Moules grillées, with sauce choron, green garlic, and chorizo. All photos by Scott Suchman, courtesy of Petite Cerise

The RundownWashington D.C.

Petite Cerise Brings The Dabney’s Sensibilities to an All-Day French Café


Finding a decent sit-down breakfast spot in D.C. can be surprisingly difficult. Perhaps you know this struggle too — a 9 a.m. scramble to a nearby coffee shop or bakery probably won’t leave you satisfied. As chef Jeremiah Langhorne puts it, a great breakfast doesn’t need to be either a rushed meal or one reserved for the slowest of days. A middle ground exists.

This certainly holds true at Petite Cerise, an all-day French cafe and bistro that opened this April in Shaw. Here, breakfast gets star-studded treatment in classic French omelets, crêpes, buttery pastries, and many more regional plates inspired by Langhorne’s travels in France. Not only did French bistro food largely appeal to Langhorne, but so did the country’s relaxed culture around breakfast.

“A big part of bringing this restaurant to the city was to get people to slow down a little bit,” says Langhorne, who also runs the Mid-Atlantic fine dining restaurant The Dabney. “Go meet a friend and have a good breakfast.”

This project from Langhorne and business partner Alex Zink has been a long time in the making. Originally slated to open in the fall 2020, Petite Cerise — which means “little cherry” — scaled back during the pandemic, before opening in April 2023. Now in their two-story sun-soaked space, located at 7th and L streets NW, diners can have their fill of buckwheat crêpes, beef-fat frites served with vinegar aioli, and decadent crawfish gratin.

Here’s what else you need to know about this bistro serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner all day long.

Poisson “à la John Haywood,” aka potato-crusted fish with fennel, bacon, and pearl onion.
Poisson “à la John Haywood,” aka potato-crusted fish with fennel, bacon, and pearl onion.

1. It’s open all day, but each meal has its own vibe.

“The fact that we’re open all day is pretty wild,” Langhorne admits. Open six days a week, Petite Cerise operates continuously from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. (They currently close on Monday and at 3 p.m. on Sunday). Breakfast gets dished out at 9 a.m., including croissants made in-house and croques using loaves from Manifest Bread in Riverdale Park, Maryland. There’s a different menu for lunch and dinner too, which begins at 11:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., respectively. Brunch is offered only on the weekends. From 4 to 5 p.m., a limited menu ensures the staff can break before dinner service.

Dining at Petite Cerise during the daytime is already a treat, especially with the restaurant’s open kitchen and giant windows filtering in sunlight. But even if you’ve made a trip for breakfast, lunch, or brunch, expect a completely different vibe for dinner. Not only does the menu change, with heartier plates such as a potato-crusted golden tilefish, but the dimly lit dining room takes a cozy turn for a romantic night out.

The copper pans on the wall were sourced by the chef and his wife in flea markets outside of Paris.
The copper pans on the wall were sourced by the chef and his wife in flea markets outside of Paris.

2. The menu and dining room are inspired by France.

Since his beginnings as a young chef, Langhorne has always considered himself a Francophile. In fact, it’s the cuisine he first trained in, and the one he constantly seeks out for both pleasure and research. While he was able to sneak in a few French techniques at The Dabney, Petite Cerise is his ultimate ode to French cuisine and the country’s buzzing bistros.

At Petite Cerise, you won’t find typical bistro fare like French onion soup or snails, though don’t necessarily rule those ingredients out in the restaurant’s future either. Instead, the chef sought out regional dishes, including poached asparagus with hollandaise and whipped cream and fricassée chicken, over which is ladled a creamy morel-mushroom wine sauce. The cocktail menu also takes a few nods from France, including a soon-to-debut non-alcoholic shaken lemonade that was spotted by Langhorne in Lyon.

French appeal continues in the wine list curated by Dabney veteran Jessica Liberto, which exclusively features bottles from the full spectrum of the country’s wine diversity. You’ll be able to dive into well-known Burgundy and Bordeaux wines, but most of the list is dedicated to lesser-known areas and up-and-coming winemakers.

And for even more hints of France, look to the restaurant’s design and decor, which Langhorne’s wife Jenny Mooney helped direct. With an inviting bar, large windows, and an open kitchen, the restaurant recalls the likes of bistros across France. Plus, the old copper pans on rods and gorgeous lithographs lining the staircase were handpicked by the chef and his wife in flea markets outside of Paris.

Artichauts grillés with aioli.
Artichauts grillés with aioli.

3. The ever-changing menu features familiar staples and seasonal ingredients.

Petite Cerise’s menu is constantly evolving. “I’m just not the type of chef that’s ever going have a set menu,” Langhorne says. In fact, this philosophy lines up with much of French cuisine, which emphasizes seasonality, proper technique, and history. So while menu favorites such as the buckwheat crêpe or cruller will stick around, expect the toppings to change with the seasons. (Currently, the buckwheat crêpe has salami, honey, goat cheese, and lemon zest, but the summer version will be different.)

When it comes to ingredients, Langhorne wants to source the best of the best, beginning with butter. Used in most dishes and in the restaurant’s signature flaky croissant, much of the butter comes from artisanal butter producer Rodolphe Le Meunier in the Loire Valley. Other ingredients such as vegetables, meat, and fish are sourced from local farms as well as from producers such as Keepwell Vinegar or salami-maker MeatCrafters.

Salade “à la Petite Cerise.”
Salade “à la Petite Cerise.”

4. You’ll spot a few notable crossovers from The Dabney.

From a quick glance, The Dabney and Petite Cerise seem like polar opposites. The former is a Michelin-starred fine dining restaurant, the latter dishes out French bistro fare in a relaxed setting. One has the feel of a rustic tavern with a wood-burning fire to boot, the other features white-tiled floors and an open dining room flecked with sunlight. But these differences are merely superficial. According to Langhorne, both restaurants were created with the same philosophy and even supplied by some of the same farmers and producers. “Diners might be eating two dishes that seem totally different to them, but they were created by the same set of values in the same approach,” Langhorne says.

The Petite Cerise team also shares some staff with The Dabney. Executive sous chef Madeleine Lewsen, an eight-year veteran of The Dabney, helps oversee the kitchen with a few former Dabney chefs. Beverage director Jessica Liberto and bar director Dan Todd consult at both venues. Beyond this core staff, most of the Petite Cerise team is new and committed to creating a vibrant bistro culture in the heart of Shaw.

The bar is available for walk-ins.
The bar is available for walk-ins.

5. Pro tip: There’s always a seat at the bar.

Currently, you can make reservations on Resy, which Langhorne recommends for the weekends and the restaurant’s busier days. But you should always feel comfortable stopping by the bar to grab an early morning espresso or a tasteful cocktail. Langhorne emphasizes that the busiest diner can always find a seat at Petite Cerise, even if it’s just for 10 minutes in the morning. “I want people to be able to walk up to the bar and have an espresso or croissant and not get it in a to-go cup,” he says.

Ultimately, Langhorne hopes that regulars will stop by the dining room a few times a week and get to know the team behind the restaurant.