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dcandohio

Le Grenier, Casual French on H Street NE From the Owners of Le Chat Noir

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Anyone been? We saw this last night as we walked from Liberty Tree, so we popped in for a glass of wine. Nice marble bar, cozy feel, two levels for dining, some pretty lighting and drapery. Manager (?) said owners are the same as Le Chat Noir. We glanced at the menu, which seemed to cover a lot of traditional bistro fare at reasonable prices.

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I popped in for a snack at the bar when it first opened. I had a ginger champagne cocktail and a tuna avocado appetizer. The place is very romantic, dark, etc., and the menu has reasonable prices, all just as dcandohio points out.

I had high hopes for the cocktail, because IMO no cocktail venue on H Street NE has distinguished itself ever since the demise of SOVA's program. Immediately disappointed that the drink was served in a martini glass, as the recipe only used a splash of champagne and it was not really all that bubbly. So a signalling failure on the menu, and the recipe was a bit heavy-handed on the ginger to boot.

The tuna appetizer was not tuna tartare, but rather a tuna salad (I don't know if it was canned, but that was my impression), served in an halved avocado. A bit awkward, as the avocado was still in its shell and wanted to roll off my plate anytime I tried to dig in. It was fine, and maybe that is what I should have expected for the $7 or $8.

But I would go back, with an understanding that the restaurant is more about a mood than it is about exploring food.

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My wife and I went once for dinner a couple of weeks ago, which we ate at the bar. Agree with David that the place looks and feels great, and I am happy that it is there. The food is good, but nothing particularly special. We went to Montmartre the next night, and there is no comparison between the two on food.

Did not try the cocktails, but wasn't particularly excited about them after reading the menu and watching the bartender in action. Our hunt for good cocktails on H continues (with the exception, in my opinion, of the Atlas Room).

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The wife and I tried to walk in to Boundary Road Friday night but the place was packed. Walking east to the center of the action on H we passed Le Grenier, a brand-new French restaurant I recall reading about but couldn't find mentioned here.

We walked in to a fairly crowded restaurant, with (kind of loud) French standards on the sound system. The host/waiter found two spots for us at the bar. Immediate first impressions: an attractive, unique, dark space with fun decor (a french horn on the wall, a black and white film projected through the window, so on). Reminded me of an eccentric aunt's sitting room, with the lights lowered. Upon being seated we were handed menus stapled within old french "cahiers," the type a Parisian elementary school student would use. Cute! Two warm, good pieces of baguette came gratis.

As an app we split the tartelette du provence. Advertised as a tart of ratatouille, it seemed to me basically a tomato tart with comte cheese. That's not a knock -- it was really good, with perfectly cooked puff pastry and just enough cheese to salt things up without overwhelming the tomato. I would have liked to have had more ratatouille flavor, perhaps from some more eggplant, but the dish itself was quite good. The mains were a mixed bag -- she had an excellent coq au vin, while my seafood stew was awkwardly served in a high-sided bowl black bowl which in the very dark dining room made the components impossible to see. It was advertised as "spicy," but felt only "spiced." That's a pet peeve though. Your mileage may vary. Flavor-wise it was thoroughly OK.

Dessert was a rhubarb crepe, which we ordered without whipped cream but came with it anyway. A little too sweet for my taste, but not bad.

Le Grenier has only been open for nine weeks, and is getting savaged on Yelp. I can understand some of the quibbles -- the pacing between courses bordered on glacial, likely because of the Friday night crowd and what I suspect is a small kitchen. Service at the bar was a bit inattentive, but not unpleasantly so. But this is a young restaurant working the kinks out. I know nothing about the owners, but suspect they are aware of the various issues. They have a second floor seating area that warrants checking out some time. The western end of H St NE isn't nearly as developed as its eastern sibling, and a new addition is very welcome.

-- -- -- --

Hello! Long time lurker, former prolific poster, faded away due to a mix of world travels and that pesky thing called "life." Now temporarily free from the chains of bureaucracy and a full time student. I hope to post a bit more now, and when I jump abroad again next summer. Don's posts on the PS7 thread were inspirational. Also, Don -- just saw an older thread on Le Grenier just as I posted this. Whoops! Please feel free to move my post. I can't seem to figure out how.

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Don's posts on the PS7 thread were inspirational.

I regret half of what I wrote on that thread, just as I knew I would. I'm not saying I don't mean it; only that I knew I'd regret saying it - I deleted my first post for the time being, although I may restore it, I don't know.

