I generally avoid reviewing places in cities that I live in. There are a few reasons. First, I’m a jerk and don’t want my favorite spots to get so overwhelmingly popular that I can no longer get a seat. Second, honestly, I still consider the mean quality level of offerings in DC to be so far behind other cities that there’s just no point. There are exceptions, and consider this the first instalment of my reformation.
This is my new jam. The owners Aude and François-Yann Buisine hail from northern France. At this point, I have never seen anyone working the counter but the two of them. Aude always greets me with a warm, smiley “bonjour” and does not reserve the warmth only for me. The space lends itself well to the reading of books and the writing of things that do not require internet connectivity. That translates to a blessed lack of laptop-clogged tables with clickety-clacking self-important millennial types doing their startup gigs. Instead, you hear conversations, enjoy soft, elegant seating, and Illy brand espresso drinks made with care and a glaring lack of hollered, mispronounced names.
But what of the baked goods? They make a range of exquisite-looking pasties and deserts, but I can only vouch for the non-sweets. Listen: the plain butter croissants are the best I have had since the DuPont Circle Farmer’s Market made the monumentally stupid decision to chase Baltimore’s Bonaparte bakery out of their market (I have never gone back since this move – anything else I ever bought there was simply by virtue of its proximity to Bonaparte’s luscious wares). These croissants compare favorably to anything you will find in Paris, Lyon, Nice, or beyond. The brioche has the dense but airy consistency that I want from a brioche. In a word, both the croissants and the brioche are a perfect “A” note.
Epilogue: after my summer away, there now is more counter help, WiFi, and a bustling trade. At least I know they won’t be closing soon. Thus far, the quality has not dropped off one bit!
Un Je Ne Sais Quoi, 1361 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036