Maman: NYC’s Newest Charming French Café

Located right in between SoHo and Chinatown, Maman is easy to miss, situated a fair distance away from the bustle of Broadway shopping and the Chinatown markets. This casual French café serves all its food in convenient to-go boxes and just opened a few weeks ago. Despite this and its location, when I stepped in for a quick lunch, the place was pretty packed.

Just because the café is designed for take-away food doesn’t mean they’ve sacrificed quality. Quite the opposite, in fact. By limiting their menu to a few selections per day (which you can track on their Facebook page until the website is fully functioning), they’re able to use fresh, local ingredients to make large batches of delicious food all ready to serve.

Walking into the café, you’re met with rustic, whimsical décor (case in point: the amazing rabbit vase below), large bowls of fresh salad, and cases filled with warm pastries. Coffee and espresso drinks are a bit pricey but nothing too shocking compared to Starbucks, with a regular drip coffee costing $2.50 and a latte around $4. The real bargain here are the quiches and tartinettes, which start at $6 and peak at just $8.

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Now, the food itself. While the menu does change every day, there seem to be a few mainstays, at least for this season. I opted for the smashed avocado tartinette and a lemon-thyme madeleine with an iced coffee (price wasn’t listed, but it ended up being $4—a bit much, but well worth getting to use one of the adorable blue and white-striped straws!).
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Daniel Boulud Returns to DC with DBGB

I love French food.

So when Daniel Boulud’s casual French-American restaurant DBGB opened last month, I wasted no time in getting a reservation. Chef Boulud spent a few years in DC during the early 80’s. He’s finally returned to open his 15th restaurant.

Displayed on the walls are plates decorated by over 100 chefs, including the likes of Dominique Ansel, April Bloomfield, and Anthony Bourdain (check out a more detailed breakdown of the plates here). They were definitely a highlight of our conversation. We were seated at a table, but I recommend requesting a booth.

Service started out slowly, but the real reason we were there made up from that:

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How does one not order wine made just miles away from the chef’s home in France?

Boudin blanc to start (there are several sausages to sample). But when in a Boulud restaurant, go with the traditional presentation.

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Breast of duck with horseradish and beets, which were a nice complement.
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A Birthday Weekend at the Georgetown Ritz-Carlton Hotel

Washington, DC: the heart of American politics and power. But the city is not all government, museums and buses loaded with tourists.

One of DC’s Ritz-Carlton hotels is located in the heart of Georgetown, which combines a thriving nightlife with the historic charm of buildings from the 1700s. Within walking distance from great restaurants and shops, this was a great choice for our in-town getaway.

Planning/Reservations

Online reservation was easy. About a week out from our arrival, Elizabeth from hotel reservations personally emailed me to inquire about our stay. I took the opportunity to inform her of hub’s birthday and requested an early check-in. She said that they were fully committed the evening before but would do their best.

Impressions Matter!

We arrived pretty early (8:30 a.m.-ish) and the front desk manager greeted us at the door.

I really do like check in at this hotel. Danny brought us over to a desk to be seated. No standing in a line! So civilized–more hotels should adopt this policy.

Over the weekend, we saw the same front desk staff the entire time and were addressed by name. Really wonderful.

Danny mentioned hub’s birthday and immediately offered us mimosas. We had quite a late night before and declined. Still, he insisted on us having a complimentary breakfast.

Now to my favorite part of the hotel: the lobby, which would more accurately be described as “the living room”. It’s a wonderful warm space to relax, read a book, or grab a drink.

After our wonderful breakfast, the room was ready.

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Our room was located in the East Wing (which I preferred) on the 4th floor. We had a lovely view of Georgetown.

The bed was wonderful and the bathroom was spacious with separate shower and soaking tub. Asbury bath amenities were provided, including salts for the tub!
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