This month marks 20 years since Lynne and Raymond Campet opened up La Côte d’Or Café and brought a bit of la vie française from Raymond’s home country to the Washington, D.C. suburbs. In the restaurant’s two-decade run, it has garnered praise by way of glowing reviews and spots on top restaurant lists, as well as a devoted following among local gourmets who even on a weekday night find their way to the corner of Lee Highway and Westmoreland Street for its French cuisine. Now, the local restaurant is inviting the community to celebrate its 20th anniversary with a champagne dinner and discounted $20 three-course weekday dinner specials that may turn deal seekers into the next generation of restaurant supporters.
For those unable to attend the $45 black-tie-optional anniversary dinner Saturday, or whose tastes aren’t quite met by the revolving dinner specials of the day, the everyday menu offers both a broad range of French fare, as well as a glimpse at the type of food that has kept this restaurant in business for so long.
Escargot, crêpes, and more await, but first comes bread. Warm, crusty slices of French bread with pads of butter are served immediately and replenished as desired. A glass of wine is a common next addition to the table throughout the dining room. The ambiance is elegant, but not buttoned-up. High-backed wooden chairs fill the narrow dining room, situated around tables with fresh flowers and candle-lit lamps. Such accents are joined by wine bottle-decorated fabric across booths and an extensive collection of miniature roosters perched on shelves and in cabinets – a nod undoubtedly to the restaurant’s logo, a red rooster with an arching blue fish at foot. Waiters donning long aprons and ties offer amiable service, some coupling the presentation of a dish with a “voilà” or “bon appétit.”
Salads and hors d’oeuvres begin the meal. Among the latter is the Escargot de Bourgogne ($8.95), an order of which brings the rosy-shelled escargot, six in all, to the table. The meat concealed within is herb-sprinkled and tender, fragrant with garlic and heavy with the taste of butter.
For entrées, the “Oeufs et Crêpes” offerings are most affordable, ranging in price from the $13.25 quiche to the $16.95 seafood crêpes. The Wild Mushroom variety ($14.95) offers a pair of the thin crêpes stuffed with slices of wild mushroom, creating a robust flavor that stands up to the melted cheese in the dish.
Among available entrées is an assortment of frites platters – served with steak, mussels, or lamb sausage, each accompanied by a helping of crispy, thin-sliced French fries. In the Merguez-Frites ($20.95), a few grilled lamb sausages are highlighted, the small sausages zesty with a potent heat that grows as it lingers on the tongue.
One would be remiss not to close the meal with a dessert from the restaurant’s many sweet selections. More than 15 in all tempt diners with all the favorite decadent delights of French baking – fruit tarts, sweet crêpes, chocolate mousse, and a thick, creamy Crème Brulée ($7.50) are some of the ways to sweeten the finale of a French culinary getaway.
La Côte d’Or Café is located at 6876 Lee Highway, Arlington. For more information, call 703-538-3033 or visit lacotedorcafe.com. Restaurant hours are Monday – Thursday: 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m., 5 – 9 p.m.; Friday – Saturday: 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m., 5 – 10 p.m.; and Sunday: 11 – 3 p.m., 5 – 9 p.m.