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“an unexpected/expected delight” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Cafe des Artistes - CLOSED

Cafe des Artistes
Certificate of Excellence
Cuisines: French, American
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic, Business meetings, Special occasions
Dining options: Lunch, Brunch, Dinner, Full Bar, Parking Available, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
893 reviews
315 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 812 helpful votes
“an unexpected/expected delight”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 13, 2014

We spent the morning touring beautiful and historic St. Mary's County, Maryland, and taking the advice of other Trip Advisor reviewers, came to the Café. So...on the one hand...we should have expected an excellent meal. But the truth is, even with strong expectations, this restaurant pleasantly surprised us.

Hint: All day Sunday and at lunch times there is a special three course Prix Fixe Menu that offers a long list of tempting appetizers, main courses and dessert for $24.95. This proved to be far better than we ever anticipated in the middle of a rural area where one usually comes to grab some crab delights from a simple eatery. We felt that the quality and presentation of the meal (and we did not at all expect the latter) were equivalent to $60-100 meal in the Washington area. It was that good.

The menu is vast and offers a wide variety of choices. With this in mind, I hesitate to recommend any dish in particular. I had the veal, which I am partial to, and use to judge many restaurants, and it was cooked to perfection, with a delicate sauce that leaned more toward the Italian than the French. Fine with me. The crisp vegetables and the potatoes au gratin were perfect complements. My wife had grilled shrimp as an appetizer and salmon for the main course, and surprised me with the very high marks she gave to both. Because of this, I simply had to taste some, and I could not agree more.

The wine list is excellent, but because it was such a hot, muggy day, we decided on Belgian beer, going for the well known as opposed to the local brews, which are increasingly getting rave reviews.

There are special lunch menus during the week, so we plan to come back. This area of Maryland is so beautiful, historic and so easily reached from Washington, I'm surprised we have overlooked it.

  • Visited July 2014
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
2 Thank Anthony-Susan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

121 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    67
    28
    14
    9
    3
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Maryland
Level Contributor
76 reviews
46 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 45 helpful votes
“Consistently "Tres Bien"!”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 10, 2014

This is the most reliable nice meal in the area. Sometimes the food is too rich for our current eating habits, with more butter and cream than our stomachs are accustomed to. But the food IS good - and we are learning to order carefully.

The lunches are a great deal - and nicely prepared food. This past time, I had a quiche that was light and smooth. Can't remember my husband's choice, but he was 100% satisfied.

Merci to Cafe des Artistes - always "delicieux"!

Visited July 2014
Helpful?
1 Thank M G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Northern Virginia
Level Contributor
150 reviews
84 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 113 helpful votes
“A French Classic In An Unlikely Setting”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 10, 2014

Overview: A French-style restaurant run by a native of France and French Morocco with a lengthy resume in various classic French restaurants.

Location: Right on the central town square in an older building with an interesting history.

Ambience: Eclectic. Traditional chairs, dark wood, deep red carpet. Part of the owner’s extensive collection of conventional cameras is on display throughout the restaurant.

Service: Very good. The server was patient with the couple that went with us, who are not especially familiar with French cuisine. The staff are well trained in the finer points of classical service – how to orient the dish, etc.

Food: Choices are somewhat limited and I would not call the dishes especially inventive, but the ingredients and execution are flawless. Most dishes include a classic French sauce, which were also perfectly executed. The cuisine is classic French so those who want a precious little salad or a light meal are not going to be happy. We especially appreciated the perfectly executed sautéed fresh vegetable medley that was served with every entrée – no need for any sides here. Although it does not appear that the core of the menu changes much, there are always specials and they were interesting. All food is prepared on-sitre except for the ice cream which is delivered from a local gourmet ice cream shop and made by them. e Our party ordered snails, cream of crab soup, and fresh split pea soup as appetizers. All excellent, but as I warned our Maryland-native friends, the crab soup was not Maryland-style. For mains, we had the coquilles Saint Jacque (scallops), veal Normandy, and the eggplant entrée. Again, all excellent. We were too stuffed for desert.

Wine: An intelligently chosen wine list, with some good-value specials. The local vins de terroir were all represented and we applaud them for that; its not the restaurant’s fault that unfortunately they are not especially good.

Value: Good. Two courses with wine came to $50 a head. Not cheap, but the restaurant certainly delivered a $50 meal.

Would we go again: Yes, we want to.

Would we recommend it to others: With some reservations. Not a restaurant for health nuts, and not all our friends like classic French cuisine (I know, I shake my head, but there it is, there sometimes is no accounting for taste).

Why not a Five?: A place needs to be very, very special for us to give a 5. We were torn because opening a restaurant of this style and price point in a place like Leonardtown was an act of great courage. That it has succeeded in this environment and through recessions as well says a great deal about the owner and his execution.

  • Visited June 2014
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
2 Thank InformedTraveller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Springfield, Virginia
Level Contributor
15 reviews
10 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Great food found by accident!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 28, 2014

My wife and I were driving to Leonardtown doing some sightseeing, and stumbled upon their city square where a jazz band was playing an open air concert. As we cruised through their downtown, we noticed the Cafe des Artistes on the corner, and immediately decided to have dinner there. Fair warning, the prices are fair in my opinion for the quality of food, but not inexpensive by any stretch of the imagination!
We decided to sit on the front patio/sidewalk to listen to the jazz, and we were not disappointed. We started with a cheese platter of the day, and while it was good, it was a tad disappointing. Lots of creamy, but not much tangy. The house cabernet was delicious and reasonably priced, and the bartender knows how to make a great Bloody Mary (with Old Bay on the rim)!
My wife's French Onion soup was perfect! It was savory, with a beautiful crust of cheese on and around the bowl, and the onions were caramelized beautifully! My beef Wellington was also incredible, and perfectly executed! The caper and wine reduction was among the best I have had, and the sides were all well done and complimeted without overshadowing the centerpiece Wellington! My only regret is that the Wellington left no room for dessert, which I heard was quite special here!
I have read other reviews about their service being spotty, but honestly my server was top notch. She was attentive without being intrusive, which is a rare art in wait staff.
We enjoyed this Cafe immensely!

  • Visited May 2014
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
Thank SuffolkJoe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Baltimore, MD
Level Contributor
41 reviews
18 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“An Unexpected Treasure”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 26, 2014

Unable to find the seafood restaurant we were seeking, we thought we were settling for the Cafe des Artistes because of its cheery, pleasant appearance. Instead, we found ourselves in a sophisticated but friendly restaurant, relaxing to old jazz and enjoying French food - and we were able to have the fish we desired. As I have traveled to France and my husband is a native Francophone, we were surprised by the authenticity, except for the bread, which was still very good and, I'm guessing, more in line with local taste. Our prix-fixe late lunch/early dinner was pricey but worth it to us and a good quantity of interesting, fresh and well-made food. If we vacation in that part of Southern Maryland again, we'll definitely be back, maybe even with guests in tow. We enjoyed it that much. My guilty pleasure? The chocolate fondant!

  • Visited May 2014
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
Thank Pamela T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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