310-A Commerce St., Occoquan 690-5952 Hours: Breakfast, 8 to 11 a.m. daily; lunch, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily; dinner, 5 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday and Monday. Prices: Appetizers and soups $2.05 to $4.95, entrees $7.95 to $18.95. Cards: American Express, Visa, MasterCard. Nonsmoking area available if requested with reservation.
The streets of historic Occoquan are lined with quaint buildings and small shops selling everything from fudge to antiques. One of the buildings, the former Occoquan Elementary School built in the early 1800s, has been converted into a full-service restaurant with more menus (five, at last count) than it has rooms (three).
French-born owner/chef Francoise Floege has designed separate menus for dinner, breakfast, Sunday brunch, lunch and a champagne dinner offered nightly except Saturday.
The dinner menu fits nicely with the simple surroundings: plain hardwood floors, a mix of colonial and early American furnishings, and artwork on loan from local shops and galleries.
The kitchen's culinary signature is the puff pastry -- light and buttery -- which appears in various entrees.
The food is generally well-prepared, with quality ingredients and attractive presentations.
For starters is a crab soup with a fair amount of crab meat in a vegetable broth teeming with peas, carrots and potatoes. The soup du jour one evening was a rich cream of broccoli.
Additional offerings include some familiar appetizers, such as warm brie with almonds, an acceptable pate maison, and large escargot Bourgogne loaded with a powerful mix of chopped parsley and garlic.
The dinner salad is made of crisp, curly leaf lettuce tossed with a vinaigrette.
As for the entrees, there are several good seafood choices, including lightly sauced crepes filled with chunks of crab meat and shrimp and topped with a thin layer of Swiss cheese; sweet scallops in a puff pastry shell, and the lobster Wellington, tender chunks of lobster meat wrapped in puff pastry.
The chicken Normandy was like a refined pot pie with its airy layers of puff pastry. The dish comes with a tasty mushroom sauce, but my chicken had a strong, unpleasant flavor.
The fresh catfish fillet wasn't bad except that the advertised beer batter coating was virtually nonexistent.
A tableful of assorted desserts displayed at the entrance are made at Tackett's Mill Deli and Bakery. My favorite was the tangy cranberry/apple tart. Other good but not great choices were the chocolate mousse cake, pumpkin cheesecake and chocolate torte.
Although there are a number of winning dishes, there are also a few signs of inattentiveness: Side dishes of zucchini and potatoes were overcooked, some dishes had cooled before reaching the table, and our wine glasses appeared with water spots.
Note: During January, when the owner/chef is in France, dinner will be served only on Friday and Saturday nights. The normal dinner schedule will resume Feb. 1.