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Bistro d'Oc, 10th Street in Penn Quarter - Chef Bernard Grenier's French Bistro near Ford's Theater - Closed


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[posted on eGullet 2003-2004]

This evening I walked past Hard Rock Café, and there were four tour buses outside, and a line stretching out the door and down the block. A half-block north was Bistro d'Oc, smack dab in the intersection of 10th and Construction, and there were two people in the restaurant when I walked in.

The owner/chef of Bistro d'Oc founded La Miche in Bethesda thirty-five years ago, and to prove it, he has this rocket-ship of a wine sitting on the bar that was presented to him as a gift when he opened La Miche: a 1982 Tayac (Cotes de Bourg) in what surely must be a Nebuchadnezzar (a 20-bottle bottle), or whatever the largest format is for a bottle of Bordeaux. This thing dwarfs the double-magnum sitting next to it, and must weigh at least 75 pounds.

Wines are skewed to the ordinary, with a predominance of selections from the Languedoc-Rousillon region of France which produces over a billion bottles of wine annually (for real!). Some of these wines might seem fairly priced in the mid-$30s, but they're actually rather expensive for the quality unless you have the knowledge to navigate through the minefield of relatively obscure producers.

The bread is freshly baked, but industrial to the point of pain (pain industriel). Vegetable soup is honest and bland, celery-based, served in a tureen with a minimum of fanfare and seasoning. Bavette of Kobe beef with blue-cheese sauce and frites was ordered medium-rare, and was perfectly cooked, even though it was probably a 9th-generation grandfather thrice-removed that was from Kobe, Japan. The blue cheese sauce was simple, with La Fourme d'Ambert (a nice surprise) as the base, made with cream and shallots. The frites were so-so, not great, not bad, crispy and correct, but lacked any sort of wow coefficient.

The owner/chef's wife is Thai, and - ha! - betcha didn't know that Bistro d'Oc is a little-known source for interesting Thai dishes within the Penn Quarter area. A crabmeat-stuffed "cigar" is basically a spring roll, the size of a gargantuan phallus, and served with seaweed and a sweet vinaigrette dipping sauce.

Dessert was a peach clafoutis with custard, and distressingly served a la mode. A freshly made dessert, but ponderous and not a real clafoutis. It was bogged down by its own custard and the giant scoop of bad ice cream on top which intercepted any serious attempt to enjoy it. A pity, because the innards weren't all that bad.

So, Bistro d'Oc is a legitimate, fairly priced Gaulois-like selection in a soon-to-be-crowded area. May as well go sooner rather than later, because once construction is complete, the place will be more crowded. Given that there were less than a dozen customers in there this evening, while Hard Rock Café had several hundred, it deserves to be mobbed, and I hope it is.

A worthwhile, well-priced restaurant, a real attempt at cuisine and even fine dining, and I'd happily return.

Cheers,
Rocks.

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this place has won my heart and stomach (the latter, much to my considerable chagrin) : and i'l tell you why: honesty. there is something so unassuming and caring about so much of bistro d'oc, both in the food and the staff and surroundings. they seem genuinely pleased to serve you their father's (yes this place is family run) rustic though refined cuisine. this goes very far in my book. that the cuisine de terroir of languedoc rousillon happens to be one near and dear to my heart almost seems like an afterthought, bistro d'oc would still woo me with its myriad charms even if they served elmer's on toast and sere desiccated fingernails with ear wax jus.

add to this a second menu of specials, nearly as long as the normal one, the swooning enticement of banyuls to finish a meal and the sort of cheery sentimental accordion driven gallic music that lilts away ever so lightly in the background and you have one hell of a restaurant.

oh, and the food is really good too.

