Behind the brick façade of Plush Gelato & Coffee, owners Dinh and Henry Luong handcraft a rainbow of velvety gelatos and sorbets to match a variety of custom-brewed coffee and lattes. Spheres of creamy gelato scooped away from frosty peaks woo sweet teeth with locally sourced and seasonal flavors such as chocolate hazelnut, nutella cookie, and vietnamese coffee ($3.75 for small; $4.50 for medium; $5.25 for large). Blood orange, strawberry, and mango juices freeze into smooth sorbet with a unique texture that comes from millions of microscopic crystals. Rather than licking a car battery, awaken somnolent palates with a large cup of piping hot coffee ($2.25) or a foamy latte ($3.75).
Run by French-trained chef-de-cuisine John-Gustin Birkitt, The French Hound serves up a menu of European palate pleasers that, like the fashion-forwardness of seersucker jumpsuits, is subject to shift with the seasons. Starters such as saucissons et cornichons—dried salami with pickles—($4) and salade endive ($9) regally introduce diners to formal entrees such as traditional cassoulet_stew ($30) or the poisson l'espadon, a grilled swordfish mobbed by an entourage of baby carrots, turnips, and broccoli behind a veil of roasted beet sauce ($26). Desserts of creamy crème caramel ($8) or the tort au chocolat ($8) offer delicately sweet massages to post-meal mouth muscles.
When Sonny Abraham took a job at his father's restaurant, he assumed it would be a temporary arrangement until he received his pilot's license. But it was amid the hot suds of soapy dishes and the clatter of pots and pans that he fell in love with the restaurant industry and began dreaming of starting a fine-dining establishment of his own. In pursuit of his new dream, Sonny secured culinary positions at upscale hotels throughout Washington, DC, even traveling to Switzerland to work in a high-end kitchen. Ten years later, Sonny captains the kitchen of his own restaurant, Brasserie Monte Carlo.
Inside the restaurant, which was very recently REAL certified by the United States Healthful Food Council, Sonny whips up French Mediterranean dishes with housemade sauces and herbs from his own garden. The chef often delivers the still-sizzling dishes to the dining room himself, where diners await their meals over glasses of fine wine. A vivid mural sweeps across one wall, depicting typical scenes from Monte Carlo, from French sunbathers tanning on a beach to an ex-car-insurance salesman working on his first attempt at a romance novel, Even Car-Insurance Salesmen Fall in Love.