Essential DC, Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Food

We Love Food: Et Voila!


People look at me quizzically when I tell them that one of my favorite restaurants in DC is in the Palisades. Most people give me a little head tilt and say, “I don’t know where that is?” “Yeahhhhh,” I always sigh. “It’s above Georgetown, towards the Potomac. Totally inaccessible, but I SWEAR OMG it is worth the trip up there for Et Voila!”

I’m sorry I’ve kept it to myself this long… I’ve uh…been busy and stuff. Plus the restaurant is super tiny, and if you knew how good it is, you’d be there filling up my seat. Call me selfish, whatever, I can take it. But I’ve finally cracked and the secret is out: Et Voila! is delicious, unpretentious Belgian food, and you should go. Don’t have a car? Get yourself a Zipcar, grab your bike out of hibernation, strap on the rollerblades, call up your ex, do whatever it takes. Even (gasp) take the D6 bus! I mean business.

So all this gushing, but you’re sitting there staring at your computer screen asking what IS Et Voila!, exactly? Located along Macarthur Boulevard, this French/Belgian gem doesn’t look like a whole heck of a lot from the outside. But once inside, I always feel like I’m in London, or even Paris. The wait staff speaks almost exclusively French, and the close, cozy interior always has a buzz about it.

Chef Claudio Pirollo and Pastry Chef Mikael Cornu have built an accessible menu full of well executed classics. Et Voila!’s Web site quips, “Chef Pirollo was named “Best Young Chef in Belgium” in 1994 and served as the personal chef to the Irish Ambassador for the past six years.” And not for naught. The menu, full of staples like mussels, french onion soup, foie gras, is in a word impeccable. The brunch menu isn’t to be taken lightly either – Belgian waffles, of course, but brunch favorites such as eggs benedict with smoked salmon, leek quiche and croque madame come out to play. The quiche has a flakey, buttery savory crust, and every detail right down to the cheese in the quiche shine through. Continue reading

The Features, We Love Food

We Love Food: Belga Cafe

Photo courtesy of
‘Brunch at Belga Cafe’
courtesy of ‘InspirationDC’

You guys, I’m torn here. On one hand, I genuinely like Belga Cafe. On the other hand, I’m unimpressed by Belga. Here’s the thing – whenever you say “I’m going to Belga” to someone they all oooh and ahhh. It’s got a fantastic reputation, and some of the food lives up to that reputation. But some of the food is worse than what I’d find on the line at the local Holiday Inn breakfast buffet. It’s a conundrum. But let me explain…

Belga Cafe is situated on 8th Street in the heart of Barracks Row. It’s a great location with foot traffic from Eastern Market and the surrounding neighborhoods and shops. Belga has a small but cozy patio, the outdoor seating complete with table cloths, and a slightly cramped long interior dining room. The kitchen is quasi-open, and the bar is usually full of diners. The place has a neighborhood feel, though I would say it’s known throughout the city as a brunch destination. And unfortunately, brunch is where I get tripped up with Belga. Continue reading