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Montmartre Restaurant Francais (2001-2020), Chef Brian Wilson on 7th St. and Pennsylvania Ave. in SE Capitol Hill Closed


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Had lunch at Montmartre today on their little terrace and thoroughly enjoyed it. They have a braised paleron steak on the menu right now that's like beefy butter. It's even better than their onglet, and that's saying something. The iles flottantes were also as good as usual. I'm going to make an effort to get down there more.

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Just came back from a languorous lunch at Montmartre, where I hadn't been in almost a year. The service was welcoming despite the lunch crowd and the fact that I was alone. I was offered a table either outside or in. I chose outside, but after being seated was told I couldn't have wine owing to the proximity of the school (I had known this but forgotten). There was no problem seating me back inside, which was done without any fuss. The whole way this was handled really impressed me. (The thoughtfulness shown to a solitary diner is, I think, a good test of a restaurant's hospitality.)

I had two specials. Gazpacho flavored with tapenade oil had just the right bitter tang and a creamy consistency (it was so creamy it may have even been lightly bound with cream, but that would surprise me). The other special was flounder in beurre blanc with braised spinach and salsify. The sweetness of the salsify, mellow garlic overtones of the spinach, and the buttery flounder were well harmonized, though the fish I thought was a tad overcooked. Overall a very tasty dish. The Sancerre by the glass had been carefully kept and was too quaffable for one's own good. It helped with the overall illusion of being in a little bistro somewhere in France. Very nice to have Montmartre on the Hill.

Edited by Banco
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I had lunch there with a friend last week. We shared the Gazpacho (a special), the flounder over spinach (also a special), and chocolate and berry tarts. All dishes were absolutely delicious, despite the fact we ate at 5 minutes before lunch closing, and that we couldn't order wine outside during school (who knew?). The flounder was accompanied by a buerre blanc, and had salsify along with it.

It's a great little spot, and is an absolute jewel for the Hill. Let's have more like it!

edited to add salsify.

Edited by tenunda
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I haven't eaten at Montmartre in quite a while and keep thinking it's time for a return trip. That photo of the duck confit is gorgeous. I used to order the duck rillettes whenever I went there but then went on a diet and haven't ordered that in a long time. I've never tried going there for lunch. It always seems like a good idea when I walk past and see people eating lunch outside.

Is the wine restriction outside only at lunch/during school hours? I'm pretty sure we've had wine outside there at dinner.

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Is the wine restriction outside only at lunch/during school hours?  I'm pretty sure we've had wine outside there at dinner.

It's only during school hours and when school is in session -- i.e. you can be served outside at all hours during the summer :lol:

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It's only during school hours and when school is in session -- i.e. you can be served outside at all hours during the summer  ;)

Ah, thanks. I don't generally drink wine at lunch, but it's helpful information to have anyway :lol:

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Great lunch at Montmartre today. They were totally slammed but we managed to wait for a seat on the patio so we could leave Whopper Jr. in his stroller to catch the passing show. Despite the crush, the service was quick and the food was as good as ever. Don't pass up the yellow beet salad with goat cheese and pine nuts -- simple, fresh and wonderful. The croustillant, a pastry purse stuffed with braised oxtail, is another hit. Be aware that the kitchen closes at 2:30 p.m., lots of would-be late lunchers were being turned away hungry and disappointed. A couple of Stellas and some first rate people watching completed an excellent outing.

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My wife and I took our son to Montmartre last night for his fifth birthday, along with his newborn sister and his grandparents visiting from Germany. (Yes, breastfeeding did occur--of the newborn, that is--and was met with no incident or dirty looks.)

The food was excellent; in terms of quality I would say it approached that of some of the best restaurants in the area, including Palena and Eve. My son had the mussels with pastis, which were fresh, plump, and succulent. The pastis in the creamy sauce hitting just the right note. The rest of us chose from the specials, which, besides breastmilk, included a boudin blanc appetizer, a rockfish entree, and venison. My wife also had a seared tuna entree. The boudin blanc was just as delicious as I remember it from when I tried it here a couple years ago. It gives the larger version at Marcel's a run for its money. Served with a potato puree and a rosemary infused demi-glace and with a delicate and moist texture, the execution was perfect. I didn't try the rockfish but by all accounts it was excellent, as was the tuna. The venison came garnished with vegetable purées (salsify and sweet potato, I believe) and was done to a perfect medium rare. Again, simply beautiful cooking.

