Price range: For "frunch," from $1.35 for a pastry to $3.50 for chicken supreme or a platter of assorted pates.
Hours: Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for "frunch," 6 to 11 p.m. for dinner. Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Closed Sunday.
Special facilities: Booster chairs, wheelchairs can be accommodated.
Reservations: Accepted for dinner only. Credit cards: Not accepted.
If brunch is a cross between breakfast and lunch, what is "frunch"? At the Bread Oven, a recently opened French restaurant, it is fresh pate in a flaky crust, a plate of assorted cheese, light French pastries and a wide choice of teas and coffees.
Unlike Washington's traditional Sunday brunch, this French-style "frunch" is served on Saturdays - from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The restaurant, located in one of the 19th Street area's many medical buildings, is spacious and sunny. A bar along one side of the room faces the large oven for which the restaurant is name. Customers can watch the bakers taking crisp, warm loaves out of the oven with wide wooden paddles. The bread and its cousins, the pastries - which are also sold to take out - are the stars of any frunch at the Bread Oven.
Fresh bread and pastries seemed like a good way to introduce two 7-year-old girls to French cuisine. Before our visit, I gave them a short lecture on the importance of food in French civilization.
Their eyes lit up when they saw the small tables set with white napkins and oversized goblets. But after struggling to drink Shirley Temples from the long-stemmed wine glasses, they decided that they would rather have "just glass glasses" after all.
The waitress gave us handwritten frunch menus. More helpful than the menu were samples of various platters displayed on the bakery counter near the bar.
Among the offerings were cold vichyssoise and gazpacho for $1.50 a cup; hot vol au vent or a seafood shell for $1.95; a portion of the pate du chef for $1.95, and platters of hors d'oeuvres or cheese for $1.95.
In most cases the servings were small. The cheese platter, for instance, had three or four slices of cheese and a handful of grapes.
After looking over the samples, both girls decided on the seafood shell, while I chose the pate en croute.
Before our order arrived, we were brought a basket of fresh bread that was so tasty we could not stop eating it. My daughter, Natasha, whose only previous contact with French food had been a croissant should be.
By the time she had started on her seafood shell, my daughter's friend - recalling my lecture - declared: "No wonder French people eat so much."
The creamed seafood - shrimp clams, scallops - served in a tinfoilshell was intelligently seasoned, but the combination was a bit too subtle for Natasha. Her friend Imoni carefully picked through hers, eating the things that looked familiar. Most of the unfamiliar morsels were left on the side of her plate.
I had no such problems with the pate en croute, a masterful combination of distinctive pate wrapped in a perfect pastry.
An impressive number of busboys hovered around us, refilling the bread basket as soon as it was emptied and giving us pats of sweet butter. The waitress was busy and hard to find. I sent the girls to seek her out in a far corner of the room to get our check.
We made a second trip to the bakery counter to choose our desserts. Imoni's mocha cake was a creamy combination of chocolate and coffee tastes and she ate every crumb. Natasha got an apricot tart with a relatively heavy pastry and ate mainly the apricots. My almond tart had an interesting blend of spices.
The check for our meal - including the Shirley Temples and orange juice and a capuccino for me - was $15.01. That did not include the two croissants that the girls asked to eat on the way home.
The Bread Oven is also open for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, offering different French entrees each day.