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Classical French Restaurants


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I'm a couple weeks behind in my writing, and am starting to wonder if I'll ever catch up. But just in case I don't, I'm going to throw this statement out for public consumption:

Bistro Bis needs to be considered as one of the best classical French restaurants in the area right now. I originally typed "the best," but there are Marcel's and Bistrot Le Zinc to consider also.

I would add Cafe du Parc to the short list.

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Gerrard's Place before it closed was classic French. When I think classic French now, I think Bistro Bistro in Shirlington and Village Bistro in Rosslyn, although both are only middlin' good.

Here are Village Bistro's meat entrees. Looks like they have changed their offerings a bit.

Grilled Chicken Breast With cappellini and tomato oregano

Veal Toscana With grilled eggplant, fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce and veal reduction

Veal Scallopini Sauted with wild mushrooms and cognac cream sauce

Chicken Breast Picatta with cappellini and tomato sauce

Chicken Breast Marsala with mushrooms and marsala wine

Chicken Breast Parmmesan with cappellini and tomato sauce

Veal Picatta with lemon butter and capers

Veal Parmesan with linguini marinara or vegetables and mashed potatoes

Veal Saltimboca with sage, proscuitto and red wine reduction

N.Y Strip Steak grilled with wild mushrooms and red wine sauce

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For me, Bistro Provence is very close to tops. My last meal there was one of the best I've had in a very long time. The baby squid is out of this world, as were the sea scallops. There is a subtlety and refinement to the food at Provence that is just quintessentially French to me. It's not overdone or Americanized beyond recognition.

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I always liked going over to La Côte D'Or Café & The Bistro des Célestins (sorry, had to cut and paste that didn't know how to spell it :mellow: ) when I lived in East Falls Church. I still swing by more rarely though I do really like the casual side...

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Le Chaumiere in G-town tops my list - very old school and La Fourchette in Adams-Morgan should also be considered.

That would be La for both. While La Fourchette has always had a solid French bistrot menu, the last couple of times I've eaten there the execution was pretty atrocious, and I say that regretfully, having loved La Fourchette for many years.

I'm not sure what "classical French" is intended to mean, though. I would have thought it referred to more upscale establishments, like the grand old Lion d'Or, Rive Gauche, or Sans Souci, or indeed Gerard's Place or one of Yannick Cam's places, rather than some of the not very upscale restaurants being mentioned here. I've never been to Bistro Bis, so I can't derive a frame of reference from Rocks's original post. Marcel's, which he mentions, is certainly rather grand.

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That would be La for both. While La Fourchette has always had a solid French bistrot menu, the last couple of times I've eaten there the execution was pretty atrocious, and I say that regretfully, having loved La Fourchette for many years.

Quel embarassing! Le it is! To think I bothered to double check that one year of French I had in college with google and still screwed it up.

I have not been to La Fourchette in a few years and am saddened to hear that they have slipped so much. C'est plutot triste.

I stand by La Chaumiere and second the vote for Marcel's.

Sadly there's nothing like Lion d'Or around anymore as far as I know. I'm not sure it is supportable anymore.

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Quel embarassing! Le it is! To think I bothered to double check that one year of French I had in college with google and still screwed it up.

I have not been to La Fourchette in a few years and am saddened to hear that they have slipped so much. C'est plutot triste.

I stand by La Chaumiere and second the vote for Marcel's.

Sadly there's nothing like Lion d'Or around anymore as far as I know. I'm not sure it is supportable anymore.

FWIW, L'Auberge Chez Francois now has tables OUTDOORS by candlelight and tiki torches, that are incredibly atmospheric and romantic. They are first come, first serve for dinner. L'Auberge will take reservations for inside but not for these. You can only show up and ask for them. Given very good Alsatian French this is an extraordinary experience well worth the trip from downtown into the Virginia countryside. It is really special.

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Not to be to picky, but cafes and bistros are not "classical French restaurants." (Places like Bistro Bis, which call themselves a "bistro" but offer restaurant-level prices, dishes and service can be). Without hewing to closely to the "technical" difference between a cafe and a bistro (and a brasserie), let's just say that a harried server slinging steak frites -- regardless of how good they are -- do not a "restaurant" make. A certain relaxed formality in atmosphere, stately pacing and technically proficient service are required. L'Auberge, La Chaumiere, Marcel's...these could be considered classically French.

I am waiting for a return to my first, dimly-remembered experiences at really old school French places -- Rive Gauche and Sans Souci -- where aging jacketed waiters with French accents wheeled their carts tableside and flambeed your steak or sauced your lobster while you looked on. That was serious classic French.

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Bistro D'Oc in Penn Quarter should be an addition to the list. They certainly have not altered their classically French menu to pander to the hordes of tourists wandering by en route to the Hard Rock Cafe. I just watched a family wearing matching FBI t-shirts attempt to interpret the menu offerings and price fixe lunch. The restaurant is so classically French that their 1's look lik 7's ($15.95 appearing to be $75.95) which was more horrifying to the family of super sleuths than the escargot, boudin noir, or cervelle d'agneau.

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Not to be to picky, but cafes and bistros are not "classical French restaurants."

Agree. When I read the name of this thread I immediately thought of La Chaumiere and not, though I love the place, Bistro D'Oc. Perhaps if the thread were titled "traditional" rather than "classical" the two types of establishments could reasonably coexist on the list.

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