Sometimes, in the middle of something, it hits me that I’ll never get it again.
It happened when I came home from my run last night and was stretching outside, when my dog saw me through the window and, after I came in to get him, jumped on the chair, my legs, the door, running to his leash when I told him to.
Also on Monday night, while I drove home in constant rain, after baking cookies at my brother’s apartment while the Internet guy drilled a hole in his wall; and when I overheard kids behind me on the airplane Sunday afternoon, asking their dad if D.C. was bigger or smaller than Illinois?
And could all of Bethesda and all of D.C. fit inside Illinois with room to spare?
It’s like, no matter how hard or frustrating or just very good something is, you’ve got to take it, arms wide open, because it’s yours, now.
Like this last weekend in Washington, D.C. Even if I tried very hard, I probably couldn’t book a top-floor hotel room at Hotel Palomar in DuPont Circle again and, even less likely, for no charge because of the right amount of credit card rewards.
I couldn’t re-create the weather, or the people we met, or the way I stumbled upon a farmers’ market on my Sunday morning jog.
It’s very possible, in fact, that if you went to D.C., you’d have a totally different experience, and you’d come back saying what a crazy place that was, like I did when I went to San Francisco last year, just because of the temperatures changing so much and my getting sick on the last day.
Still, though. I feel pretty sure about one thing, and that is this: You’d like Café Bonaparte. I’d put money on it.
You’d like it, at least, if you like France, or very good food, or excellent service from smiling servers in black-and-white striped shirts, set amongst a long black bar and brightly colored walls with photos of Paris.
In one way, we found Café Bonaparte by accident: my brother, his coworker Jen and I came for Georgetown’s French market Friday morning, and we were hungry for a meal, and there was the restaurant, straight ahead of us.
In another way, we found it by fate: two of my friends who had visited a few weeks earlier had recommended it, even though I’d forgotten the e-mail and missed a later text message.
Stepping into Café Bonaparte in Georgetown is like stepping into France. I haven’t been to France since, gosh, 2000?
Even then, I wasn’t there long, but I remember enough to feel confident that this place is like it, or at least my experience with it.
The dining area is small – very small – but the servers will take your name and tell you when to come back, and they’ll find you a spot.
Friday, there were fresh crepes being made outside, on those large circular irons that turn the liquid batter into thin, sweet dough, and you could get some to go, on paper plates, while you walked through the sidewalk sales.
I ordered a burger, thick and juicy, set on a golden brioche roll and topped with lettuce and a fresh tomato.
On the side were hand-cut homemade seasoned fries, crispy to the touch and hot and soft inside. Adam ordered a savory crepe, and Jen got a grilled chicken sandwich – we were all raving.
Afterwards, we even ordered desserts, seeing as it was vacation and all, and, you know, we’d never get that day again.
1522 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, DC 20007
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.