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Corner Bistro, Downtown McLean - Closed.

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I recently tried the Corner Bistro, in McLean, a very small tapas place on Old Dominion. While primarily Spanish, several of the dishes span other parts of the European continent, with a more Italian or French lean. We had some of the more standard tapas, but several of these dishes were quite good. We especially like the salted cod fritters and the mussels. I also enjoyed the artichoke hearts, but felt it was a stingy order - 3 halves, for the price ($3.95) The sauteed spinach and the white bean dish were not up to Jaleo standards, however. If in the mood for a more comfortable atmosphere and wider menu range, I would still trek to Jaleo, but , I would go back to Corner Bistro for a quick/local lunch or dinner. I understand Corner Bistro is moving to a larger space on the opposite end of their current building, which might help the comfort factor - it is basically impossible now to have dinner with more than 2 people total.

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Corner Bistro is a very useful place when you're in the area. Fun food, good wine. Cramped, so don't go at peak times. And if the chef from the co-owned Petit Mistral is poking around, ask him if he's got some liver lying around. You won't be disappointed.

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I batted 5-for-5 at Corner Bistro tonight (sorry for the baseball analogy, but a Roberto Clemente highlight film was being shown at their tiny eight-seat bar - the only remaining question is who had the better arm, Clemente or Raul Mondesi?)

GM Will Murck, who last worked with Travis Timberlake at DC Coast, is changing the menu next week, but we stuck with the classics this evening, so most should still be there.

A simple Tortilla ($3.75) was a slice of traditional onion-and-potato omelet, finished earlier, reheated, and well-worth ordering. As were the Patatas Bravas ($3.95), slightly undercooked cubes of potato in a zesty sauce that recalled, not unhappily, echos of Campbell's cream-of-tomato soup. The highlight of the meal was a plate of house-made Croquettes ($6.25), three hand-formed beauties made with chicken and Serrano ham, but nearly as good were the Sauteed Garlic Shrimp ($7.25), about a half-dozen de-veined, firm, well-cooked shrimp served in (are you listening, Jaleo?) an oven-hot clay pot. My young dining companion and I were split on the Solomillo ($5.25), two little pieces of marinated, grilled flank steak - he thought they were too charred and overcooked (he's right about the overcooking - we ordered them medium-rare and they came medium-well), but I enjoyed the char and cannot find fault at this price-point. Wines by the glass are perfectly adequate, and served in good stemware; the only genuine tragedy is the industrial bread, as bad as any you'll ever encounter.

Corner Bistro is owned by the same people who own Petit Mistral and Joe's Burgers, which explains the interchangable real-estate shuffle that has been confusing people driving down Old Dominion Drive for a long time. And here's a bit of news that will be trickling down to the mainstream press: One of the ex-managers at Corner Bistro has split off, and is in the process of opening a wine bistro down Chain Bridge Road that will be employing an entirely automated swipe-your-credit-card, push-a-button, and dispense-your-own-wine system - the same setup that was (falsely) rumored to have been used at Proof.



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