The grandiose Wisconsin Avenue, what with it’s modern art galleries and upscale boutiques, seems to be the perfect location for Cafe Bonaparte, an ornate French cafe that specializes in upscale breakfast dining. Humility is nowhere to be found in the tiny restaurant, whose offerings have been captivating diners since it opened in 2003. Cafe Bonaparte earned it’s spot in Round Two by hauling in a whopping 41 points, beating out Kafe Leopold in the European leagues. With high hopes, and very empty stomachs, my dining partner and I headed there to see what this self-proclaimed “Parisian creperie” had to offer.
Atmosphere, Originality and Service
Upon arrival to Cafe Bonaparte, rushing to escape the brisk Sunday morning air, my dining guest and I were disappointed to hear that, despite calling in early, we had to wait for a table. Luckily, our wait did not lastlong, and we were quickly seated by a kind, apologetic hostess. Our waitress also was very friendly and attentive to our needs.
The layout of the restaurant is a bit tight, as it is in many tiny Georgetown restaurants. The cafe’s small tables are packed together a bit too close for comfort. Even though you might find yourself bumping elbows with or unknowingly eavesdropping on other patrons of the cafe, I didn’t find this to be too much of an issue during my dining experience.
My dining guest and I found the overall atmosphere of the restaurant to be quite pleasant. A large window pleasantly filled the small space with gentle, warming light. This, coupled with the restaurant’s elegant decor accents, like the granite countertops of its bar, the deep red of its awnings and curtains, and the black and white photos that line the walls, provide a generally agreeable meal background.
Diversity of Menu
Cafe Bonaparte markets itself as primarily a creperie and coffeehouse. But while there is a menu specifically designated for crepes, desserts, and drinks, they also serve a fairly wide variety of fares for breakfast and brunch. Most of these are traditional brunch standards with a slight twist, usually an additional ingredient or two or served inside of a crepe.
I chose to order the “Renoir Crepe,” which included scrambled eggs, Italian sausage, green peppers, and onions. My dining guest ordered the “Salmon Benedict,” which placed poached eggs, smoked salmon and hollandaise sauce inside of an english muffin. Both of us received seasoned home fries and fruit with our entrees. We also ordered a french press of the “Pacific Blend” for coffee and the “Montpellier” crepe, which included caramelized apples and was topped with cinnamon, pistachios and whipped cream, for dessert.
Presentation of dishes is clearly valued at Cafe Bonaparte. Each dish we ordered arrived beautifully constructed and intentionally plated. While most of these arrangements were not extremely unique, each was pleasant and thoughtful. For example, our side of fruit was served not on a bowl, as you might expect, rather on a skewer. This was a nice touch that added a bit a flair and style to what was ultimately just some fruit, but it was not necessarily something that I have never seen before.
Our meal began with the “Pacific Blend” of coffee, served out of a French press for two. The blend, which boasted beans from Sumatra, was a delicious dark roast and adequately stimulated my dining companion and I in preparation for our main courses.
The “Renoir Crepe” was decent, featuring a tasty filling that found the precarious balance between the individually delicious eggs, sausage, peppers and onions. The crepe, topped with swiss and cheddar cheese, added an extra needed crunch to complement the dish. The “Salmon Benedict,” however, was excellent, featuring a perfectly poached egg, light and creamy hollandaise sauce, and a toasted English muffin. The sides for both dishes were adequate, though the seasoned home fries were not quite crunchy enough for my taste. Our dessert, the “Montpellier Crepe” was the highlight of the meal, featuring a perfect blend of textures in the crepe: apples and whipped cream, accented with cinnamon and pistachios.
Food Price and Value
Prices at Cafe Bonaparte are a bit steep, but don’t stray too far from Georgetown norms. With the 2 entrees, dessert, coffee and tip, our meal cost just over $50, too expensive considering I left the restaurant less full than I had hoped.
Cafe Bonaparte boasts great food and a enjoyable experience at a somewhat reasonable cost. Certainly worth visiting, especially if you believe a mornings is just not the same without a crepe.
Diversity of Menu: 8
Brunch Bracket Update: Cafe Bonaparte, with a total of 37 points in the second round, has lost out to Martin’s Tavern, which earned a total of 39 points last week. Martin’s Tavern will advance to the third round of the Brunch Bracket.