Taster’s choice at Marcel’s

Marcel’s Chef Robert Wiedmaier’s French Belgian escape on Pennsylvania Ave., is the perfect place to go to end a long summer weekend afternoon.

Decorated differently than Wiedmaier’s other restaurants in town —Brabo and Brasserie Beck — Marcel’s gives off more of a quiet elegance than the warm and friendly, always-populated Brabo and Beck.

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If you’re able to stand the record heat the region has experienced this June, Marcel’s offers outdoor seating to people-watch along Pennsylvania Ave. They also have a gated patio with access to the wine bar if you’re interested in hosting pre-dinner cocktails for as many as 100 people.

The restaurant mimicking an intimate Belgian castle dining room of sorts offers a tasting menu with three, four, five or seven courses. There’s also a pre-theater menu available before 7 p.m. for those heading to any of the area’s performing arts venues.

If you’re indecisive or just not a huge fan of tasting menus, don’t fret. Marcel’s offers dishes served as entrees or cuts of steak, such as a New York strip, as your dinner choice.

The lobster pappardelle (substituted with shrimp on the evening I attended) was served with carrots in a rich yet summery white sauce perfect for the heat and humidity of D.C. Pair it with one of the choices on the first course: baby arugula with shallots and goat cheese. Both are light enough that you can eat them and still be able to set foot outside without feeling too full. Sip a Marcel’s signature mojito overflowing with the fragrance of freshly cut mint leaves, and you’re set for summer.

Marcel’s offers other seafood and salad items on its menu, including a salmon dish with fresh vegetables and an heirloom tomato salad my dining partner called “incredibly flavorful.”

The main course meat dishes were spectacular and unique to different tastes. The filet mignon with asparagus spears was served with a mashed potato bursting with peppery garlic flavor. The other choices — bison and duck — were a welcome change to the traditional steak and seafood options that seem at times to overpopulate the area.

The duck was served sweet with a cherry reduction and the bison was prepared with potatoes. One other dish that’s a must-try: the veal tortellini. For someone who isn’t a huge fan of Italian food, my guest absolutely loved the dish, served with a parsnip puree and red wine veal jus.

The final course, a coconut soufflé with key lime ice cream and tropical fruit, reminded me of summer the second it was placed in front of me. Take a bite and you are instantly transported to the Florida Keys, sunny Los Angeles or — the way D.C. weather has been lately — your very own backyard.

Some tasting menus can seem like an endless display of dish after dish, leaving no room for contemplation of taste and the way the food was presented. Marcel’s is perfection when it comes to pace of food.

With each course, we were able to discuss what we had eaten, and enjoyed every morsel.

A tip many are unaware of: The pre-theater menu includes a complimentary executive car service to the Kennedy Center.

Marcel’s is open for dinner seven days a week, Sunday from 5:30-9:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday from 5:30-10 p.m. and Saturday from 5:30-11 p.m.