Unfortunately, the evening was flawed by wine service very unbecoming to the standards of the food--especially in a French restaurant. When I ordered a Chassagne-Montrachet from the "reserve" wine list, it arrived at room temperature. I told this to the sommelier, who said he would put it on ice. Meanwhile the first courses arrived, including the boudin blanc, which I had hoped to pair with the Montrachet. I explained this to our server, who asked if I had told the sommelier about the problem with the wine. When I answered that he had already put the wine on ice, she expressed dismay and said that he had not done so. I then got the usual story about how wine of this type should not be overchilled and shouldn't stay in the refrigerator for weeks, etc., when of course all I wanted was a properly chilled bottle of wine. I asked her if any comparable wine was available at the correct temperature. Her response was vague. I ended up switching to a Meursault for about the same price ($78) after feeling the bottle, but on tasting it was hardly any cooler than its predecessor. The sommelier put it on ice, explaining that all their wines are kept at this temperature, then plopped the bucket on our table, not offering to serve. We didn't see our server again the rest of the night; someone else brought us the check. No one asked us about dessert or the like.

I feel somewhat complicit in this muck up, because I knew that the Montrachet would never reach the right temperature by the time our first courses arrived just by sitting in a bucket. But since Montmartre apparently sees no need to keep at least some of their "reserve" wines at the correct serving temperature, I'm not sure what I could have done about it other than forgoing the wine altogether. It's a shame, because the food really is excellent at this Hill gem.

Edited by Banco
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We had a wonderful (non-RW) meal at Montmarte last night. We had taken our one out-of-town visitor there last time he was in town alone, and he loved it and wanted his wife to experience a meal there. They both enjoyed it quite a bit. The restaurant was fairly busy but not quite full, and we enjoyed a relaxing meal and great conversation until we were only one of two tables left.

For starters, the table ordered a chicken liver salad special (I got one of the livers and wished I had ordered it), fish soup, a house salad, and I got their belgian endive salad, which I love. We also all shared a plate of pate de campagne. To drink, we had a bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape (2003?). For mains, my husband got the braised rabbit, which came with a spaghetti/long pasta. Our friends got the calves' liver with potato puree (him) and the beef bourguignon (her). He loved his meal, and she loved the beef but not the pasta that came with it. I had the brochette of scallops and shrimp, with wild rice, grapes, and almonds. It was fabulous. I used to love to order the salmon with leeks and wheatberries they no longer have on the menu, and I think this dish is my new favorite. We all split dessert: creme brulee and a slice of magnificent blueberry tart.

Whenever I eat at Montmarte, I always feel fortunate to have such a restaurant in the neighborhood. It's good to have the specialness of the place reaffirmed by people from out-of-town (who were already talkingduring the meal about the next time they would go there).

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We had a wonderful (non-RW) meal at Montmarte last night. 
I was at Montmartre last evening as well. It really is a nice casual neighborhood bistro with reasonable prices. I had the brandade of salt cod and potatoes. It was a very rich pool of buttery (olive oil?) smoothness - I enjoyed it very much but wish there had been something more than a slice of toast to go with. Maybe some pesto or some roasted red peppers. Dunno. I also tried the pate which was excellent. I had the evening's special - rockfish - which came with braised salsify and spinach and was done perfectly. They don't list the prices, and it turned out to be about $5 more than the other mains. Our beef bourguignon was rich and tender. We shared a Côtes-du-Rhône - probably too spicy for the fish, and too light for the beef, but tasty none the less. One other mention- the butter served with the slices of warm french bread was very, very good. The staff were all quite friendly and efficient, and I would like to return sometime soon. Edited by crackers
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we stuffed ourselves at Montmartre last night:

started with:

pate

braised oxtail in phyillo

mussels

salmon tartar (could have used a sprinkle of sea salt to round out the flavors)

beet tartar with goat cheese (just kind of an odd dish that didn't work for me)

mains:

hanger steak (I love this dish)

braised rabbit

roast red snapper

dessert:

pear and marzipan tart

unfortunately they were out of the braised sheep cheeks, which is really what I wanted...

