Jump to content
Rieux

La Bonne Bistro (Formerly Bistro La Bonne), Chef Daniel La Bonne's French Bistro - Reopened on 14th and Chapin Street in South Columbia Heights - Closed

Recommended Posts

Surprised no one has yet opened a thread on Bistro La Bonne. It recently opened in the nondescript place at 1340 U st where Axis was formerly. There has been practically no press on this, so it looks like they are trying to slide into their opening.

Looking forward to having another French bistro near my place, we tried it out last weekend. We had heard the chef had been previously at Tabaq (negative points) and Bistrot du Coin (positive points).

It was full at 8:30 on Saturday night (a good sign) so we sat at the bar and had a drink while we waited for a table. The bartenders and staff seem to be the same as from Axis. They always had a good bartender, so I am glad to see he is still there. They also still have a pretty good beer list (I settled for a Leffe Brun on tap) and they said they expect to get even more (mainly Belgians) in the coming months. After about 10 minutes a table opened up and we sat.

The interior has changed a bit - some French posters and signs on the walls - but that's about it. Even though the menu had a number of really good sounding plates, the three of us were feeling like traditionalists, I guess, as one person got the house salad as a starter and the other two of us had the bibb salad. Both were very large for the price and for an appetizer and very good. Good quality produce and nice dressing. Both of us with the bibb salad thought it was one of the best in town (and definintely better than the bibb salad at Marvin, which usually comes out with no bibb lettuce and mesclun instead). The house salad was pronounced good by my friend.

All of us had the steak frite for an entree. And, again, we all liked it. Two of them came out just barely above the ordered level of done-ness. My medium rare was not very red in the center and my +1s Medium was a bit gray, but flavorwise they were spot on. Great seasonings, a large piece of good quality meat, and a bargain at $15.95. The bernaise and the fries were also very good. All in all, we thought the salad and steak was a tad better than Bistrot du Coin (our favorite local hangout) and the fries and bernaise were just as good.

We did not order dessert, but they looked to be a mixed bag of very good looking tarts and leaden looking mousses.

Our main quibble would be with the obviously overworked and distracted service. It's their first month, so maybe it will get better. It wasn't awful, but could have been a touch more attentive. It wouldn't keep us away. The general sentiment was that this is a good to very good place for french staples. The atmosphere is not the convivial fun one you get at Bistrot du Coin but the food was as good if not better. I think I'd hit La Bonne if I wanted a good, quieter calmer meal with my +1 or another couple, and Bistrot du Coin would remain my favorite for a loud, racuous, night on the town.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a very nice meal here at the bar last night with some solid French standards -- onion soup and cassoulet -- accompanied by two fantastic beers - a Founders IPA on draft and Bell's Hop Slam in bottle. Both were only $4 before 7:00, I believe, although the sign only says $4 for the drafts. They maintain a very solid beer list here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have not been, but looking over the wine list at the restaurants web site, I notice that they Corbieres which to me is a quitacential bistro wines, for my taste and the who bistro vibe, I do wish they would trade out the Argentinian Malbec for a Cahors.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have not been, but looking over the wine list at the restaurants web site, I notice that they Corbieres which to me is a quitacential bistro wines, for my taste and the who bistro vibe, I do wish they would trade out the Argentinian Malbec for a Cahors.

But why? Argentinian malbecs have different flavor profiles from Cahors, and, I'm sure I don't have to tell you, sell like wildfire. As the French sometimes say, "C'est le meme, mais' c'est different".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But why? Argentinian malbecs have different flavor profiles from Cahors, and, I'm sure I don't have to tell you, sell like wildfire. As the French sometimes say, "C'est le meme, mais' c'est different".

I understand it makes complete business sense to have the Argentinean Malbec, I was just commenting on where my taste for Malbec lies - the absence of a Cahors would not stop me from trying and hopefully enjoying the restaurant.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I understand it makes complete business sense to have the Argentinean Malbec, I was just commenting on where my taste for Malbec lies - the absence of a Cahors would not stop me from trying and hopefully enjoying the restaurant.

Thread drift alert, I had a Cahors last week at Bistro Cacao (get the onglet ordered a point or medium-rare, trust me!) and it was too inky. My tastes tend to align with Sthitch's, but this was an example of a Cahors at a French bistro that just didn't work (the GM tried it for the first time also and made a face).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

it was too inky.

Well they were not joking when they nicknamed it "the black wine". Clos La Coutale, one of Kermit Lynch's imports, is a stunning example of what Cahors can rise to.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Two nights in a row for me at Bistro La Bonne, this time grabbing a table with my wife. Similar experience as the previous night - good, solid dishes. I don't see this being a place where the preparations are going to be knock-you-over-the-head spectacular, but we were happy with the quality last night of the lobster bisque, a frisee salad with warm goat cheese and toasted walnuts (loved the dressing on this), trout with butter sauce, and entrecote with bernaise sauce. The only real miss was the profiteroles for dessert, which were hard and tasted old.

