One of the things keeping me in the Washington DC area is our wonderful culinary culture, and the food that accompanies it. While I’m not always in a position (financially) to enjoy every aspect of that culture, just knowing that the works of such chefs as Michel Richard and Eric Ziebold are minutes away is somewhat comforting.
However, on occasion I get lucky enough to live outside my means, and try one of the many gastronomic jewels in DC; last night at Bistro Bis was one of those occasions.
Beyond their rank as one of the top 30 restaurants in DC by Washingtonian Magazine, I honestly didn’t know much about Bistro Bis; and with no expectations, the meal we sat down to was an incredibly pleasant surprise.
From the moment you walk in to the moment you leave the atmosphere is incredibly friendly. Elegant and formal without approaching stuffy or overbearing, the décor and the service allowed for a relaxing dining experience, and the dining room was quiet enough for us to actually hold a conversation.
The food itself was solid to say the least, each dish equally well prepared with very few exceptions.
I started off with the Steak Tartare Atilla, an appetizer with a large portion of steak tartare, a mixed green salad, and garlic potato chips. The salad and chips were fairly pedestrian and certainly nothing to rave about, but the steak tartare was the real star of the dish – as it should have been. The sirloin was incredibly fresh and wonderfully seasoned. I found it went particularly well with a small amount of fresh ground mustard served with it.
Accompanying the appetizer and the rest of my meal was a wonderful glass (many times over) of red wine from France – unfortunately I can’t remember which part of France or the name of the wine – just that it was quite good.
Moving on to the entrée, I had the monkfish marseillaise – a dish containing chunks of monkfish, clams and mussels, in a tomato and fennel sauce. The clams and mussels were delicious – mussels being one of my favorite foods, these rivaled those at Jaleo which I thought were the best I’ve ever had.
I wish there could have been a bit more monkfish in the dish, and if the fish were a little warmer and slightly moister, but in all, it was a great dish, and was quite filling.
After our main course, we were treated to a complimentary port and cheese course, which consisted of a great variety of soft, hard and blue cheeses along with bread and crackers and a wonderfully sweet port. It was a great addition to our meal, and certainly one that our waiter didn’t have to indulge us in, but regardless it was one of those moments that make meals experiences, and that keep people coming back to a restaurant.
Not satisfied with three, I went for a fourth course and got a desert: a warm apple tart. The apples were slightly disappointing as they looked like they had been sitting out for a while, but the actual pastry portion was quite remarkable and the crème fraiche ice cream was a great touch.
Beyond what I got, what I tasted from my accompaniment was very good as well – standing out amongst the list was some incredibly tasty escargot and some of the best crème brule I’ve ever had.
In short, Bistro Bis had all of the elements contained within every other great dining “experience” I’ve ever had. Great service, great atmosphere, and great food come together to keep me wanting to come back again – and if I’m ever on Capitol Hill looking for a fantastic place to have dinner, Bistro Bis will be on the top of my list.
15 E Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001