Tuesday, August 2, 2005

La Brasserie, a French restaurant on Capitol Hill, closed last month, after a 27-year history of catering to political bigwigs and Hollywood A-listers.

“It was quite a Hill institution,” said Lynne Breaux, executive director of the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, who has eaten there several times. “It was a lovely restaurant.”

La Brasserie was located in a town house on Massachusetts Avenue Northeast. It served such politicos as the late Sen. Daniel Moynihan, New York Democrat, former Vice President Al Gore and the late Rep. Sonny Bono, California Republican, as well as actors like Jimmy Stewart, Paul Newman and Jane Fonda, said Lynne Campet, a former co-owner of the restaurant.

“A lot of important people dined there,” she said.

Mrs. Campet and her husband, Raymond, bought the restaurant in 1978 with Gaby and Marie Aubouin. At the time, it was a Greek-owned restaurant called Maxim’s and previously a cafe called La Ruche.

Mr. Campet and Mr. Aubouin, who worked at the French Embassy together, built the restaurant into a neighborhood favorite. The outdoor patio was “very special,” Mrs. Campet said, adding that diners sought the tables under the property’s big tree.

The 2003 Zagat Survey, which rates restaurants in different markets, said La Brasserie’s terrace “transports one to Paris.”

The French-inspired menu included such items as the cold three pepper soup, crabmeat and mozzarella lasagna, homemade tarts and creme brulee.

In 1992, the restaurant was sold to sisters Audrey and Karinne Dequeker, who could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Mr. and Mrs. Campet stayed in the restaurant business and opened La Cote D’Or Cafe in Arlington. Mr. Aubouin works as a chef at the Brazilian Embassy, Mrs. Campet said.

Ms. Breaux does not expect La Brasserie’s space just a few blocks from Union Station and the Capitol to be vacant for long.

“Something will take its place,” she said. “It’s evolution.”

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