I love reading restaurant reviews, and blogs on best places to dine, in the Washington DC area. I live and work in the burbs so am always envious that all the best places seem to be in the District, and too far/no time to check them out. For this birthday I decided I was going to pick one of the places I hear raves about; I decided on Le Diplomate. Best decision ever! I made reservations three weeks in advance for 5:15 on a Friday, best I could do. Hallelujah, they have valet parking, crucial in this part of the city; the hostesses were so friendly, the restaurant décor is casual yet upscale French café, with lots of evergreens and lights and poinsettias for the holidays, really beautiful. We started with some specialty cocktails; I had the Josephine, which was delicious; and we ordered a carafe of the "rouge" mixed wine, which is several red varietals mixed and served in a label-free 750 ml wine bottle. It was delicious, our group ordered a second bottle! We started with the mushroom tart to share. It arrived on a wooden plank, it was just the right size for three or four to share, the pastry was so flaky, and the filling-delicious. My husband had the mushroom soup; it was also spectacular, luckily for us he shared with everyone. I had the daily special, boulliabase, a very flavorful mix of sea bass, mussels, shrimp, some other fish, and a wonderful broth with saffron. I used some of the baguette from the very generous bread basket to soak up every bit of the broth. My dining partners both had the beef bourginouine, deliciously browned and tender chunks of beef with carrots and onions in a delectable sauce, with potato puree. We all agreed that everything was just perfect. Our server and the assistants hit just the right balance between making sure that we had everything we needed, without being in the way. During the meal the manager asked if things were to our liking and I did tell him that it was my best birthday meal ever-which it really was, and I've had quite a few! Later they presented me with a dish of chocolate ice cream with a charming dove-shaped thin cookie, and a lit sparkler in it; sadly the sparkler died out just as my sister got her phone ready to take a picture. But wait-our server observed this and within a few moments brought and lit another sparkler so she could capture the moment! What great attention to the little things. I cannot imagine that any of the other highly touted restaurants I'd considered, could have topped this great meal. Expensive but worth it.