1.28.2007

Nibble Notes: Bistrot du Coin.

The more culinary skills I acquire, the more I appreciate the French, and their contributions to the gastronomical world. During this journey, I came across Bistrot du Coin, located two blocks from my house in downtown Dupont Circle, DC. If you enjoy the true bistro experience, this is an excellent restaurant to visit.

This past Saturday night, Whisky, TMS, and I visitied for a nibble. Arriving at 1145pm, the restaurant will still bristling with energy as waitstaff zipped around delivering loaves of bread, crockpots of steaming mussels, and bottles of French wine. We intended to grab a light supper, as none of us had eaten properly that night.

For starters, we shared a Pâté de campagne Maison; a pork paté served with grilled bread and mesclun greens. The paté was slightly chilled below room temperature, allowing the fatty flavors to develop slightly in the warmer air while retaining its firmness. Whisky and I each ordered a glass of Puligny Montrachet, one of my favorite French chardonnays (at least, one of my favorites I can regularly afford to enjoy!).

For dinner, Whisky enjoyed a Tartine à la tapenade; an open-faced hot sandwich wth black olive puree, bayonne ham, and Swiss gruyère. Dee-lish! TMS and I split an order of Ravioles du Royan, mini herb ravioli in a cream sauce with Swiss gruyère cheese. The cheese 'crust' was near perfect; browned at the edges, and creamy as all-get-out (which, as I'm sure everyone knows, is pretty darn creamy.)

Dessert? French dessert is a study in sublime subtleties; basic ingredients used simply and effectively to create a taste profile rich in complimentary flavors, with no clear-cut emphasis to overpower secondary flavors. For us, it was the brioche with custard, orange blossom, and a light custard sauce. Whisky and I complimented the dessert with an iced Lillet with orange slices; if you have never had an iced Lillet, try it. They make this delightful in two flavors; blanc, steeped in candied orange, honey, mint, and fresh lime; and rouge, raspberry, cardamom, and ginger powerful on the palate. We drank Lillet blanc, a perfect pairing to the orange blossom in the custard.

Bistrot du Coin came about in the recent (80's-90') renaissance of French eating in Washington DC, a trend originally started by JFK during his presidency. The walls are yellowed with paint, helped along by years of tobacco smoke and aging. They are decorated with artifacts from all over France, as the mostly French staff will tell you. The service is comfortable and just the right speed; there is no rush here. Over the din of boisterous conversation (this is not a quiet establishment), one can barely make out the French DJ spinning trance and dance hall tunes at just the right volume. Their wine list is comprehensive and intelligently thought out; they have something for everyone despite one's preferences for type or region. The prices are reasonable, especially for DC (the three of us ate for $65, including the drinks.) And if that wasn't enough, it's one of the only places I've seen here so far that offers steak tartare, complete with egg yolk.

Interior: 7.50/10.00
Menu: 8.00/10.00
Wine List: 8.25/10.00
Service/Waitstaff: 7.50/10.00
Food: 8.50/10.00
Value: 8.00/10.00

Overall: 8.00/10.00

If you like casual (and actual) French, give it a try.

Salud!

1 comment:

allez oop said...

I like eating on the patio at Les Halles (PA Ave NW) and their croque monsieur sandwiches, but Montmartre (at Eastern Market) is adorably small and comfortable. Next on your list should be Belga Cafe on 8th Street near Eastern Market - lovely place.