2013 Fall Dining Guide
By Tom Sietsema
October 10, 2013
I never expected to fall in love with a foreign accent from another city, but that's what happened when Philadelphia restaurateur Stephen Starr launched this expansive French restaurant in Logan Circle in April. The house-baked baguettes come with an authentic crackle. The shellfish platter, arranged with a fan of mussels, sparkling scallop seviche and glistening Belon oysters, celebrates a treasure from the deep blue sea.
Le Diplomate, under the care of executive chef Adam Schop, executes a perfect omelet, an expert steak au poivre, a divine apple tart, everything delivered by some of the best servers in the city.
The catch? The stage set of a dining room is as noisy as a train station, and despite nearly 300 seats, reservations prove tough tickets. My advice: Bring ear plugs and aim for off hours. The roast chicken alone is worth the bother.
Le Diplomate has the right accent
By Tom Sietsema
Thursday, May. 2, 2013
The establishment isn’t even a month old, but already many of its 200 inside seats are claimed on a regular basis.
A newcomer with a lot of Gaul
By Tom Sietsema
Thursday, May 2, 2013
I recently spent three days eating around Paris, yet I can’t stop thinking about the food I dispatched before takeoff: at the new Le Diplomate in Logan Circle. In significant ways, the sweeping brasserie from Philadelphia restaurateur Stephen Starr speaks with a more convincing French accent than much of what I encountered abroad.
Starr’s 30th establishment isn’t even a month old, but already many of its 200 inside seats are claimed on a regular basis. Part of the allure is its design, which puts you in a Parisian frame of mind with a bakery’s worth of fresh breads on display, curved lipstick-red banquettes, golden lighting and a zinc-topped bar. The Garden Room, off the main dining area, lets you pretend you’re dining alfresco, thanks to a tented glass roof and shiny green tiles. (The French script on the wall translates as “the whitening of the shirts,” a reference to the dry cleaning service the building once housed.)
Less Gallic is the service: knowledgeable and brisk, genial and efficient.
Are competitors nervous? They ought to be. The garlicky steak frites at Le Diplomate alone is worth a detour. The beef is thick, ropy and juicy; the twice-fried french fries taste truly of potato.
There’s more where that came from. Foie gras “parfait” brings a fluffy scoop of emulsified chicken liver, foie gras, butter and spirits served with thick toasted brioche and a spread of prune and fennel on a slender board. The starter is tres bon. Grilled loup de mer comes with strips of silky-soft bell peppers that are so good, the grace note ought to be offered as a side dish. Plats du jour run from lavender roast duck (Monday) to Dover sole meuniere (Saturday, and count me in).
Only a small cast-iron pot of flat-tasting snails interrupts one night’s dream of a dinner, which ended with a light and lovely grapefruit sorbet dressed up with cinnamon whipped cream and lacy cookies.
Executive chef Adam Schop, 37, was one of a dozen cooks interviewed for the top job. He beat out three French chefs in the process.
Poor them. Lucky us. And good luck landing a table.