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I was at Montmartre last evening as well.  It really is a nice casual neighborhood bistro with reasonable prices.  I had the brandade of salt cod and potatoes.  It was a very rich pool of buttery (olive oil?) smoothness - I enjoyed it very much but wish there had been something more than a slice of toast to go with. Maybe some pesto or some roasted red peppers. Dunno. I also tried the pate which was excellent.  I had the evening's special - rockfish - which came with braised salsify and spinach and was done perfectly.  They don't list the prices, and it turned out to be about $5 more than the other mains. Our beef bourguignon was rich and tender. We shared a Côtes-du-Rhône - probably too spicy for the fish, and too light for the beef, but tasty none the less.  One other mention- the butter served with the slices of warm french bread was very, very good.  The staff were all quite friendly and efficient, and I would like to return sometime soon.

It was olive oil in the Brandade. It's a very traditional peasant dish, so it would be out of character for it to be served other than as you had it, gussied up with pesto or whatever -- not that there's anything wrong with that.

(Now officially craving brandade).

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Here's a disaster for Capitol Hill:

Restaurant patrons are mourning the news that Montmartre Restaurant, which some say is the best and others the only 'good' restaurant on Capitol Hill, is leaving for a location at 2002 P St. N.W, the premises just vacated by Johnny’s Half Shell, which is coming to 400 N. Capitol St. N.W. to replace La Colline.

See here.

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Here's a disaster for Capitol Hill:

See  here.

This is shitty, awful news. The Hill cannot afford to lose a restaurant of the caliber of Montmartre. If another coffee joint or third rate "gourmet" shop or overpriced pseudo-antiques dealer opens in that space I'm going to go postal. But for now I'm just going to get really drunk and weepy.

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That's very sad news! And I don't even live there. A few times I visited, I always had nice comforting meals....hanger steak, calf liver, and other homey yummies. Why are you moving? Do you suppose that the Hill didn't sustain the outfit like it should have? I'm sure they will be packed in Dupont but it's not like people on the Hill have a plethora of options when it comes to good but not sky-high expensive dining.

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That's very sad news! And I don't even live there. A few times I visited, I always had nice comforting meals....hanger steak, calf liver, and other homey yummies. Why are you moving? Do you suppose that the Hill didn't sustain the outfit like it should have? I'm sure they will be packed in Dupont but it's not like people on the Hill have a plethora of options when it comes to good but not sky-high expensive dining.

Every time I've been there, which has been at various days of the week both for lunch and dinner, the place has been packed. But the P street locale will of course offer legions of younger, hipper types who eat out often, and it will also benefit from the synergy of the restaurant scene there. Hill residents still bear the pitiful scars of generations of abysmal dining options. That's why they squint and blink their eyes when they walk into a decent restaurant.

Does anyone know about plans for the vacated space other than the addition of two stories? Whom can one bribe or intimidate? I want names.

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Every time I've been there, which has been at various days of the week both for lunch and dinner, the place has been packed. But the P street locale will of course offer legions of younger, hipper types who eat out often, and it will also benefit from the synergy of the restaurant scene there. Hill residents still bear the pitiful scars of generations of abysmal dining options. That's why they squint and blink their eyes when they walk into a decent restaurant.

Does anyone know about plans for the vacated space other than the addition of two stories? Whom can one bribe or intimidate? I want names.

You know, that can work both ways. Locating a restaurant in a locale that's already oversaturated with eateries of every caliber may be chancy. I would wager that a Hill resident with a degree of sophistication doesn't have THAT many options, which is good news for a restaurant. I mean, it's either this or Sonoma. Right?

And sorry, I don't think that BdC is in any danger. Have you seen Johnny's space? It's way too small to encourage the kind of mayhem and random curmudgeonliness that BdC is justly famous for. It spells civilized dining. BdC doesn't. And thank heavens for that.

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You know, that can work both ways. Locating a restaurant in a locale that's already oversaturated with eateries of every caliber may be chancy. I would wager that a Hill resident with a degree of sophistication doesn't have THAT many options, which is good news for a restaurant. I mean, it's either this or Sonoma. Right?

