Little Fountain Cafe lets you unwind in peace with comforting entrees and a serene off-the-beaten-path atmosphere that is often hard to find in D.C.

The small restaurant is nestled on 18th Street between a Jumbo Slice pizza storefront and the bar Angles. To a passerby, it might go unnoticed. Low ceilings and kitschy decor give the sense that you’ve stumbled somewhere very different from the streamlined chains and branded designer chef joints that have been popping up all over the city.

Little Fountain’s menu showcases a small assortment of dishes. Mouthwatering starters include steamed mussels in your choice of either red curry or white wine herb sauce and miniature crab cakes with crawfish sauce. Wines are mostly served by the bottle and run about $7 by the glass, however, on Wednesdays, Little Fountain offers half-priced wines with dinner.

For the entree, I opted for the special of the day — fettuccine with mussels in a white wine cream sauce. They also serve pan-seared brook trout with lemon white wine caper sauce over a bed of orzoand snow peas and cioppino, a fish, shellfish and tomato soup hailing from San Francisco. Portions were good and the quality was high. Not a speck of sand in the mussels and the cream sauce balanced the delicate flavors of herbs and wine without being too overpowering or heavy.

For dessert, our waitress (who also happens to be the restaurant’s head pastry chef of the past 13 years) recommended the brioche and chocolate chip bread pudding. According to her, the delightful dessert has stayed on the menu for years because of its popularity, and it left little to be desired. It is served as a wedge of bread pudding in a pool of warm, rum-infused chocolate, which we complemented with cups of coffee. The brioche name makes it sound pretty sophisticated, though it tastes a lot like a well-made piece of French toast rather than an upscale pastry. But there’s no shame in that. Other seasonal desserts available are apple dumplings with cinnamon cider sauce and maple creme brulee with honey fritters.

Mid-priced and not too over styled, quaint Little Fountain Cafe is a perfect place for a casual dinner or a romantic date. Book in advance or go on a weeknight since there’s not much room, and a hole-in-the-wall like Little Fountain won’t stay secluded for long.

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