Again the beer list did not disappoint, with an Arrogant Bastard Ale going quite well with my steak. I do wish the menu would tell you what kind of "Chardonnay" or "Malbec" they're planning on serving you by the glass, though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Stopped in for a quick dinner last week. While I'm no expert, their version had good beef and onion flavor and a nice, not-too-thick, cheese-crouton on top--a very generous serving. The hanger steak and frites were also well executed and generous. Service was good. My only concern is that the place seems to be lacking bistro ambiance. Perhaps better lighting fixtures are needed?

-Ed

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a very nice meal here at the bar last night with some solid French standards -- onion soup and cassoulet -- accompanied by two fantastic beers - a Founders IPA on draft and Bell's Hop Slam in bottle. Both were only $4 before 7:00, I believe, although the sign only says $4 for the drafts. They maintain a very solid beer list here.

They had pretty good beers before when they were Axis. Did they merely redesign the menu?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They had pretty good beers before when they were Axis. Did they merely redesign the menu?

The menu redesign is the only substantive change. Same great, rotating tap selection. Most of the same staff and most of the same furniture. They just hung a bunch of french posters and artwork, to give it a little more of a bistro feel.

I haven't eaten here yet, but as the atmosphere and the beer selection are unchanged from the Axis era, it won't be long.

Alex

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The menu redesign is the only substantive change.

Well, the chef is new. That's a pretty big change. I was also told by one of the staff there that the chef has joined the ownership group.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Surprised no one has yet opened a thread on Bistro La Bonne. It recently opened in the nondescript place at 1340 U st where Axis was formerly. There has been practically no press on this, so it looks like they are trying to slide into their opening.

Have to agree that they are sort of rocking an "under the radar" vibe -- the whole space is easy to pass by, and dining outside -- even in lovely weather -- is really more of an "enjoy U street" *snrk* experience than anything else. That's not really meant as an indictment, though, as it was really nice out tonight. Also, not only did I not even experience the indoor space, but the outdoor is not a negative, unless the liquor store across the street persists in blasting some nameless thumping horror that invades your brain and demands attention. Um, not that I speak from experience (oh thank goodness it was finally turned off).

Two nights in a row for me at Bistro La Bonne, this time grabbing a table with my wife. Similar experience as the previous night - good, solid dishes. I don't see this being a place where the preparations are going to be knock-you-over-the-head spectacular, but we were happy with the quality last night

I would concur that nothing is knock-your-socks-off, but there's a lot of solid execution going on at Bistro la Bonne, and that's nice to see. Frankly, I'm kind of old school in certain ways; if a French bistro really wants to go that route, I'm going to look not for innovation but for top-notch delivery of standards. For the most part, I have to say that a meal here is soul-satisfying, and also reassures me that they are at least striving for the same thing I'm looking for. Pissaladiere, crispy puff pastry topped with caramelized onions, olives and marinated anchovy ($9.95) may not be an entirely authentic version, given the puff pastry, but man are those anchovies and onions good. I may be a sucker for both those ingredients, but these were really nice, and the dish, particularly when shared, was a nice way to start an evening. The paté de campagne ($6.95) is nothing revelatory -- although, according to the website, mentioned in the WaPo's Going Out Guide -- but the nicely (perhaps slightly over)dressed greens make up for it, and it's definitely got nice flavor and texture.

I'm kind of incapable of not ordering duck when I see it on a menu -- when it's good it's great, and when it's bad, well, caveat emptor -- so my dining companion and I split the Magret de Canard au Cinq Epices et Son Confit de Caingnard, roasted 5 spices duck breast, leg duck confit with a sweet potato and potatoe {sic} gratin, ratatouille & port wine sauce ($20.95). I could tell a story here about my French family and a summer week spent eating the best, freshest ratatouille on earth, but it's immaterial, because this dish was not elegant but was totally a satiating dish for the soul. The potatoes were creamy and earthy, the elements of the ratatouille retaining their bite, and the duck delicious (I would have preferred a few more slices of the duck breast, but the ones we had were perfectly cooked to the desired medium-rare, and well-seasoned). This dish was like a lighter version of cassoulet (also on their menu): homey, earthy, tasty, and completely satisfying.

I have no idea who the people are who are running this place, but after a few interactions our waiter (host? GM? he was everywhere out front, in snazzy orange-and-green suspenders) realized we spoke French and lapsed into it with us. I don't live close enough to U Street to make this place a regular stop, but I have a feeling that were I able to make myself a regular, I'd find myself speaking French with the staff and feeling like I'm back in Lyon or Limoges ... and oh could I go for that right now. A decidedly pleasant evening, and I'd go back, for sure.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I dined with friends at Bistro La Bonne on Sunday evening. They were not very busy, and the place felt more like a bar than a bistro, but that's probably because there was a small but very noisy crowd at the bar and very few patrons at the tables. Service was good and completely unfussy. I started with the lobster and crab bisque, which was wonderfully creamy and delicious, and proceeded to the steak frites. The steak was cooked as ordered, and was flavorful and a little chewy, just as you'd get in Paris. The frites were great. We had some nice, cheap wine. I didn't sample my friends' dishes, but one of them had the roast chicken, which came surprisingly doused with tomato sauce, which my friend characterized as kind of Chef Boyardee. I liked the place, but wouldn't order the roast chicken unless they promised there would be no tomato sauce involved.

