This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Max McCrory.
Le Diplomate is a quintessentially French restaurant nestled in the corner of 14th and Q streets NW in the hip Logan Circle neighborhood. It opened in 2013 with red leather booths, a well-trained staff and an extensive menu.
Le Diplomate aims to educate the D.C. diner on the delights of French food. Menu items such as their perfectly crafted cheese board ($6 per cheese), delectable steak frites ($28.50) and their cheesy French onion soup ($12.50) do just that, while also creating the classic French brasserie experience.
A delicious, but often overlooked, dish on the menu is the soft and warm cheese gougères ($9). They are made in a similar way to biscuits, but when baked their center is hollow. Gruyère, a creamy French cheese, is mixed right in with the dough and adds the perfectly sweet yet salty flavor to the otherwise plain pastry dough. Nutmeg is sprinkled into the dough to give it a nutty flavor that complements the gruyère well.
When you first bite into this cheese pastry, it is incredibly light and airy – something you don’t often get with biscuits. The cheese’s distinct flavor and the rich pastry dough, or “le pate a choux,” as the French call it, create the perfect dish. Le Diplomate tops theirs with fleur de sel, which is French sea salt, and it rounds the dish out nicely.
It can be hard to snag a reservation at Le Diplomate, whether it’s for brunch, lunch or dinner. But never fear – cheese gougères can be found at a number of D.C.’s French restaurants, including Central Michel Richard located in the Penn Quarter neighborhood.