Your triathlon pictures (or whatever insane workouts you do) on FB are what's truly inspirational.

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Went for dinner with the wife and babe on Wednesday evening. We first ate at Le Grenier during their first couple months of operation and were decidedly underwhelmed. Recent comments in a Kliman chat made me want to give it another shot, and I'm glad we did. Standouts were a shaved fennel and pear salad that was inexplicably served in tiny bowl that made eating it nearly impossible, which was too bad, because it was a great salad. The blood sausage served with carmelized pears and spaetzle in a dijon sauce was fantastic...an opinion shared by our 8 month old.

We floated out of the restaurant on a parenting-high, as the manager came over and began speaking to us in French (which we don't speak), convinced we could not possibly be American, what with us dining out with our well-behaved infant and all.

We'll definitely put Le Grenier back in the rotation, especially if our parenting is complimented each time. ;)

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Ate at Grenier for the first time last Thursday, and would concur with the mixed bag theories of above - but walked away happy and will be back.

The Good:

The Boudin Noir. JoshNE is absolutely correct. Crack on a plate, perfectly done with a crisp outside an d juicy delicious center. Oh my.

The charcuterie plate. Far from the area's best, but well presented with good product - and without being ridiculously priced (which I will praise Grenier for throughout)

The Blah-d:

They had a lamb "stew/tajine/daube" on the menu for which I can't remember it's official name. It was good not great, and it peeves me to see a bowl of stew come out with no accompaniments at all - at least put a salad leaf on the side, otherwise advertise it as "bowl of meat"

The Ugly:

The daily special of the salmon. Badly overcooked and they didn't care.

The service. Sporadic at best, it felt like the waiter was suffering from a bi-polar disorder (which I do not mean to demean in any way) - but one moment he was friendly and efficient, then would disappear and have to recalled begrudgingly - in a repetitive cycle throughout the evening. And no, he was not busy.

The under-valued:

The wine list is actually very reasonable. It is not huge, but has sensible selections at sensible prices - more restaurants in DC should do the same.]

The Calvados! Chateau Breuil is one of my favorite Calva's available, and a very rare find in DC (for restaurateur's, Winebow has it). Although Grenier only has the base model, at least they have it.

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Hey guys! My name's Logan, and I'm the bartender at Le Grenier...wanted to let you all know that we just updated our cocktail list today for the new season. This Friday, everyone's welcome to come in for one free cocktail of your choice. Stop by and check us out, and enjoy a delicious, hand-crafted cocktail for free! Cheers!

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I took Logan up on his Friday night offer, and am pleased to report that Le Grenier is putting out some very nice custom cocktails at bargain happy hour prices. I had the French Riviera, which featured Amaro, Campari, St. Germain, and some other ingredients I can't recall, but it made for a Negroni-like sweet and tart refresher. I would have gone for another at $5 happy-hour prices, but it was boozy enough to make me think twice. Instead, I opted for a nice rosé and settled in for a meal (the least I could do in exchange for the free cocktail). The Tartlette Parisienne was a nice-sized savory starter; the only oddity was the slice of brie that sat awkwardly atop the mushrooms. Les trois petits cochons featured three modest slabs of pork (slightly overcooked) on what were advertised as zucchini-roquefort-potato galettes but seemed more like miniature omelettes or souffles, topped with a chutney, and surrounded with a light mustard sauce. Not really a summery dish, it fell a bit short of its promise. Based on this limited taste, I can't really get on board with Todd Kliman's recent raves; Le Diplomate is clearly superior, as is Montmartre. But this is still a welcome place; the drinks program is superior to Montmartre, the happy hours are customer friendly, and Logan is a fine bartender. Go in with modest expectations, and you'll likely go home happy.

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Hey guys! Logan here again. DonRocks and I were chatting and he encouraged me to mention our current specials.

As this Sunday is Bastille Day (vive la France!), the plan right now is to have free baguettes all day, an all-day happy hour (half off) on a limited cocktail menu, and free Kronenbourg from 5-7!

As to our regular specials and deals, Tuesdays from 5-7 p.m. we have half off all wines by the glass and all cheese and charcuterie, and Wednesday through Sunday from 5-7 p.m. is our happy hour, during which all cocktails, wines by the glass, and beers are half off. Wednesday nights we also offer half off all our wines by the bottle. Finally, this week we shifted to our new Summer menu, so we have all-new appetizers, entrees, galettes, and crepes, as well as a few new cheeses.

Stop by and say hi! Cheers!

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