The next restaurant on our U St. expedition is the chic French restaurant Bistro La Bonne. Formerly Axis bar and grill this rustic café serves up traditional French cuisine to the culturally diverse U St. corridor. I for one was ecstatic when it opened last year mainly because French cuisine is heavily confined to Georgetown and North Dupont.
My first encounter was for a quick beer last summer before I started blogging. I remember enjoying the décor, the exposed brick lined with French memorabilia really gives it a European vibe. I had meant to return but put if off for a while until this month when I entertained two great friends.
Our evening started off by arriving past our reservation time. Being a Saturday night on U St. this spells nothing but problems as they were booked out with the occasional couple coming in to try and snag any available table. After waiting for a bit we decided to get ordering our meals from the bar.
We decided to start off our meal with one of the most popular French/Belgian dishes moules en frites. Served in a bucket with your choice of broth these crustaceans are one of the restaurants most popular dishes and happy hour special. If you are daring you can create your own stew by adding a variety of ingredients.
Our bartender recommended that we order the Moules Mariniere which are steamed in white wine and topped with shallots, garlic and parsley. His advice was spot on, we all enjoyed it so much so that one of my friends began drinking the broth and soaking it up with our complimentary bread.
Next I decided to order a side of Ratatouille. A cornerstone of French culture this peasant dish is simple yet masterful in the flavors it evokes, enough even to warm the heart of the harshest food critique (movie reference here). I have never tried this dish and was never able to find it at any French restaurant that I have been to so I was ecstatic to find out that it was served here. I enjoyed my introduction to the dish and hope to try it elsewhere so that I have a proper barometer.
Next we decided to exit peasentry and order a more bourgeois dish. We ordered a plate of escargot and French Rooster. The escargot which deviates from its traditional serving comes out of the shell. They were far better than the escargot I had at Bistro Francais and Cafe La Ruche mainly because the butter and garlic was nowhere near as overwhelming to the palate. The seasoning and proportions fared well and were fantastic both by themselves or atop of a fresh piece of French bread.
Our last dish was the aforementioned rooster that both friend and I wanted to order prior to coming here. I was simply interested in tasting the differences between a rooster and a hen. Our meal came in a warm pot and was prepared as a stew with an assortment of vegetables, tortellini all atop a creamy sauce. To put it simply the dish was fantastic. The juicy and succulent chicken was cooked perfectly and the sauce emanated with flavor. We both took our turns devouring this dish and were promptly thrown into a food coma.
In the end we were all pleasantly satisfied with the overall meal which was fairly priced for what we ate. We decided to skip on dessert mainly because of our current condition and somehow managed to lift ourselves from our state of comatose and hit up the bars on U St.
(Coq au Vin)
Overall I was pleased with my experience. The food is great, the prices are reasonable and the service was prompt, I look forward to coming here in the summer for a happy hour and enjoy their outdoor seating which is confined to three tables.
I want to return to try their French Onion Soup, Quiche Loraine and Brunch all of which have received rave reviews. So if you are on U St. I would give this place a shot, their take on French cuisine follows the norm and they have a number of unique dishes that are sure to impress.