Address: 15 E Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20001
Last week was D.C.’s Winter Restaurant Week, and I’d have felt remiss if I extended my streak of not participating to three in a row. After talking with my friends Andy and Emily, we decided on taking a visit to Bistro Bis after looking through a number of Restaurant Week menus.
The restaurant sits on the Senate side of the Capitol and is a short walk from the Union Station Metro stop. The interior design gives off a very modern feel, the natural cherry wood contrasting well with the use of glass panes and mirrors throughout the restaurant. A second tier dining area that overlooked the main dining room floor was incorporated into the restaurant’s design; after we were joined by our friends Mark, Sarah, Jon, and Amy, our host led us upstairs to our table.
Bistro Bis had a surprisingly large selection of dishes available on their Restaurant Week menu, with the appetizer and entrée section each containing at least five or six options. There were a lot of things that sounded real good and I wished that I could have ordered multiple dishes, but in the end, I went with the steak tartare appetizer and the beef bourguignon entrée.
Now, I’m not usually one to go around eating raw meat or raw eggs, so the steak tartare was a step outside the norm for me. But after taking a few bites, I started to really enjoy it. The sirloin was cut into even sized chunks, and the quail egg yolk added the moisture to bind the meat together. The porcini mushroom jam added a little bit of savory flavor to contrast everything else.
After finishing the tartare, I set my sights on the beef bourguignon. It was a dish that I had seen several times on cooking shows but never eaten, so I was excited to see if it was as good as it looked. I can tell you now that indeed it was. The short ribs, mushrooms, and onions were slow cooked perfectly; the meat was tender enough that I didn’t even need a knife to cut it. The flavor from the red wine braise was evident throughout the dish and really tied everything together.
This was my second experience with French food, with the first time a few years ago not going as well. I’m glad to say that Bistro Bis restored an appreciation for French food from the quality of the dishes I tried as well as the elegant presentation that French food is known for. I’m not always in the mood to go out for French food, but now I know a spot in the Capitol Hill neighborhood if I am.
Let’s now take a look at the Bistro Bis Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.
** Steak Tartare Attila **
Hand cut sirloin with quail egg, porcini jam, salsify salad, and crisp potato slices.
** Beef Bourguignon **
Boneless short rib braised in red wine with trumpet mushrooms and pearl onions.
Torte aux Chocolat
Valhrona cake with chocolate ganache, berry gelée, peanut butter mousse, and caramelized peanuts.
And finally, here are my rankings for Bistro Bis:
Food: 5 / 5
Both of the quality and the presentation of the dishes were excellent. In addition to my own impressions, everyone around me commented about how good their food was. The menu’s offerings span a number of different meats and seafood, giving diners a good selection.
Atmosphere: 4.5 / 5
Like I had mentioned above, the restaurant’s décor and architecture really help to give off a more modern feel, with the brightly-lit dining areas adding a sense of elegance to the meal.
Service: 4.5 / 5
Our waitstaff was attentive and came around multiple times during the meal to make sure we were good for our drinks and clearing away finished plates. The food also came out of the kitchen within a reasonable time.
Price: 4.25 / 5
Granted, my impression of Bistro Bis’s prices comes from the prix fixe price of Restaurant Week, but I think that it’s telling how a restaurant tailors their portions based on that RW price. That mentality in most cases will carry over to the regular menu as well, and I think some of the restaurant’s dishes are at a good price point, while others might be a little too much.