It was as if there were a direct line from our wishes to the gods of commerce. As we tasted our way through Washington's carryouts, recurrent flaws and common disappointments wove their way through our notes. Then towards the end, Fete Accomplie opened, accomplishing nearly everything we had hoped haute carryouts would accomplish. Its chicken salad -- with tarragon -- found that subtle balance between moistness and mayonnaise excess, its tarragon fresh and not too strong, its chicken beautiful white moist chunks that were permeated with flavor. Fete Accomplie's salmon pate tasted like salmon essence incorporated into cream. Its vegetable salads were bright in color, vibrant in flavor and firm but cooked through. Each dish looked plump and sumptuously pretty, and many of them tasted even better than they looked.
Scallop seviche -- now there's a dish we will long remember. It was fragrant with a refreshing touch of orange, in the most delicate of marinades to highlight and smooth-as-butter bay scallops. No less grand was rolled breast of veal stuffed with spinach, carrots and herbs that were surely fresh. If lamb stew sounds heavy, Fete Accomplie's will force you into a redefinition. But there were still flaws: the pasta salad had a nice crunch to its vegetables, but like most, left you with the impression of plowing your way through a lot of starch. Greek salad needed another dash of vinegar. Curried cauliflower was exciting for the first few bites, but overwhelming as more than a condiment. And cold beef salad with purple onions and pink peppercorms was perfect supple rosy meat but lacked any taste of dressing.
There is no doubt that Fete Accomplie's breads are home-baked; the bakery window has become the main entertainment of Macomb Street. The sourdoughs are very sour, particularly successful in the darker breads -- rye, for instance. And the cloverleaf rolls are tender and as buttery as brioche. Sweet breads like sticky buns and Danish pastries, and the coconut macaroons are good but not the outstanding productions that the rest of the selections tend to be. The trifle, for example, is layers of expertise, from the eggy custard to the fresh sliced peaches to the buttery and fine textured cake. And the brownies are a scrumptious paradox of rich and chocolatey taste with moist but light texture. We thought our mothers/grandmothers/friends/selves made the best brownies until we tasted these.
Prices at Fete Accomplie are moderate; we hope they stay that way. Issuances from the kitchen vary from day to day and from hour to hour, but they include soups, hors d'oeuvres (we hear rumors of a sensational smoked bluefish), entrees from lasagna to couscous, salads, vegetables and desserts. Sodium free and low calorie dishes are available, according to the shop's menu. A few packaged goods are on hand, the one to note being New York Ice sherbets (apple almond, grapefruit cassis and such, also available at Sutton Place Gourmet).
Fete Accomplie reeks of newness. So far, it is a place to buy the kind of home cooking you wish all your hosts would serve at dinner parties. Open 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mon. through Fri.; 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sat. Closed Sun. Moderate.