OK Saint-Ex fans, here's the bad news: The U Street area bar and cafe is closing its kitchen for renovations on Monday, and it'll remain closed for four weeks smack in the middle of the dog days. So you only have a few more days to canoodle with the full menu. The good news is that they're still going to be serving some food in the form of a barbecue bar and cold dishes. And when the kitchen opens back up next month, there's going to be a whole lot more that they can do.
According to executive chef Billy Klein, the renovation is going to be more like a facelift: adding new equipment and refrigeration, while getting rid of the wood grill that was taking up much of the space. A second convection oven means Saint-Ex can expand its bread program, while Klein says more griddles mean they'll be able to serve things like pancakes and more: "We'll be able to serve seared scallops again. We haven't been able to do that for three years."
In the meantime, Saint-Ex is still going to be open for brunch and dinner — though, please note, not lunch — with a menu limited to mostly cold items. Klein says they're taking a few booths out of the dining room to set up a miniature sandwich kitchen with charcuterie, salads, sandwiches and pate. The only real hot items are going to be the pulled pork sandwiches that they'll be preparing over at sister kitchen Bar Pilar. Klein says the pulled pork will be served in whatever style they're feeling on any given day, so it'll be a crap shoot whether you're getting Carolina or Korean-style. Pastry chef Alison Reed is also experimenting with new ice cream flavors that Klein explains are designed to stand alone rather than as a side to a more decadent dessert. As for brunch, Klein says they'll probably take out even more booths and set up an omelet station plus a griddle for pancakes. So there you have it. If you just absolutely have to have the chicken fried steak saltimboca one more time before the four-week closure, consider this your last call.
· Café Saint-Ex [Official Site]
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Café Saint-Ex [Photo: Melodi R./Yelp]