Crab Cake Appetizer with Citrus Relish

The place started out, as I'm sure many of you who've been here longer than I have remember, as a Mexican place where you brought your own booze. Then he went to Latin and Spanish food. One of his lawyers, Paul Pascall's, favorite stories is how the Park Cafe got its liquor license. Originally they were turned down because a nearby church invoked a law that says a business within a certain number of feet of a church cannot have a liquor license. So he hired a lawyer and challenged the law. He was an immigrant in this country, with no special connections to anyone in power, and he used the court system available to him and got the law overturned. A great example of the American justice system being equal and available to everyone, Paul likes to point out. He'll also tell you about how all the windows in the neighborhood were filled with signs supporting the Cafe.

So once he got his license, Alcione opened the kind of restaurant he really wanted. A real, high end, food lover's restaurant. And he began collecting wine. If you ask him how he knows so much about wine, he'll laugh and say, "In Chile you grow up, you know about wine. From day one. You just drink it and you know. When the babies cry, they don't dip the pacifier in milk, they dip it in the wine." He currently has somewhere close to 3500 bottles in the cellar representing wineries in Spain, Chile, South Africa, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Oregon, Washington State and, of course, California. He loves California wine.

He develops the menus with his chef, Gustaf (formerly the chef at the Palm on 19th Street, famous hangout of Washington politicians). He adds new dishes every few weeks to accommodate seasonal ingredients or to show off something he's been working on.

 
 
       
     
 

Alcione Vinet's Park Cafe. 106 13th ST SE, Washington DC.   Reservations (202) 543-0184.   All images copyright The Park Cafe 2005.

Photography and Site Design by DumbTourist.