If a restaurant's introduction to a city depends on its name, then Bootsie, Winky and Miss Maud immediately should have aroused curiosity. The owners have done more than create an intriguing name -- they have created biographical sketches and mythical adventures for all three women.
There are no such women, but if there were, they would be at home in the setting. Artifacts line the walls, including hats of a bygone era and pictures spotlighting significant achievements in each character's life.
But don't assume this is just another gimmicky restaurant. Rather, this enterprise emphasizes how well a restaurant can present a limited number of items and give an esthetic touch to each entree. The same selections -- fewer than 10 altogether -- are available for both lunch and dinner. The emphasis on light meals regardless of the hour gives the restaurant the ambience of a cafe.
Using fresh purchases from the city's finest sources, workers in the small kitchen need actually do very little creating. Several daily specials supplement the regular menu items. There is always a fresh pasta, a quiche and a salad. Desserts change every few days and are tantalizingly appealing.
Although the restaurant is not much larger than many nearby cafes, it makes no attempt to duplicate the cafe mentality in which a customer is charged for bread and begs for water. Instead, at Bootsie you are greeted with an individual loaf of pumpernickel raisin bread served with sweet apricot butter. The instant hunger pangs that children often arrive with quickly subside with the sweetness of the butter.
Five appetizers supplement the main courses. On our dinner outing we sampled the homemade hummus ($1.95) and the escargot pie ($3.50). The chickpeas in the hummus had been pureed beyond recognition and only faintly seasoned. They easily could have pleased a young child who might otherwise disdain the selection, but there was not enough warmed pita for true romance.
The escargots were sorely lacking in garlic but overburdened with parmesan. They are a welcome choice and nicely presented inside a shell and garnished with watercress.
If your dinner appetite exceeds normal luncheon fare, you may suffer true mid-meal hunger pangs. Because the meals are light, the restaurant seems a perfect summertime retreat.
The children had no difficulty making a selection and willingly shared tastes from their large turkey and salmon platters. The smoked turkey sandwich with fresh avocado ($3.95) is a mountainous creation that features a freshly cut, perfectly ripe avocado that is best eaten as an accompaniment or the tower will topple. The turkey is unusual for Washington for it has the true Texas smoked taste.
The polo plate ($5.50) actually requires two plates: one for smoked salmon with scallion cream cheese and another for toasted bagels.
Everything is presented with a flair for detail. The spinach ceasar salad ($3.50) is a filling bowl of greens that are lightly tossed with dressing but amply supplied with freshly grated parmesan -- an overwhelming amount for many people.
My husband and I each selected a special. The chicken salad ($5.95) is accompanied with marinated zucchini slices. Large strips of chicken, celery and walnuts make up the adequate entree. The crab quiche ($5.95) is more like a pie as the custard-like quality of a quiche is lost in the circular individual portion. This entree is more attractive than it is tasty.
We decided to save desserts ($1.95) for another evening. There is a nice selection of teas and coffees to accompany dinner or dessert.
Our dinner for five, including a shared carafe of wine and sodas for the children, totaled $44.13 with tax and tip.
Hours: Monday through Friday, lunch from 11:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., dinner from 5:30 until 10:30 p.m. Dinner only on Saturdays. Closed Sundays. Atmosphere: Polished production. Price range: From $3.50 to (c) 6.95. Same menu for both lunch and dinner. Reservations: Advised. Credit cards: American Express, MasterCard and VISA. No checks. Special features: Entrance is several steps below street level. No high chairs or booster seats but will make suitable seating arrangements if notified in advance. Cold items available for carry-out.