Café Deluxe Needs Work

Café Deluxe Tysons Corner
1800 International Drive West
McLean, VA 22102

American | $

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Looking for dinner before a recent Wolf Trap concert we chose Café Deluxe in Tysons Corner. It has been over 10 years since we lived in McLean and dined there. Little has changed. The Café Deluxe chain has operated 5 restaurants in the Washington, DC area since the late 80s.

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The décor is a combination of dark woods and mirrors with an old world café look.

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My wife’s Three Onion Soup was nice and not overly salty.

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I liked my Prosciutto Mac & Cheese with Cavatappi Pasta, Gruyere, Cream, and Chives appetizer. The cork-screw pasta was cooked firmly and tasty. The gruyere cream sauce was excellent with the prosciutto.

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My wife enjoyed her crumbled blue cheese salad.

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For an entrée I tried the Arugula, Shaved Prosciutto, and Reggiano Parmesan Flatbread. I found the arugula and shaved parmesan cheese scarcely warm and appeared to have been added in the final preparation of the dish. Adding colder items to a warm dish cools it down quickly. The arugula was fresh and generously spread across the flatbread. The bread was crisp and at a temperature making it instantly edible. For me this usually means my last few bites will be cold.

Service was sufficiently ok. Our server was friendly but busy with tables outside. Our dishes from the 1st course sat on the table for over 5 minutes in which the busboy passed twice and an assortment of wait staff passed the table 10 times. It is hard to say how long the plates would have remained but for a manager taking them away so he could deliver our entrées.

Décor plays an important role in controlling noise in a restaurant and this Café Deluxe is notorious for being a loud place to eat. Early during our dinner the noise level was 77 decibels with less than 10% of the restaurant full. As we ate the noise grew to a hard-to-hear 84 decibel crescendo when leaving. It might be easier to hear dining on the patio but having people stopped at the traffic light stare at me while I’m eating sort of creeps me out.

Tysons Corner has always been a growing area and with the new Metro Silver line it will see explosive growth. There are plenty of good restaurants and more coming. It could be a challenge for management if they find no way to focus on service and create a team environment for the wait staff.