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this place has won my heart and stomach (the latter, much to my considerable chagrin) : and i'l tell you why: honesty. there is something so unassuming and caring about so much of bistro d'oc, both in the food and the staff and surroundings. they seem genuinely pleased to serve you their father's (yes this place is family run) rustic though refined cuisine. this goes very far in my book. that the cuisine de terroir of languedoc rousillon happens to be one near and dear to my heart almost seems like an afterthought, bistro d'oc would still woo me with its myriad charms even if they served elmer's on toast and sere desiccated fingernails with ear wax jus.

add to this a second menu of specials, nearly as long as the normal one, the swooning enticement of banyuls to finish a meal and the sort of cheery sentimental accordion driven gallic music that lilts away ever so lightly in the background and you have one hell of a restaurant.

oh, and the food is really good too.

I agree. I love this place.

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Thirded. I have spent many happy lunchtimes goofing off there while eating good bistro food and drinking good Languedoc wines. It's also friendly, reasonably priced and rarely annoyingly crowded. Plus they serve brains, delicious braaaaaiiiinnnnnsssss! Much to be preferred to the rather soulless Les Halles down the road, in my humble and generally disregarded opinion.

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went there for lunch today with some colleagues

overall a nice experience, with top notch, friendly service - no pushing bottled water here folks!

We had our impoverished federal worker hats on so three of us ordered soup and a salad and the fourth a meat and pate plate and a salad

It has been years since I've had French Onion soup and this one was good - not too hot once I broke through the cheese layer, a ncie amount of onions and bread and very very tasty

I also ordered mussels in a garlic sauce/broth - these were also good, although I could have done with a few more of them and the sauce was good enough drag a few pices of bread through

bill for 4 people just under $60 before tip, and again great, friendly, unpretentious service

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We only had time for an appetizer and a glass of wine before our movie started at the cinema on E St, but nonetheless, I felt like we had lovely 20-minute vacation in France.

Try the mushroom saute-- meaty slices of mushrooms with chorizo, calamari, shrimp, and olives, with a couple of crawfish standing guard on top. When you're getting to the bottom of the bowl, sop up that herby buttery pan juice with a piece of crusty bread. It's a generous serving for $8.

The service at the bar was friendly and attentive. And it's right around the corner from E Street Cinemas where you could catch a French film and extend your vacation!

Bon voyage... :lol:

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<_< Simply delicious. I was able to sneak away from work to enjoy a late dinner. I was warmly greeted by the most polite bartender. I like very much that he addressed me as maam and not mademoiselle. I feel sometimes in ethnic restaurants you are greeted in the language that is reflective of the cuisine, I dont know. Perhaps I am rambling. Back to my point. I started with one of the daily specials- charcuterie. Divine. If anyone loves pate- being of duck or pork origin, you must visit this place. I proceded to enjoy an incredible portion of Angus tenderloin with frites. Unbelievable reasonable at only 17.95. Anyone curious about this place must pay it a visit. The menu is moderate in price. All entrees under 22- appetizers under 10, I think. The decor is charming.Cerntainly not chic by anyones definition. If you are shopping for chic, perhaps you should walk a few more steps over to Zola. But I dont recall hearing any comments about their cuisine. Bistrot D'Oc is certainly worth a second look by anyone who has not been there recently. I cerntainly have added it my favorites after only one trip.
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When my mom came out from Washington State and offered to take me out for my birthday, I thought I'd play it low key and go to Bistro d'Oc. I've often walked by it and wanted to give it a try.

We had a delightful meal full of authentic flavors from the Languedoc. The veal stew was a highlight: large chunks of tender veal lolling in rich, meaty sauce flavored with orange zest, olives, and anise. It reminded me of the braised short ribs recipe in Wolfert's slow Mediterranean cookbook. Another highpoint was the foie gras mousse with brioche, whose clean, rich taste and luscious texture transported us all to France. Braised lamb with fava beans and haricots verts, beautifully and simply served, was also a hit, as was the gazpacho with a garnish of crab meat and brunoise of summer vegetables. A moderately priced Minervois went well with everything. All in all this was very good, honest cooking, full of authentic flavor, served with friendliness and attention in a warm and welcoming setting. It's gratifying that such a restaurant can exist in the middle of all the construction and development that has gripped this part of town recently. I look forward to many repeat visits.

