Cafe Deluxe, the DC-area mini-chain offering familiar American classics, kicks off its “Burger Days of Summer” menu today. From now until the end of July, the weekday lunch menu will feature a gourmet slate of six creative burgers (including salmon and veggie versions), priced from $13-16, accompanied by a side of shoestring fries. On Wednesdays, the restaurant will have a special treat-the burgers can be ordered all day for half price. The restaurant has two DC locations-the original in Cathedral Heights (3228 Wisconsin Ave. NW) and the new flagship location in the Hilton Garden Inn in the West End (2201 M St. NW), along with several others in the MD/VA suburbs.
Barred in DC was invited to the West End location on a recent evening to sample these tasty new burgers and enjoy a few great drinks. I can foresee these substantial patties, all sandwiched between great buns (the jalapeno cheddar version being the standout) from the local wholesaler Uptown Bakers, being quite popular for both tourists staying at the Hilton Garden Inn and the many hotels within the block as well as nearby summer associates at its West End location. The handsome modern airy space features front wall-to-ceiling windows at the corner of 22nd and M.
7 ounces of ground angus beef were juicy and well complemented by creative toppings on each of the 4 bovine burgers:
- Porter: my favorite one of the evening, with onions slow braised in Anchor Porter beer, applewood-smoked bacon, provolone, and porter mayo on an onion poppy seed bun;
- T Coast (named as an homage to Tortilla Coast, part of same chain): two types of peppers (red peppers and jalapeños) and pepper jack cheese, house made avocado spread (which cuts down on the heat), topped with crunchy cumin-dusted tortilla strips, between halves of a stunningly tasty and handsome jalapeno cheddar bun;
- Red White and Blue: probably the simplest concoction on the menu with blue cheese complimented with a sweet and tangy red onion marmalade and horseradish mayo on a sesame bun;
- Philly Cheesesteak (homage to Chef Jason McIntosh’s hometown): massive burger featuring provolone topped with prime rib and house made cheese sauce on the side (made with cheddar and American cheeses in a bechamel sauce). Pro-tip: dip your fries in the cheese sauce, you won’t regret it.
Pescetarians will enjoy the Salmon Burger #3 with a heavily Asian influence that has a taste resembling a salmon sushi roll; this burger is made with ground salmon (with egg and panko as the binder), topped with seaweed salad, pickled ginger, crispy spring roll strips and wasabi mayo on a oat/wheat bun, while vegetarians can scarf down the 23-ingredient Austin Veggie – with black bean relish, jack cheese, avocado spread and sandwiched in a jalapeño cheddar bun.
Aside from the burgers, Cafe Deluxe’s cocktails were a surprising highlight of the evening. The $10 Blue Lemonade cocktail, with house-infused lemon vodka, lemon juice, and blueberries captured the essence of summertime lemonade with a crisp tartness, along with fruity secrets, while the $10 GT 500 was a fresh gin and tonic/club soda combo. The $12 Cucumber Martini topped with a twist of cracked pepper is summer must. Elderflower liqueur aficionados and not-such-big fans will be pleased. Enjoy on a summer day-make sure it’s hot as the cucumber will work better that way; sit near one of the big picture windows that open to the fresh summer breeze and let this balanced cocktail get you in the groove. A solid list of beers also go well with the burgers-I had a Reviver Red IPA from Starr Hill. Happy hour is on deck weekdays from 3:30-7p at the bar with $4-6 bar bites and $4 Stella Artois drafts & house wine, $5 rocks margarita & a Cosmopolitan, and $1 off all drafts.