Pavilion Café

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by sararevell on April 6, 2008

After attending to some business close to The Capitol, a colleague and myself wandered on foot down the snow-covered Mall wondering where we could stop for lunch. We hadn’t strayed too far when we spied the Pavilion café, which is nestled in the middle of the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden. The snowy covering ensured that the garden was a peaceful place to pass the time that day with only a few people out and about braving the cold weather. We took a few minutes to look over their menu and were surprised to learn that many of their items were unavailable. They were out of all of their salads and the sandwich selection was also sadly depleted. Undeterred we ordered their French Onion Soup and a couple of Paninis and took a seat in their conservatory-like café.

The Pavilion Café was really a wonderful place to stop on such a cold day as we warmed ourselves, enjoying the view of the sculpture park and a small rink where families and children enjoyed themselves on the ice. It was the epitome of a winter wonderland.

Our food arrived fairly quickly and wasn’t quite as overwhelming as the view. The French Onion Soup was a poor imitation, with big chunks of cheddar cheese lamenting in a thin broth and very little onion to speak of. I’d ordered a Cuban Panini, which was a strange concoction of provolone cheese, deli ham as well as roasted pork. It wasn’t bad but at $8.50 it certainly wasn’t a good example of value for money. I ordered a herbal tea and my colleague celebrated the early end of our work day with a cold beer as alcohol is available for purchase. I couldn’t help wishing that we’d had time for a hot chocolate as that seemed to be the more appropriate beverage that day.

The service was somewhat disorganized but the staff were so sweet and cheerful that I feel bad being overly critical. They initially forgot our order of soup and seemed under-prepared even for the small crowd of customers that day being as they were all out of salads and many of the sandwiches by the time we arrived at 2pm on a Wednesday. I imagine that on a warmer day or during peak season at the Smithsonian this place does brisk business. It’s one of the few desirable places outside of the museums open for lunch and is certainly a better option than the many kiosks around offering fast food snacks and soft drinks.

Pavilion Cafe
Natonal Gallery Sculpture Garden
Washington, District of Columbia
(202) 289-3360

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