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In the middle of the helter-skeltering, bubbling, crowded downtown eateries where the lines of low-ridin' denim ostentation pack in five deep at the bar with their little beaks open wide in search of pomegranate margaritas, there is a tiny oasis of peace and quiet with deep orange scumble-glazed walls, warm smiles from the staff and no wait - no wait! - for a table on Saturday night. The name is Bistro d'Oc.

If for nothing else, you have to love BdO for the wild, unabashed gutsiness of dishing calf brains that one simply can't find anymore, what with mad cow and all that silliness. So the brains were there and packing quite a hefty portion, or else that calf would have been a national SAT competition finalist. Cooked perfectly to let you sink your teeth into supple, elastic flesh generously sauced in lemon and capers. Very satisfying, I can easily make a meal of that dish with a glass of wine at the bar.

The rest of the meal was serviceable but did not match the pure, gluttonous pleasure of polishing the plate of brains clean with a piece of (too) crunchy, crumbling baguette. The duck pate was a bit bland, the duck confit almost too homey, and the steak just good.

But do give them a try next time you don't want to fight the crowds in Zaytinya. At BdO, the ambience is warm and inviting, the staff genuinely try to make you feel at home, the food is comforting and occasionally delightful, and the list of specials almost as long as the regular menu. They deserve to be more popular.

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d'Oc has never been quite as good as I wish it was, and last time I was there I noticed that none of their wines by the glass featured grapes actually native to Languedoc. Costiere de Nimes Merlot just soils everyone it touches.

But they do seem to have a way with "specialty" preparations. Saying their brains were the best I've ever tasted loses force once I admit I'd never eaten brains before and that a home-cooking experiment afterwards ended badly. But they also serve up quite a crepinette which appears, in the general case , to be ground and spiced meat wrapped in caul fat (which the "crepinette") but which is in this specific case is largely composed of toothsome pig's feet. It's pretty freaking irresistable.

d'Oc, with its amiable bartenders and French club-house feel is also the launching pad of choice for attendance at any E-Street Cinema feature involving subtitles and Gerard Depardieu, Daniel Auteuil, or Audry Tatou. (Though Harry's, in the Hotel Harrington, with its monstrous martinis at miniscule prices serves well for other features).

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Ahh, French comfort food. This was our first visit and won't be our last.

Yesterday we had an early dinner at Bistro d'Oc, after attending a matinee at the Shakespeare Theatre and paying a brief visit to the recently re-opened American Art Museum/National Portrait Gallery.

Madame: mesclun lettuces w/ a subtle mustard dressing, followed by the roasted chicken w/ black truffle sauce and truffled potatoes. I'm afraid that my own roasted chicken will henceforth suffer in comparison, and deservedly so. The chicken was moist, its skin golden brown, and the sauce deeply flavorful.

Moi: salad of fresh anchovies, which had a nice balance of fishy and, from the marinade, citrus flavors, with roasted peppers and mesclun lettuces. I could eat this nearly every summer day. Main was a special of braised beef short ribs in an intense red wine/stock reduction, with portobello 'shrooms, savoy cabbage, and a potato "cake" enriched with cream and sweet with onions. Every flavor note was perfect pitch.

Service was friendly and attentive (endearing, really), without being intrusive. I don't know anything about Languedoc wines (OK, I don't know much about wine at all. Of Chianti, northern California/Oregon/Washington Pinots, Bourgogne Rouge, and Cote du Rhone, I know a little, but outside those regions I'm lost). So I asked for a recommendation from the list of Languedoc reds and was rewarded with a very nice bottle from Minervois, for $36, which provided a satisfying complement to our mains.

Damage was $120, with coffee for madame and cognac for me.

Tourist, overheard at the host station: "We ate here our first night and we're back on our last night because this is the best place we've been."

The interior is dumpy but, as noted above, if good food and service are what you're after, then skip the lines at the fashionable boites in the quartier du Penn, and please visit d'Oc -- they need and deserve your patronage.

