Family Weekend and Restaurant Guide: French bistro emits relaxed atmosphere

Caf? La Ruche is a small French bistro located in Georgetown on 31st Street by the canal that offers dining both inside and outside.

Far away from the busy streets and crowded sidewalks, outdoor patio dining is the main draw to Caf? La Ruche. It is rare to find good outside dining in the city, and with Georgetown’s canal setting, the pleasant music and decorations, it is easy to forget that one is in D.C. and not Paris.

Caf? La Ruche has a wide variety of French cuisine. In addition to the usual appetizers – salads, soups and entr?es – the restaurant also offers sandwiches, quiche and Swiss fondue. The Swiss fondue makes for a great group appetizer – the melted Swiss cheese compliments the French bread. Entr?es include salmon, mussels, chicken, steak and duck.

Most entr?es range from $10 to $16, quiche is about $8 and sandwiches cost $7 to $9. While Caf? La Ruche is more expensive than other French alternatives in Georgetown, its quality food makes up for the extra strain on the wallet. The restaurant does have an early-bird special that allows diners to escape typically high Georgetown prices.

The first time we ate there, we were not impressed by the food nor the service. Both the Caesar salad and the Chicken Cordon Bleu lacked anything redeemable in terms of flavor.

The slice of Brie cheese with apple slices and fresh bread for dessert were the highlight of the night. This traditional French desert is a pleasant departure from sweet deserts. On top of the mediocre food, the service was poor. The waiter was very pleasant, but he did not speak English.

This time around, however, the experience was much improved. We started off with calamari that was light and crispy – the way it should be. Most people have become so accustomed to sub-par calamari that they think it is supposed to be chewy.

The baked salmon dinner was surprising pleasant. The chocolate banana tart ended the meal well and put a positive spin on the entire dining experience. Our server had a complete English vocabulary, and was amiable.

Caf? La Ruche is a viable alternative to the normal M Street fare. The food is adequate, but leaves a little to be desired considering the price. Although meals are a little pricey, Caf? La Ruche is worth a try if you are looking for something a little different.

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