Judging Restaurants – La Fourchette

Given it’s Bastille Day, I thought I’d go with a French restaurant. La Fourchette is located at 2429 18th St, NW. La Fourchette also seems to have a crowd which I take as a good sign. Any fans out there? If so, any must order items? Also how are the prices?

And of course, Happy Bastille Day! French Maid races might be particularly interesting in the rain…

16 Comment

  • brunch is, eh, how you say, pretty bon. howevvverrr, the service is very much like in la france, terrible.

    • Agreed. TERRIBLE service. I was once yelled at by a server for asking her for the check, after we had been waiting for her to reappear for a good 30 minutes after we finished our brunch (which was pretty good, btw).

      • oof. I can deal with European-style service, but getting yelled at for making a reasonable request is where I draw the line.

  • They used to have pretty good ostrich medallions. I don’t get there often but when I do the menu has a lot of interesting stuff, deliciously prepared.

  • Brunch is pretty good. The french toast was awesome. Bistro a La Bonne (13th and U) is a better.

  • the fork is terrific, very old-fashioned french cooking. Which means it might not be everyone, but for those that love such things, it can be wonderful … The sauces are primarily cream based, the vinagrette is really garlicky, the menu was seasonal in its presentation of specials long before Michael Pollan and others started improving the food world. The mainstays on the menu demonstrate precisely what I mean by old-fashioned — sweetbreads, poulet en croute (the ur-hot pocket), steak au poivre, and they make a great kir. Again, it’s not for everyone as it’s not light and definitely for a certain type of eater, but it’s a great example of the old-school that smart new chefs and food types want to emulate (and build on) with everything from gastro pubs to redone bistros. Good food, limited but nice wine list with price points that normal folks can hit (entrees $12 -$24?, apps 6$-$12), and something as distant as possible from caricatures of snooty french food. All that said, the service can be spotty, but it can also be perfect. As almost anyone who eats out in DC knows, great staff is hard to find and keep. The fork’s owners and its longtime wait staff (two guys that you will immediately recognize if you go there more than 2 times) are wonderful, but like almost any other reasonably priced place, you can go in on a crowded Saturday night and suffer through a bad service. To give it a fair shake, go there on a Tuesday or Thursday night when Adams Morgan is not flooded, order a special and get a carafe of the house whatever. Then see how you like it. I’ve sent multiple friends there that love food (and yeah, I’ve told them to go on a weeknight or for brunch) and they’ve generally given rave reviews.
    And no – I don’t work there or have anything to do with fourchette except for the fact my wife and I (and now our girls) have eaten there for years. I usually don’t write and just lurk, but fourchette has survived for nearly 3 decades on a street that’s sees establishments change almost monthly. It sets an example of how restaurants can survive. Charge a reasonable price for good food, stick to what you know, and develop a loyal client base. They have been underappreciated for years.

    • +1

      For more than three decades, by the way, gf, at this same address.

      La Fourchette restaurant started just a few years after the riots of 1968 at 2429 18th Street, NW when nobody wanted to be at 18th and Columbia Road, or what today we call Adams Morgan.

      Pierre Chauvet is a French Provencial classically trained chef. He was Katherine Graham’s chef before opening up his restaurant on 18th Street.

      Modest in his demeanor, Pierre has served six American Presidents and their families, Julia Child, the Archbishops of Washington, and so many other Washington luminaries and dignitaries over a lifetime.

      Jaqueline Kennedy Onasis would fly him to Hyannis Point special for her private dinner parties.

      His wife Jackie Chauvet is a wonderful and gracious hostess and an incredibly strong woman. You can see every morning with a garden hose washing away the mess that occurs in Adams Morgan after they close at 10 PM daily and in the winter she shovel the snow herself.

      They live above the store European style and they are a valuable asset in Adams Morgan while most others live elsewhere.

      Pierre can get a little drunk some nights as his bistro has over the years become surrounded by easy money bars unlike his sit down hard to make it fine dining establishment. He tells good stories and wears those collarless blue and white French pullovers.

      I await his cookbook.

