Not really an everyday type of restaurant, nor anywhere near my neighborhood, I got the suggestion for La Piquette from a reddit thread about the must-visit DC businesses. It came highly recommended by a ton of commenters, so I went ahead and booked it.
The inside has that typical, tried-and-true French vibe. You know, cursive-on-chalkboard menu, vintage wine advertisements, the whole shebang. The bread arrived immediately and we ordered a half liter of wine, which I am wholly unqualified to review. It was red, it had alcohol. The half liter sustained us almost the entire, leisurely meal.
We debated the relative merits of several appetizers before the server arrived to tell us that the daily special was butternut squash soup. That was a done deal. “Can we share a bowl?” I asked. “You could try,” he responded.
This is half a bowl, or at least that’s what they told us. I don’t know who is eating an entire bowl alone because not only was it huge, it was rich. Like, Jeff Bezos levels of rich, and just as smooth (I’m referring to Bezos’s shiny bald head, not any aspect of his abhorrent personality). The soup didn’t have the Christmasy flavor I’m used to with squash bisque. There’s no room for nutmeg when you need to add all that cream. Zero complaints here.
It was a bit of time before the entrees arrived. They’re keeping it real French over here. I had the duck a l’orange because of course. Let me tell you about this:
The duck: generously portioned, a perfect medium-rare, zero chewy fattiness, like a perfectly cooked steak, and with a light orange sauce, zero stickiness. But the real miracle is in the pomme puree. I am not a potato person. But I am a butter person. And I’m pretty sure this mash is clocking in at 70-80% butter. It had the texture of something that spent the night in the blender and coated the inside of my mouth.
Then there was my husband’s short rib. There aren’t words to describe the thick, heavy richness. The beef was spoon-worthy with a few savory, caramelized, crusty edges. It’s very safe to say that we walked out of La Piquette about six pounds heavier than when we’d walked in…
…or we would have, except my husband decided that we might as well get dessert, since, you know, we’d already consumed a quart of dairy each. I insisted on the cannelé, a special treat I was introduced to by a dear friend who spent two stints living in Bordeaux. They arrived before we even had the chance to unbutton our pants, but at least they were small.
Sadly, they were overcooked to the point of burned on the outside and lacked the puffy sponginess I’m used to. The creme anglais was drinkable but not good enough to save the dish.
Price: $70 per person.
Bottom line: Apart from dessert, La Piquette harnesses the power of butter and packs a richness that other French restaurants around town (Le Grenier comes to mind) can’t match. Come with an appetite and expect to never feel hungry again.