We reminisced about U Street as it used to be, marveling at its transformation. And then Tuesday. Holy crap.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I didn't sample my friends' dishes, but one of them had the roast chicken, which came surprisingly doused with tomato sauce, which my friend characterized as kind of Chef Boyardee. I liked the place, but wouldn't order the roast chicken unless they promised there would be no tomato sauce involved.

We reminisced about U Street as it used to be, marveling at its transformation. And then Tuesday. Holy crap.

When I had the chicken it came with a rich brown sauce, with no discernable tomato. I wonder if the sauce has changed? The chicken was very good, but next time I'll definitely inquire about the sauce. Chef Boyardee = yuk.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For a cold night, the leg of lamb dish here listed under the entrees (not listed on the website menu) was pure comfort food. Fall-apart tender lamb, a lot of it, in a rich stew with stock, carrots, pearl onions and wine, I believe. It was delicious. +1 had the pureed lentil soup and a hanger steak. The soup was wonderfully seasoned with a deep lentil flavor. Between the lamb and the soup, I think one would do very well here ordering anything slow cooked in one pot...this place puts out some very fine rustic dishes. So go while the weather is cold and wet.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
For a cold night, the leg of lamb dish here listed under the entrees (not listed on the website menu) was pure comfort food. Fall-apart tender lamb, a lot of it, in a rich stew with stock, carrots, pearl onions and wine, I believe. It was delicious. +1 had the pureed lentil soup and a hanger steak. The soup was wonderfully seasoned with a deep lentil flavor. Between the lamb and the soup, I think one would do very well here ordering anything slow cooked in one pot...this place puts out some very fine rustic dishes. So go while the weather is cold and wet.

Is this the Navarin d'Agneau that I've raved about in the Dining Guide and on Twitter (but not on this thread)? If so, I've ordered it the last two times I've come, and it is fantastic (although mine has used cube meat; not a leg). This dish works really well with an $8 glass of Côtes du Rhone red (a good, earthy Côtes du Rhone and a fairly generous pour). To me, Bistro La Bonne is the place that Bistrot du Coin has never been.

I didn't think any restaurant could displace Bistro La Bonne from the top of U Street, but that was before I tried Izakaya Seki.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is this the Navarin d'Agneau that I've raved about in the Dining Guide and on Twitter (but not on this thread)? If so, I've ordered it the last two times I've come, and it is fantastic (although mine has used cube meat; not a leg). This dish works really well with an $8 glass of Côtes du Rhone red (a good, earthy Côtes du Rhone and a fairly generous pour). To me, Bistro La Bonne is the place that Bistrot du Coin has never been.

I didn't think any restaurant could displace Bistro La Bonne from the top of U Street, but that was before I tried Izakaya Seki.

We live nearby and have tried this place several times, hit and miss for us, so this whets my appetite to try it again. The last time I went, simply ordered the Frisée Aux Lardons -- the "softly poached egg" had been cooked in the microwave in a silicone mold (criminal), refrigerated for storage (which I realize is a common practice, but -->), and had been plopped on top of the salad without being warmed, was cold to the core of the yolk. Husband (a French chef, knows the people there) and I were incredulous on many levels. Haven't been back since.

But that lamb sounds amazing. And I want to love the place. So will go back and give it another whirl. Thanks DCandOhio and Don for the encouragement with that lamb description!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Is this the Navarin d'Agneau that I've raved about in the Dining Guide and on Twitter (but not on this thread)? If so, I've ordered it the last two times I've come, and it is fantastic (although mine has used cube meat; not a leg).

Yes, I think so. The menu said leg of lamb. But the meat was in cubes. It was sooooo good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, I think so. The menu said leg of lamb. But the meat was in cubes. It was sooooo good.

I agree, but unfortunately I thought the Frisée Salad with Lardons was good, too; now, Night Owl has me doubting myself!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree, but unfortunately I thought the Frisée Salad with Lardons was good, too; now, Night Owl has me doubting myself!

Not at all! More likely I had an off night there. The dressing for the salad was good!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not at all! More likely I had an off night there. The dressing for the salad was good!

I very much trust what you say about the egg.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First time dining at this bistro; unfortunately, they did not shine for Bastille Day. Service issues were glaring, and not just at our table. I saw three parties leave in frustration over the wait. Two tables in my line of sight had to flag down servers (one leaving his seat to do so) to have their silverware replenished when their mains arrived. Why do they deliver a bread basket and no bread plates? Drinks took forever to arrive from the downstairs bar (which was mostly emptly). My dining companion's bronzino looked good (I did not sample it). And the Navarin d'Agneau, which I ordered based on the accolades it received up thread, did not thrill. I'm not much of a cook, but I can produce a sauce more flavorful just by following Anthony Bordain's recipe. At least half of the stew meat was mealy. I really hate writing this. I had first planned on dining at the corporate carpetbagger Le Diplomat, but decided to go with an independent local establishment for our BD celebration. Given the praise of others, I suspect that our experience was an anomaly, but next July 14 we will probably return to one of our usual haunts for French fare.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...