Cafe Montmartre

French, Vietnamese
$$$$ ($15-$24)

Editorial Review

If you're shopping at Reston Town Center and you want to relax over lunch in a cozy restaurant, it's worth the short drive to spend some time at Lake Anne's Cafe Montmartre.

The food, though adequate, isn't what makes the visit advisable. It's the atmosphere. The decor is more art gallery than French bistro, a fact that adds to the uniqueness of the place. The walls are lined with paintings by locals -- combine that with the openness of the space and you have a cafe that's both arty and airy.
During my visit, more customers were seated on the smoking side, which is nicely separated from the nonsmokers' dining area by virtue of the restaurant's L-shape design. Consequently, it was nice and peaceful from where I sat and I was able to settle at my table and into the menu quite easily.

The dinner selections are more expansive and slightly more expensive than the lunch offerings. Dinner, for obvious reasons, focuses on entrees, most of which are pretty standard (grilled New York strip steak, trout almondine, grilled chicken breast with linguine, etc.).

The lunch menu contains five entree choices, as well as several sandwich options, salads, soups, appetizers and quiches. I went the light route and ordered the crab soup ($3.95) and a Caesar salad ($5.95). The soup, with its tomatoey spiciness, provided a refreshing change from the usual cream-based crab soups. The chunks of crab were nicely meaty.

Unfortunately, the Caesar salad wasn't quite as satisfying. The dressing was laid on a bit too thickly and weighed down the rest of the salad, both in taste and in volume. If you choose to order this dish, definitely request the dressing on the side.

Some final notes to consider: Cafe Montmartre has a nice bar should you ever feel like coming by for a quick drink. And on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, the restaurant also offers a small Vietnamese lunch menu. A French cafe that's culturally open-minded. I like that.

-- Jen Chaney