As someone who has incredibly fond memories of Paris, especially all of the amazing food eaten in dark, cozy, candlelit restaurants filled with the loud hum of laughter and people speaking in french, walking into Le Diplomate on dark rainy evenings, feels just right. When you first walk in your eyes have to adjust to the dim lighting and take in how large the restaurant is on the inside. It’s generally very busy, even on weeknights, and is filled with all sorts of people bonding over delicious cheese boards, wine carafes and mussels. Both times I’ve come to Le Diplomate I’ve been struck by the warmth the restaurant has and you feel almost tucked in when seated at your table.
The first time I came here was a really special occasion as it was in celebration of my then, new job at UVA. I was still living in Arlington at the time and when I found out the exciting news on a Thursday, my amazing boyfriend drove up from Charlottesville that same night and took me to Le Diplomate. This was nearly 2 years ago now so I don’t remember as much about the meal as I do just being overwhelmed with joy that I had a new job, would get to move back to my college town and get to live with Adam! I do remember though how good the French Onion soup was, completely covered by crispy melted cheese and causing me to eat it at an alarming rate. I’m pretty sure there was also a savory, fall apart duck dish involved, as Adam and I have a rule if duck is on the menu, one of us will get it. It’s a good rule of thumb- I highly recommend it.
This last trip to Le Diplomate was more recent so much more fresh in my mind, basically confirming everything I vaguely remember about the first visit- delicious, luxurious and a total treat. I went with my good friend, life advice person and #1 dinner date- Shruti, and we treated this dinner like a full on date night splurge. We went all out ordering cocktails, a cheese board, entree’s and dessert and I did a little bit of a better job documenting it this go round.
The cocktails were delicious. Annoyingly I can’t remember what mine was called, but it had all of my favorite things in it and is definitely going to be replicated at home. Vodka, St. Germain, rosemary simple syrup and fresh grapefruit juice, garnished with a piece of grapefruit and rosemary sprig. Sign me up!
Next comes the cheeseboard. We had a very knowledgeable waiter who offered up some suggestions once he rattled off 10 different cheese options. Shruti and I settled on a creamy brie, a crumbly goat cheese and a hard cows milk cheese, closest to cheddar. Plus, combined with the sliced apples, candied nuts and fruit jams, it’s hard to go wrong.
My entree was definitely my absolute favorite part of the meal. I got the Veal Escalope that was served with chanterelle mushrooms, charred spring onions and a mushroom cream sauce. Basically that means thin veal cutlets sautéed in a cream mushroom sauce topped with more mushrooms and spring onions. OMG. Like I said, this was a real treat yourself meal.
I eat veal once every 5 years maybe and while I know it’s far from the most humane… it is seriously delicious. Also, as some of you may know I just recently started liking mushrooms and apparently I’m just really going for it. But I loved this big time so I guess I am totally over that weird mushroom disliking phase of my life. I know your proud Mom.
Admittedly I was so busy shoveling my dinner in my mouth I only had a bite of Shruti’s but it was equally as delicious and definitely one of Le Diplomate’s most popular dishes. The Steak Frites aka Steak and fries. But this was no regular steak and fries. The steak, hard to see behind the massive pile of perfectly crispy string shoe fries, was herb roasted and smothered in a lemon, herb compound butter. It was the perfect medium rare and totally hit the spot.
We wrapped up the meal with another round of our beloved cocktails and split the milk chocolate pot de crème, a super creamy chocolate french custard topped with crème fraîche. Despite our massive meal Shruti and I devoured dessert and have no pictures to show for it- but I can assure you it was worth every bite. Yes- we then promptly had to rush home to change into comfy clothes and lay on the couch but had zero regrets for our cozy rainy tasty Friday night.
So, the next time you’re wanting to be transported to a french cafe lit by flickering tea lights on the streets in Paris, and eat some delicious, classic dishes, Le Diplomate is the place to go.
Comment below with your favorite Le Diplomate dishes or other recommended French spots! I’d love to try more out!