During Restaurant Weeks, I try to mix new places with old reliables. My second lunch in Bethesda, at Mon Ami Gabi, a classic French bistro, falls in the second category—I’ve eaten here countless times. Mon Ami Gabi is part of a small chain, with two restaurants in the Chicago area, one in Las Vegas, and two more in the Washington suburbs.
The plan for the day was to stick to the classics, and enjoy a traditional meal at a familiar restaurant.
How could I start with anything other than French Onion Soup? I’ve got to start making this at home, where Butternut Squash Soup has reigned far to long as my default lunch-in-a-bowl.
Mon Ami Gabi serves an authentic version of this standard, baked with the customary Gruyère topping.
Steak Frites. Of course I ordered Steak Frites with Béarnaise Sauce.
The restaurant is always busy, and on this MLK holiday, it was packed. That didn’t seem to have affected the quality of either the food or the service. “We thrive under pressure,” my server told me.
Then something happened that altered and enriched the whole experience, and set me off on an unexpected Proustian remembrance of things past.
Dessert was a Profiterole, with house-made vanilla ice cream and double chocolate sauce.
The chocolate sauce instantly brought back intense memories of the drugstore Hot Fudge Sundaes that I used to love as a kid. At the time, they were the best treat, the most wonderful thing in the world.
Wonder if they still make them? They must, but I can’t remember seeing them on a menu recently.
And another flashback: Raspberry Ice Cream. Not in a sundae, just a couple of scoops in a cone. Haven’t tasted it in years!
So a traditional meal leads to a search for two new (old) things, and I have two new (old) pleasures waiting for me.
I call that a successful lunch.