      Jackie and Pierre Chauvet and their long time staff provide good French provincial cuisine at a reasonable price seven days a week. They close only on Christmas Day.

      They have endured all manner of adversity around them as they have seen what has come around them, now in their 4th decade at the very same address.

      I’m sure there are few who read this blog who have that consistent and remarkable work ethic.

      As for the food, it is consistent with the exact amount of olives in every Salade Nicoise every time you go. I will come back and write more later today about the fine food served there as duty calls and I have to work myself. To be continued…

      • Thanks for the detail. Been a loyal La Forchette diner for about a decade now. Adams Morgan hardly deserves such a fine establishment.

  • Well Put GF. The place is a Washington Treasure.

    LF was around when 18th St looked more like 11th St. I’ve taken French folks there who were blown off their feet with the food. I think the chef has a particular talent with fish and esp with Buerre Blanc -to die for. He was the chef at the French Embassy years ago. The place is more about the food than stylish decor – that is also a debate going on in France. Madame de la Fourchette is very charming and friendly, as were their sons in the day. I wish their local led more to a food-friendly experience. Agree with the midweek option, go don’t near Adams Morgan on wkends for food.

  • I like La Fourchette, it’s been a standby for an easy brunch for years and they are child friendly. Food beats The Diner with a stick.

  • I like the dinner better than the brunch. Brunch just has the same boring egg, waffle, blah that all DC brunches have. But dinner, is pretty darn good. As noted above, it is old fashioned french food. Service has always been pretty good. They are reasonably kid and dog friendly if your smaller mammals are reasonably well behaved.

    Been a while since I have gone (see above re small mammals). This makes me think I should head back soon.

  • The food at La Fourchette is delicious! They have a special menu on Tuesday nights if you’d like to eat a little more for a little less. Highly reccomend the artichoke and absolutely ANY fish dish.

  • Been for brunch and, like others have said, found it good but fairly standard. I’d go back for brunch if I need to be in the area for something else, but wouldn’t head out that way just to get brunch there. I’ve been wanting to try it for dinner though, especially now that I’m hearing such good things about it.

  • There is a coupon for 10% off the dinner at the fork running in the City Paper right now. Clip it out and go there!

  • …continued from 2:28 PM…

    Been to Citronelle on M Street in Georgetown and said to yourself, “I just paid what ! for one French meal ?” and then never go back.

    La Fourchette is good authentic French food at a reasonable price, very consistent, well prepared and they’re always open for lunch and dinner.

    There’s no French arrogance here.

    I always start with the house made Apple Wood Smoked Salmon which is just right on with the salt. As written above the Salad Nicoise is classic and done exactly the same as it was 30 years ago with that nice dressing.

    The Marinated White Anchovies over warm Potatoes, the White Beet Salad (really good) and the Pate Maison are other good appetizers I’ve had.

    Seafood is done well at La Fourchette, I like the Shrimps Provencale, Tilapia with Lobster Sauce, and the Seafood Crepes.

    There’s also Chicken Crepes with Mushroom Sauce, traditional Coco Vin, and Poulet en Croute (Chicken in Pastry).

    The Cassoulet and the Toulouse Sausages that Napoleon fed his armies with is hearty and stick to your ribs stew. I’ve never ordered but once had a bite of the Carre D’Asneau (Rack of Lamb) and didn’t have to chew it was so moist tender.

    Nice French painted murals inside, small sidewalk cafe outside.

    My only complaint all these years: the tables rock on uneven floors and a few of the portions can be small.

    But you can hear the person seated in front of you there in Adams Morgan
    with fresh flowers on white table cloths. Clean. Wholesome.

    Long established, staid, refreshingly untrendy.

    That’s it.

    Does Pierre get drunk ?

    Well, yes, but that’s part of draw, and not ’til late at night after serving up some darn good French cooking, lunch and dinner daily, every day of the year but Christmas, for everyone as Jackie helps him up the stairs home.

    You’ll feel very much at home, too at La Fourchette.

    Bon Apetit !

  • I always order the seafood crepe. It’s got a cream sauce and is always great. Haven’t had much else there.

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