And sorry, I don't think that BdC is in any danger. Have you seen Johnny's space?  It's way too small to encourage the kind of mayhem and random curmudgeonliness that BdC is justly famous for.  It spells civilized dining. BdC doesn't. And thank heavens for that.

You're right, Nadya, that is the other side of the coin, as it were. And after all, why has Johnny's decided to move? Still, the whole vibe of Montmartre will fit very well in P street, and I'm sure they won't have any problem. For all it's options, P street can be a mixed bag, and I think Montmartre will stand out for the excellence of its food.

So we'll end up with, as you said, Sonoma, plus Johnny's coming soon, and, in a pinch, Belga. Ah yes, a veritable panoply of fine dining options!

ETA: How could I forget Bistro Bis?! Nadya, please don't shoot me. But in view of the news perhaps you should.

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There are some reports on the Hill that Montmartre is actually expanding to a second location, not moving per se. Perhaps they're shutting down the Capitol Hill site while the new stories are being added, and then will reopen once the construction is done? This could be a win-win situation, if they can keep the quality up at two sites (and if they can gain a bit more space at the 8th St. location!).

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There are some reports on the Hill that Montmartre is actually expanding to a second location, not moving per se. Perhaps they're shutting down the Capitol Hill site while the new stories are being added, and then will reopen once the construction is done? This could be a win-win situation, if they can keep the quality up at two sites (and if they can gain a bit more space at the 8th St. location!).

Thank you for this ray of hope. That would obviously be great news. But as a confirmed pessimist I'm still going to get drunk and weepy.

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There are some reports on the Hill that Montmartre is actually expanding to a second location, not moving per se. Perhaps they're shutting down the Capitol Hill site while the new stories are being added, and then will reopen once the construction is done? This could be a win-win situation, if they can keep the quality up at two sites (and if they can gain a bit more space at the 8th St. location!).

This confusion is under discussion here, where a couple people say they've heard it is an expansion, not a relocation.

I think the only way to settle this is to have dinner there, tout de suite, and demand answers.

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This confusion is under discussion here, where a couple people say they've heard it is an expansion, not a relocation.

I think the only way to settle this is to have dinner there, tout de suite, and demand answers.

I will be there for lunch in about two hours.

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This confusion is under discussion here, where a couple people say they've heard it is an expansion, not a relocation.

I think the only way to settle this is to have dinner there, tout de suite, and demand answers.

Just stopped by and they confirmed that they are opening a new expansion in Dupont but stated clearly that they ARE NOT CLOSING.

Good news!

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Just stopped by and they confirmed that they are opening a new expansion in Dupont but stated clearly that they ARE NOT CLOSING. 

Good news!

Hallelujah! Thanks, youngfood, for making my weekend! Now I can just get drunk and skip the weepy part.

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Just stopped by and they confirmed that they are opening a new expansion in Dupont but stated clearly that they ARE NOT CLOSING. 

Good news!

So does that mean they will reopen in the same location once remodeling is complete?

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So does that mean they will reopen in the same location once remodeling is complete?

I just got back from lunch there (duck confit, very nice). One of the owners said they are expanding to Dupont but also staying put in the present location (as youngfood informed us). The existing space will remain the same; there are no plans to move into the additional stories being built. They were a bit rushed so I didn't pursue the question of whether they will close temporarily during construction, but it's reasonable to assume they will do whatever they can to remain open.

She also said that the Hill Newspaper ran the story without ever talking to them or asking about their plans. Tsk.

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we devoured a good portion of the Montemartre menu last night, Pate, smoked salmon plate, beet tartar, snails, hanger steak, rabbit leg, calf liver, berry tart, chocolate cake, creme brulee...excellent as always.

The owner said that they doing some work on their Dupont location and are hoping for an opening around Sept. 15 (but you know how that goes)

Can't wait to have Montemartre 5 blocks from my house and their new restaurant 3 blocks from my office. :)

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The owner said that they doing some work on their Dupont location and are hoping for an opening around Sept. 15 (but you know how that goes)
Maybe this was already mentioned somewhere else in this thread, but how close to the metro will it be? That was one of the nice things about it's current location, it was a short walk from Metro.
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Maybe this was already mentioned somewhere else in this thread, but how close to the metro will it be? That was one of the nice things about it's current location, it was a short walk from Metro.

the second location is less than 200 yards from the dupont circle metro.