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I had lunch at Bistro d'Oc today, after taking in the Henri Rousseau show at the National Gallery. What an endearing restaurant. A good-looking waiter with an authentic French accent who was very good at his job, a pleasant space (I don't find it dumpy, just a little rumpled, perhaps), gentle prices, and food that is really very good (except for the bread, which is pretty awful). I started with a gazpacho with crabmeat, which was one of the daily specials. An excellent soup for a hot day. For my second course, I ordered the calf brains with capers, which is listed as an appetizer; I was hoping I wouldn't leave hungry. What was placed before me was a honking big portion of absolutely beautifully prepared brains, with a delicious lemony sauce perhaps slightly too generously applied and perhaps rather more bountifully endued with capers than was altogether necessary. But this was a really outstanding dish, the brains cooked perfectly, with a bit of crispness around the edges and tremulously custardy within. More than enough for a main course, this dish cost an astonishingly modest $8.95. A couple of glasses of a pleasant rose with the food, and then a competent espresso rounded out a lovely meal. I wish this restaurant were in my neighborhood, or near where I work. I would certainly be a regular.

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We finally showed up in DC for our official house hunting trip. Bistro d'Oc was a bright spot in an otherwise depressing week. It simply boggles the mind what people are willing to pay for a house in this part of the country!!

We played hooky from the housing market on Tuesday, and took the opportunity to stroll around the Mall and up to the Bistro for lunch. A delightful experience with only a few disappointments. Let's get those out of the way so I can rave about the rest.

As I've seen in this forum already, the bread was really disappointing. It was fresh, with a crispy crust, but a Wonder-bread consistency inside. Where's that toothsome, chewy texture I've come to expect from real French breads? A mixture of breads would have been nice, too, instead of just slices of white baguettes.

The wine list I was offered was a little anemic, although this might have been just a communication problem with our waitress. A little folding placquard was given me, with the complete red wine list being comprised of "syrah" and "merlot". Just syrah and merlot. No labels, no countries. The syrah was perfectly serviceable as a luncheon wine, but I have no idea what I was drinking. I will be really disappointed if that is all they offer by the glass at lunchtime.

The food, on the other hand, was extraordinary. I started with the pate, which was generously crusted with pepper and served with almost enough croutons to get through, and my wife had the house tossed salad. For lunch madame enjoyed the veal blanquette with a lemony cream sauce, one of the specials from the seemingly endless list of specials. The veal was tender and flavorful, and the sauce was perfect. I had the crispy duck confit, served over potatoes pan roasted in duck fat with mushrooms and garlic. Heavenly.

We were too stuffed to try dessert, but there's always next time.

And there will be a next time. I noticed on their dinner menu that they offer a cassoulet. Has anyone out there tried that?

Derek

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An otherwise good burger was ruined by the horrible roll that it was served on. The meat was flavorful, and cooked to perfection and was topped with two slices of gooey American cheese (I have nothing against using American cheese, but at a French bistro I just hoped for something a little more French). Now the roll, not only was it too large, too hard, and too cold, it was also a bit stale (so Don the bread is still "pain industriel"). The fries were strange, the size put them between an English chip and a Belgian Frites, but not as good as either.

I am currently on a burger quest, but the next time I return it will definitely be for some brains.

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I stopped into Bistro d'Oc last night, and tried a couple daily specials with mixed results. A veal-head terrine (I think they called it a pate) was house-made, super-rustic, and very well done, although it was positively drowning in a pool of oil. In my limited experiences, I've found Bistro d'Oc's "weird stuff" to be their best stuff; a roast half-chicken was cooked in advance, and heated-up and crisped before plating. This was a lousy roast chicken, served on whipped potatoes that I didn't eat because they tasted (at least partly) instant.

Especially given its location, Bistro d'Oc is a restaurant I keep wanting to love, but can only bring myself to like, barely.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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I stopped into Bistro d'Oc last night, and tried a couple daily specials with mixed results. A veal-head terrine (I think they called it a pate) was house-made, super-rustic, and very well done, although it was positively drowning in a pool of oil. In my limited experiences, I've found Bistro d'Oc's "weird stuff" to be their best stuff; a roast half-chicken was cooked in advance, and heated-up and crisped before plating. This was a lousy roast chicken, served on whipped potatoes that I didn't eat because they tasted (at least partly) instant.

