views pro and con, and I wanted to see for myself. I’d planned to go there the week before, but a malign fate took me across the street to Muchas Gracias. This time I stuck with my plan and sat down at one of Rosemary’s outside tables.

I was still in lose-weight mode after my latest barbecue tour of Eastern North Carolina and judging the World’s Best Shrimpburger Competition (see here), so I wanted something light. I settled on a bowl of gazpacho and, ignoring a croque madame and other delights in favor of the pan seared dumpling appetizer. (You can have either pork or vegetable dumplings. I chose pork.) I ordered without listening to the specials, so I didn’t get the lamb shank. And I declined to order a glass of wine. Will power.

The owner began by bringing out a few nice slices of French bread.

Have you ever built a house of cards? When I tasted the bread it was if a hurricane had descended and scattered my resolve, leaving my lose-weight mode in ruins. That was really, really good bread. When was the last time I complimented the chef on the bread? I asked and, yes, they make it daily in house. They may also bake their own croissants and pain au chocolate and pain aux raisins in-house — I guess at brunch. Maybe. Communication through masks with a big truck going by is difficult. I’m sure that they sell loaves of French bread to go. I immediately ordered one and a glass of wine.

The gazpacho was very good.

It’s a much more sophisticated gazpacho than the uber-rustic I make at home. It’s silky smooth and light, and not over-thickened by bread. It has a great flavor. The gazpacho came with a house-bread crostini, which stretches all the way across the bowl until you take a bite, with tomatoes and onion and a nice touch of jalapeño. Excellent.

The dumplings also were very good.

The filling had a very nice flavor, and the dipping sauce was way above average. And it was just the right amount of food to fit into the remnants of my lose-weight dream.

Note that although Rosemary Bistro is a French restaurant, I didn’t end up ordering anything French, except for that baguette to go. The techniques and attention to detail are very French, but the menu draws from all over the world. And the menu you find on line is only the beginning. There are specials every day, and that’s where I expect to focus my next visits (plural).

The other diners seemed equally pleased with their own meals, and from what I could see, the ingredients looked to have been chosen with care. Service was attentive and professional, and bilingual for those who want to . The entire experience was pleasant, and I left having enjoyed a lovely meal, hugging a warm baguette.

Stroll on down — or up or over — to Rosemary Cafe and Bistro for a great meal.

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