by Tim Regan June 8, 2015 at 11:05 am 0

It’s no secret the Borderstan area is home to some of the most popular restaurants in the city.

During last night’s RAMMY Awards, put on annually by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, six Borderstan-area restaurants took home awards:

Four of the night’s awards — Favorite Gathering Place, Upscale Casual Brunch, Everyday Casual Brunch and Favorite Fast Bites — were decided by the voting public.

For Bar Pilar co-owner Jonathan Fain, winning an award voted on by the public made the evening feel a little sweeter.

“It’s a big honor,” he says. “It’s nice to feel loved by the entire neighborhood.”

“This one is especially important because two years ago, we went through some really hard times and bounced back from it,” adds Fain. “We’re really excited to still be open.”

The night’s other big winners included Del Campo‘s chef Victor Albisu, who won Chef of the Year, and José Andrés and Rob Wilder, who shared a Restaurateur of the Year award for their collaboration on ThinkFoodGroup.

by June 7, 2013 at 9:00 am 2 Comments

From David McAuley. Email him at david[AT]


Ward  2 Councilmember Jack Evans. (Luis Gomez Photos)

DC Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) will come back to the heart of 14th Street to announce his candidacy for DC Mayor tomorrow morning, Saturday, June 8. Then he’ll be hanging around to participate in the Capital Pride Parade, the culminating event of Capital Pride Week, according to Evans’ Facebook page.

Go ahead and get your picture taken with him – you know you want to do it.

Evans-spotting: Where to Go

Evans’ official declaration will take place at 10am in front of newly-opened Le Diplomate Restaurant at 14th and Q Streets NW. Evans has said the choice of location highlights the renaissance of the Logan Circle area.

The Capital Pride Parade will start at 4:30pm at the corner of P and 22nd Streets. It is expected to last three hours. The end point will be at R and 14th Streets.

Evans and the Local Issues

Evans has a long history of ties to the area. His most recent City Council campaign was headquartered was at 1402 14th Street NW, near the corner of Rhode Island Avenue.

In 2012, Evans opposed the proposed closing of Garrison Elementary School at 1200 S Street. In January 2013, the decision was reversed. Evans is also on record as supporting the prompt and complete renovation of the school, which is currently in search of funds in the city budget.

Well-known local landmarks like the P Street Whole Foods, the Washington Convention Center, the Watha T. Daniel Library and the future City Market at O Street in Shaw were established with Evans’ help and influence.

More recently, Evans declared his opposition to the proposed U Street liquor license moratorium in a letter to the DC Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.

Other announced candidates for DC Mayor include Councilmembers Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) and Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6). Current DC Mayor Vincent Gray and Councilmember David Catania are rumored to be pondering a run as well.

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by April 25, 2013 at 12:00 pm 2,179 7 Comments

From Dito Sevilla. Email him at dito[AT], follow him on Twitter @DitoDC.

"Le Diplomate"

Le Diplomate at 14th and Q NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Earlier today I took a rare moment to visit Yelp to take a peek at what the irrelevant set were saying about a restaurant that opened just two weeks ago — and only officially opened April 15.

Surprisingly, by their accounts, Le Diplomate is off to a great start here in DC. The users of Yelp, or “Yelpers,” as they’re known, have treated the restaurant with the restraint, patience and the respect an adopted French newborn deserves.

Le Diplomate can feel very proud of an average rating of just over 4 stars — a dream rating for anything found on Yelp. As time passes the restaurant will enter its stride, find it’s niche, and those 4 stars will surely hold strong.

DC’s picky diners will come to understand what those in Philadelphia, New York, New Jersey and Florida long ago embraced — that Stephen Starr is a force, that his restaurants succeed, and that he may know just what he is doing a little better than we do.

The Unhappy and Never Satisfied

Then again, tucked among the restrained praise of 4 and 5 star reviews, are the grenades lobbed by the unhappy and the never satisfied — which do a better job illustrating the reviewer’s awkward life experiences than the restaurant, dry cleaner or CVS in question. Here are some choice excerpts:

“Bob” from Baltimore, 2 stars for Le Diplomate brunch:

“Pros: Great job on the interior decor. Cons: Went for morning brunch on 4/21 and arrived 9:50 am and waited inline to get in. The atmosphere was chaotic (arranging tables, no wait staff to sit customers etc). A group of about 15 customers just milling at the entrance after giving their names waiting to be seated. Eventually around 10:15 waitstaff{sic}show up and start seating people. Although I requested a table in the atrium area I was not seated there and was taken to the back.”