Especially given its location, Bistro d'Oc is a restaurant I keep wanting to love, but can only bring myself to like, barely.

Cheers,

Rocks.

Does Bistro d'Oc have the highest expection/reality disappointment number of any restaurant in DC? If not at the top, probably close to it.
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The thing that kills me about Bistro d'Oc, aside from everything else that's already been mentioned, is that if you walk one block further south, and one block west, you can eat at Central and get a meal that is 10^6 times better AND you would spend the same amount of money, if not less.

I imagine with the Zagat sticker in the window and the semi-rustic looking decor, it probably draws in the more discriminating tourists walking down 10th Street, or people who don't know Central is right around the corner.

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Went here recently. Not really horribly bad, but not good.

Pros - Some food is edible, easy to carry on a conversation, they do not seem to mind if you linger a bit. It's got a good location.

Cons - They have this weird 'specials' board they move around in a big chair (weird), the staff seems focused on getting you your food too quickly. Some of the food is not really very edible.

The only thing that was really good was the duck confit, and I am told a pork special. There is a croque monsieur (sp?) that was pretty bad and a a salmon dish that was clearly massively overcooked by just looking at it.

Clearly I should have read this thread first.

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Went here recently. Not really horribly bad, but not good.

Pros - Some food is edible, easy to carry on a conversation, they do not seem to mind if you linger a bit. It's got a good location.

Cons - They have this weird 'specials' board they move around in a big chair (weird), the staff seems focused on getting you your food too quickly. Some of the food is not really very edible.

The only thing that was really good was the duck confit, and I am told a pork special. There is a croque monsieur (sp?) that was pretty bad and a a salmon dish that was clearly massively overcooked by just looking at it.

Clearly I should have read this thread first.

I thought sure when I saw your post that you were going to write that Bistro d'Oc had closed.

All I can say is: they must either own the building, or have a long-term lease.

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Cons - They have this weird 'specials' board they move around in a big chair (weird)

This may not be a persuasive defense, but you will find places in France that do this (whether on a chair or an easel really makes no difference). They do it at the excellent Pesce in Washington, too.

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This may not be a persuasive defense, but you will find places in France that do this (whether on a chair or an easel really makes no difference). They do it at the excellent Pesce in Washington, too.

I had read your first sentence, and was *just* putting down my glass of Champagne while simultaneously reading your second sentence in order to type, "They do this at Pesce, too." :) Although I can't remember if they do it at the new one or not (do they still?)

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I had read your first sentence, and was *just* putting down my glass of Champagne while simultaneously reading your second sentence in order to type, "They do this at Pesce, too." :) Although I can't remember if they do it at the new one or not (do they still?)

If by "the new one" you mean the restaurant in the former Montsouris space (the Nanking of old), which they moved to nearly five years ago, yes, they still bring a menu board around, or did the last time I was there, maybe a year ago. Sad to say, I never dined at Pesce in its previous location. And now that I think about it, Pesce beckons me to eat there again soon.

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I thought sure when I saw your post that you were going to write that Bistro d'Oc had closed.

All I can say is: they must either own the building, or have a long-term lease.

Haha. They should really be closed to be honest. The only thing probably keeping them in business is foot traffic and what must be a seriously cheap lease.

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Closed? Opentable states that the restaurant is "permanently closed." Their web site is gone. Called the number and the phone rings but was not answered. I never had a bad meal there and enjoyed some that were terrific so I will miss them if they are gone.

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39 minutes ago, dwt said:

Closed? Opentable states that the restaurant is "permanently closed." Their web site is gone. Called the number and the phone rings but was not answered. I never had a bad meal there and enjoyed some that were terrific so I will miss them if they are gone.

They surely had a long-term lease, and it was just a matter of it expiring (just a guess, but probably a good guess).

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