Bistrot du Coin: Restaurant Review

Bistrot du Coin
1738 Connecticut Avenue
Washington, DC, 20009
(202) 234 6969
http://www.bistrotducoin.com/

When Jay’s parents first flew into DC to visit us, we wanted to go somewhere fun and good for dinner, but somewhere that wouldn’t require a lot of effort to prepare for. Jay and I threw around a few ideas, mainly in the Dupont and Georgetown neighborhoods. I don’t think we even really solidified a decision until we stepped off the bus in Dupont. Once we started walking around, I remembered that I had eated at Bistrot du Coin for lunch with my friend Rachel earlier in the summer, and that I had loved it. Jay’s parents liked the idea, so we headed there.

When we arrived, the place was packed. And loud, but not in a bad way. Nevertheless, the amount of people made me wary, so when we were told we would only have a 15 minute wait, I was thrilled. We popped over to the likewise crowded bar, where I was sad to learn that they were out of French cider, something that I wanted to try, but there were plenty of other wine options.

We were seated fairly quickly, but it took even less time for my mother-in-law, Nancy, to declare that she really liked the place. The bar was almost standing room only (I snuck a stool somehow), but the crowd was boisterous and energetic. The inside of restaurant itself is rustic, with wine specials written up on oversized rolls of white paper and the wait-staff wearing T-shirts, and the casualness blended and enhanced the energy of the diners. You could almost say that the atmosphere was infectious, and before we even sat down, we were already having a great time. (As a side note, although an important one, like footnotes in a Supreme Court decision, the host of the restaurant, on finding our group to seat us, pointed at my skirt and said, “The fishes! I was looking for the fishes! That’s what I wrote down in my book on how to remember you.” I was wearing an orange skirt with white fishes. It’s little things like this that suffuse your meal experience with a warmth and personal quality that is hard to come by).

This was one of those pull out all the stops, order the richest, most decadent thing you can imagine type dinners. After arriving with promptness (another plus!), our waitress told us about the specials, one of which was a lobster salad with avocado. This is just couldn’t pass up. Nevermind the fact that it had mayonnaise, one of my food aversions, it sounded too good to pass up. Plus, given the fact that this is a pretty damn good and authentic bistro, I figured that they probably made it themselves.

The lobster was plump and luscious and paired very well with the buttery-ness of the avocado and the cleanness of the tomato. The mayo sauce wasn’t even that bad! It had a sort of biting flavor and nice acidity that countered the richness of the avocado.

Jay and his dad split one of the many mussel pots as an appetizer. When I came here earlier with my friend Rachel for lunch, each of us got a mussel pot, and they were absolutely fabulous. The mussels themselves were a nice size and the broth was complex, flavorful, and absolutely FABULOUS. The waitress at dinner had to bring us more bread so we could sop it all up. Even though Jay and his dad were delivered the wrong kind of mussel pot, the one they got was so good that they didn’t even care. This particular one had lots of diced tomato and herbs. If I could have fit it into my purse, I probably would have contemplating stealing the pot that the mussels came in, but then that would be breaking the law and I want to be a big fancy lawyer when I grow up some day.

I had a little bit harder time deciding which entree to order than I did with which appetizer to order. I wanted to get something characteristically French, which was hard NOT to do here. I entertained ideas of getting something “light,” but only briefly. Mainly I was torn between rabbit stew and a puff pasty with chicken and sweetbreads, and also between whether or not I wanted a steak. I have a very special place in my heart for sweetbreads, so I decided to go with the bouchee a la reine.

A lot of people I know say that they don’t like sweetbreads, but this is a very good dish if you want to try to like them. The texture and size of the sweetbreads was almost identical to the pieces of chicken, so you really couldn’t tell that you were eating sweetbreads. That, and the cream sauce covering everything had a flavor that really dominated the dish. It was rich, decadent, and amazing. I took about half of it home but never ate any, and now that I look at this picture and write this review, I’m slapping myself for never taking that to-go box out of the fridge and eating on it. (Another important aside: Nancy gave us her leftovers of the beef bourgignon, which was terrific and had an almost silky texture on its own, but which tasted even better, if you can imagine, after it had been sitting in the fridge for a while. It tasted fab even when still cold).

Not the type of girl to back down from dessert, I ordered the poire bella helene, poached pears with vanilla ice cream and a chocolate sauce. Again, I had had a hard time narrowing down my options to a single choice, but this one especially spoke to me. I also ordered some coffee.

I was a little surprised when my dessert came out as a sundae. I guess I had pictured/expected sliced poached pears on a plate with a side of ice cream, drizzled in chocolate sauce. Nevertheless, I didn’t let my expectations keep me from enjoying this dessert, and the whipped cream that enveloped it tasted so good it had to be homemade. Plus, what girl doesn’t enjoy a dessert with colorful sprinkles?

We all left dinner completely stuffed, stomachs bulging and eyes drowsy. But we had had one of the funnest dinners that any of us could remember. I think it all goes back to the energy of the crowded dining room, the warmth of the staff, the excellent food, and the casual nature of the bistro itself. You really felt like you were in some corner bar in France, eating ordinary yet quality French food, except that you could speak English without being looked down upon. Bistrot du Coin is by far one of my favorite places to eat in DC. It’s fun, great food, and casual. It almost feels like a little secret that I don’t want to let out–I don’t want too many people to go and then for the food to decline. However, given the crowd that we saw that night (people were still waiting to eat there around 10), I doubt that the number of people coming through this place will have any negative impact on the food. Everything was exceptional, and I can’t wait to go back.

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