Let’s see, the restaurant doesn’t even open until 10 am, and you were there at 9:50 am. You “waited inline{sic} to get in…”  So, you were early, and there were already other people waiting ahead of you. Perhaps next you should blame them because you had trouble parking — or because there was traffic on the drive down from Baltimore.

Chaotic atmosphere, a group of 15 milling around, giving names, arranging tables. How dare they! Really, on their first ever brunch, where they are bombarded by people who arrived early, asked to seat an entire sidewalk of diners at once? They were arranging tables? You mean they didn’t know where each and every person should be seated? I can’t imagine. Total fail.

And then, after the 15-minute wait, which must have felt like an eternity, you were seated in “the back!” Unable to sit in the section you self labeled as “the atrium,” and relegated to an area with available seating?  The horror.

But that’s not all. Life has bigger problems for this Charm City Yelper,  he was none too happy with the oldest takeout scam in the book:   Missing Shrimp.

“Tom” from Baltimore, 1 star for a Chinese restaurant:

“Such a scam! 12 bucks for shrimp with garlic, 5 tiny shrimp with tons of onion peppers and fillers. Stay away”

Heavens, what is the restaurant up to? TWELVE DOLLARS for five tiny shrimp? “Tons of onions, peppers, and fillers!” Oh no, my readers! Expect at least a pound of thumb sized, hand-cleaned, wild-caught, organic gulf shrimp for $12!  Did it come with rice? I bet the owner even went so far to add FIVE CENTS for the takeout bag.  The thief! Over on W Street NW, things just weren’t going “Dick’s way either…

“Dick” from Baltimore, 2 stars for an upscale fast food restaurant:

“Went here last night and ordered a wrap with shrimp to go. Got home and there was not a single shrimp. Very disapointed.” (sic)

Not a single shrimp. It must have at least lived up to it’s name, and been fast and gourmet (minus the lack of shrimp).

Last night, I asked my friend, fellow blogger, and DC radio legend, “Why do you like Yelp so much?”

Without pausing to think, she said, “It’s so great, I mean, it’s the fastest way to see if a restaurant is open, the hours are right there, and you can click to call the number.”

“And the reviews?” I wondered.

“Who has time for that? I just need to know what time they close.”

Hers was the first Yelp review I found useful.

By all means keep yelping, but most of us have stopped reading.

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by April 22, 2013 at 12:00 pm 0

"Le Diplomate"

Le Diplomate is truly French. (Laetitia Brock)

From Laetitia Brock. Email her at laetitia[AT] You can follow her at @FrenchTwistDC and on her own blog, French Twist DC.

The writers here at Borderstan have been tracking the progress at Le Diplomate pretty much since it was announced that Stephen Starr was taking over the former Laundromat building at the corner of 14th and Q NW. Well, it’s finally here!

The 260-seat brasserie soft opened last week and it’s been swamped every night. We’re talking a good hour wait unless you show up right at 6 pm (or even better managed to get reservations). That didn’t stop me from stopping by twice last week to check it out.


The patio on Q Street. (Laetitia Brock)

So far my first impressions are really positive and Le Diplomate gives out a truly authentic French vibe. I guess you could argue that it’s easier to get it right when you have the full weight of a large restaurant group like Starr Restaurants behind you, but Cuba Libre shows that it’s doesn’t always work out.

Oh, and it helps, of course, that Stephen Starr already owns a very successful French restaurant, Parc, in Philadelphia. But let’s get back to Le Diplomate.

The Space: Bright, Open, Spacious

Starting with the space. I’m not a fan of the very scantily clad ladies on the walls of the women’s restroom (if I want to see boobs, I have two of my own.) The men’s restroom has pictures of half-naked women. So why can’t the women’s restroom have pictures of half-naked men, like Estadio, for example? But that’s pretty much the only negative.


Kronenbourg on tap. (Laetitia Brock)

The restaurant is bright, open and spacious, with a large bar area and a great patio. I love, love, love the Ricard tables, though I don’t love the $10 price tag on a glass of a pastis as much (in France, it’s more like €2). I love the bistro style tables on 14th Street, and can’t wait to sit there, a cup of La Colombe coffee in hand, reading Le Monde (they have copies of international newspapers and gossip magazines inside) and munching on a croissant once Le Diplomat starts breakfast service soon.

