Hours: Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday 11 a.m. to midnight; Saturday and Sunday 10:30 a.m. to midnight. Prices: Sandwiches $4.50 to $6.95; entrees $5.95 to $11.95. Cards: American Express, MasterCard, Visa.
There's a cheerfully schizoid insouciance about the name, and that's only the beginning.
New York deli booths tarted up with mauve cushions, legitimate theater posters in lucite and NCAA football on the giant projection screen, a menu that mentions marinated herring and matzo ball soup in the same breath with lobster-stuffed croissant and brochette of lamb -- it's a comedy of eras.
But dinner in Georgetown is street theater anyway, and from its vantage point at the crossroads, Cafe Broadway looks out on a constant parade of characters. And when you get past the bar to the dining booths, it's even better.
There are a few lapses, most noticeably a streak of cutesyness that leads to naming sandwiches and serving cocktails in brandy snifters. There is a slight hesitancy about spices, too: cold spiced shrimp, though tender, were fairly bland; and grilled lamb would have benefited from a dash of salt in the marinade.
But those are minor faults compared to the pleasure of an honest meal. This kitchen's ambition is versatility, not innovation. There's nothing too astonishing about fettucini with seafood, but this version -- mixed white, tomato and spinach pasta coated with a cream sauce so rich that the scallops and such were redundant -- is such forthright indulgent stuff as dreams are made on.
And there's little suspense about a sirloin steak, except that it's prime quality, grilled and not ironed to death, perfectly trimmed and cooked. And considering the milquetoast quality of so much restaurant meat these days, its tender muscularity is a sensual shock. Lamb brochette is sirloin, too. Lean squares marinated in olive oil and thyme are cooked to order as rare as you like -- another pleasant surprise.
All these are part of the regular menu, but the daily specials are good bets, too. As an appetizer, a delicate lobster cocktail -- tender pieces of fresh steamed meat in a light mayonnaise and mounded over ripe avocado -- was generous enough for a light entree. Sauteed trout with mushrooms in a lemon butter sauce was just a little too slick (a last splash of vermouth would have helped), but it was literally sauteed, not fried, and flaky.
The shoestring fries are excellent, crisp and dry; the mini-loaves of bread are doughy but flavorful. One day's lentil soup was very good, pungent without the lentils having been cooked to sponge; but on another night the cream of cauliflower had been pureed to applesauce.
Sandwiches are major productions: almost all are three-decker club-sized ("triple balcony" style) and named, somewhat arbitrarily, for various actors and plays. Dustin Hoffman, not Tom Conti, gets credit for the Reuben here; Richard Burton ennobles tuna salad with bacon and tomato; Elizabeth Taylor tops corned beef with swiss and slaw; Evita's is egg salad with anchovies (no wonder they're crying).
Dinner-sized salads also cover the spectrum: fruit with yogurt or sherbet; teriyaki-marinated chicken with cabbage and sprouts; pasta salad with veggies; a chef-style Broadway salad; and a rotini with seafood.
At least once, try to work in the chocolate terrine, a smooth, slick, bittersweet sin worthy of an encore.