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I'm not a big fan of Montmarte. The one time I went the food was good, but the service was for shit and I haven't been back since even though I walk past the place almost everyday.

It has its foibles but I think it merits your giving it another try.

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I'm not a big fan of Montmarte. The one time I went the food was good, but the service was for shit and I haven't been back since even though I walk past the place almost everyday.

I've been a few times, and agree that the service can be inconsistent. The food, though, has been consistently very good to excellent, making it my favorite Hill dinner and brunch destination. If you do decide to give it another shot, maybe try to chat with the owner (at least the person I assume is the owner - a middle-aged Frenchman who often helps out serving tables and seating people) - on our visits, he has been very happy to answer questions about the food and make recommendations.

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It has its foibles but I think it merits your giving it another try.

You're probably right, but I'm so used to having to leave the Hill to eat (decent food) that Montmarte is largely off my radar screen. Add to that, the fact that the wife and I probably go out to eat less than once a month (we have an 18 month baby we really can't stand to not be around) and I'm sure you can understand why when we actually have the opportunity to go out, we're not in a hurry to throw the dice at a place where we didn't have a good time in the past.

However, based on your comments and others I think I'm ready to give it another try. Thanks for taking the time to chime in!

Best regards,

Hill Rat

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You're probably right, but I'm so used to having to leave the Hill to eat (decent food) that Montmarte is largely off my radar screen. Add to that, the fact that the wife and I probably go out to eat less than once a month (we have an 18 month baby we really can't stand to not be around) and I'm sure you can understand why when we actually have the opportunity to go out, we're not in a hurry to throw the dice at a place where we didn't have a good time in the past.

However, based on your comments and others I think I'm ready to give it another try. Thanks for taking the time to chime in!

Best regards,

Hill Rat

I sympathize (two kids: 5 yrs. and 9 months). I actually like it more for lunch than dinner.

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It's funny I've never had bad service at Montemartre, although I've heard complaints from other people. I guess because of it's neighborhood bistro atmosphere I'm not expecting the level of service one gets at say Komi, Corduroy, Eve etc. or maybe I just love the hanger steak so much that I overlook any service errors. :)

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It's funny I've never had bad service at Montemartre, although I've heard complaints from other people. I guess because of it's neighborhood bistro atmosphere I'm not expecting the level of service one gets at say Komi, Corduroy, Eve etc. or maybe I just love the hanger steak so much that I overlook any service errors. :)
There used to be a waiter there whom I had trouble with every single time I went there. He would say I hadn't ordered food I had ordered and was just generally contrary on every point. It was a pain, but we liked the restaurant so we kept going back. We used to joke that that it must be a real French restaurant because it had an authentic surly French waiter (no offense!). The last few times we've been there (we've only been there for dinner), he was gone and the service was much better. It's been much more attentive and pleasant.
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I had a great brunch this weekend but it wasn't the one I had at Montmartre. I have friends that rave about Montmarte so I was excited to join friends there for brunch. We arrived promptly when the restaurant opened at 11:30.

The thrill was gone when the bread arrived lukewarm with freezer cold butter. But even that pet peeve did not alert me to the disappointment I was about to experience. No....

Two of us ordered the soup of the day... pumpkin soup with a bacon topping. I being a recent devotee to the pig was thrilled to have the bacon, my friend ordered it without the bacon. Hers arrived steeping hot; mine lukewarm. The bacon was (drum roll) a foam!!!! Seriously...

Because I was going to be at the office all day, and downtown DC is a ghost town on Sundays, I decided to order a real meal... the hanger steak with roasted fingerling potatoes and a red wine sauce. First, I have been spoiled by RTS so I expect a lot out of meat when it is more expensive than at Ray's. Second, I ordered steak not soup. The meat was overwhelmed with sauce. The sauce was overwhelmed with salt.

The other entrees were a mixed bag. One friend ordered the liver and it looked awful. He only ate a 1/3 of it. The other friend ordered the Montmartre version of eggs benedict. I tasted the hollandaise sauce and it was too soupy for my taste.

I know I like French food. I know I like French bistro food. I know I really didn't like Montmarte.

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