And I adore the “blanchisserie de chemise” (that’s French for laundromat) green room. What a nice way to pay hommage to the building’s previous life!

The Food: Spot On

Now let’s talk about the important stuff: the food. So far everything I’ve had has been spot on. I had to ask for extra bread (the bread is really good by the way) to soak up all the flavorful broth from the moules frites. I pretty much cleaned out the little dish of homemade mayonnaise. It’s so rich but so good.

I devoured the steak frites AND the hand-chopped steak tartare. I believe you can tell a lot about a restaurant by its raw meat, especially when it’s topped by a raw (quail) egg. I loved tasting the lamb shank and the tête de cochon and I can’t wait to try more!


Steak Frites. (Cecile Remington)

So far, I haven’t felt like trying any of the desserts. I’ve just had the most amazing Cherry Clafouti at Café du Parc the other day, and quite frankly, my sweet tooth and I have pretty high expectations when it comes to French desserts.

Crème brûlée, tarte tatin, baba au rhum, pot de crème, those are all pretty typical French bistrot desserts but they seem a little basic to me and I want something different. I’ve seen their pastry chef post some pretty pictures on twitter though, so I have hope there’s more coming…

The Drinks

If I’m not impressed with the dessert menu, I do love the wine, beer and cocktail selection. The wine list isn’t too intense or long, but there’s something to pair with every dish on the menu as well as carafes of house wine (from La Vieille Ferme). There’s also original cocktails with French names that are kinda hard to pronounce but sound really fancy.

I mean, who wants to order a pressed grapefruit or a head to head when you can ask for a pamplemousse pressé and a tête-à-tête? It would help though if they could train the staff to understand them when people like me pronounce them with French accents.

Finally, I love that they have Kronenbourg en tap, pastis and coffee from La Colombe Torrefaction. Like Stephen Starr, La Colombe’s homebase is Philadelphia, though the owners (a Frenchman and an American) met in Seattle. They too will be expanding into the D.C. market soon when they open a coffee shop at the end of the year at 922 N Street NW, next door to Rogue 24. I’m looking forward to that, too!

I headed back to Le Dipomate for brunch on Sunday so I might have some updates. In the meantime, have you been to Le Diplomate yet? If yes, what did you have? What did you think?

A true French experience.  (Laetitia Brock & Cecile Remington)

A true French experience. (Laetitia Brock and Cecile Remington)

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by March 26, 2013 at 10:00 am 0

From Kathryn Ciano. Follow her on Twitter @katciano. Email her at  kathryn[AT]

"Le Diplomate"

Le Diplomate’s beautiful neon sign. (Luis Gomez Photos)


Leather and wood inside Le Diplomate. (Kathryn Ciano)

Le Diplomate, a French restaurant coming to 14th and Q Streets NW, will be open soon and is taking reservations, starting April 12.

Opening day comes after two years of development work and many demolition dollars that were used to repurpose the old laundromat at 14th and Q Streets.

The long-anticipated restaurant went through a lengthy liquor license application and laundromat demolition.

Stephen Starr’s Le Diplomate will seat 260 diners and serve lunch, brunch and dinner. The menu will be a hybrid of traditional bistro dishes and contemporary selections, paired with cocktails and wines.

Le Diplomate will also have a patio, just in time for spring.

Inside, red leather booths and authentic French furniture — some of it actually imported from Paris — decorate the space. The efficient, light-wood interior all bring to mind a railroad dining car (or one smoldering cigarette shy of the perfect Parisian café).

To make reservations, call 202-332-3333 between 10 am and 6 pm.

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by February 20, 2013 at 8:00 am 0


Le Diplomate soon to open at the corner of 14th and Q Streets NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Rachel Nania. Check out her blog, Sear, Simmer & Stir. Follow Nania on Twitter @rnania, email her at rachel[AT]

Fourteenth Street will soon be home to another restaurant, Le Diplomate, set to open in March at 1601 14th Street NW.

The 260-seat French restaurant from Stephen Starr will serve brunch, lunch and dinner and will have patio seating for the promise of warmer days ahead. The menu will focus on classic French cuisine and will include items such as steak frites and poulet roti. Of course, there will also be a selected list of wines and a variety of cocktails.

Stay tuned for more information on the opening date and menu for Le Diplomate.

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