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Montsouris, West Dupont Circle - Closed.

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Any news yet re: what will fill Johnny's present space?

I swung by Montsouris today (former Johnny's Half Shell space) for a looksie. Tables are there, deliveries being accepted around back, and from what I could see a more modern looking space then Montemartre's neighborhood bistro decor. Hopefully an open will occur soon!

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hmmm... Interesting name. I realize it's named after a park in Paris, but tsouris in Yiddish (roughly translated) means difficulties - as in grief, trouble or travails. Montsouris = "my troubles" or "mountain of difficulties?" I hope not!

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hmmm... Interesting name. I realize it's named after a park in Paris, but tsouris in Yiddish (roughly translated) means difficulties - as in grief, trouble or travails. Montsouris = "my troubles" or "mountain of difficulties?" I hope not!

Souris = mouse en francais.

Don't tell the health department!

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Souris = mouse en francais.

Don't tell the health department!

From a Google:

Park Montsouris - Originally called Moquesouris (mouse mockery) not without cause as the abandoned windmills of the barren plain were devoid of grain - even for the mice. "

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hmmm... Interesting name. I realize it's named after a park in Paris, but tsouris in Yiddish (roughly translated) means difficulties - as in grief, trouble or travails. Montsouris = "my troubles" or "mountain of difficulties?" I hope not!
The 't' is silent, so there is no 'tsuris'

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I'm heading there Tuesday night for dinner.

They got a write up in Daily Candy earlier this week:

Montsouris, the new French bistro named for the Parisian park, where the ingredients are fresh, the preparations are healthy, and the meal is full of flavor, not guilt.

There’s an extensive choice of by-the-glass French, Italian, and American wines to go with French classics like steamed mussels, paté, and frisee salad with quail eggs. Try butcher steak with golden mashed potatoes, bacon, chive, and creme fraiche — it’s the chef’s signature dish.

I like that steak, mashed potatoes, bacon and creme fraiche is being considered healthy :)

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The first impression when walking into Montsouris is, hmmm, they haven't changed it much from Johnny's Half Shell, fresh paint, some modern accents, but the lay out is pretty much the same...but given the narrowness of the space, really is there much you can do with it?

While Montemartre goes for cozy neighborhood bistro, Montsouris is much more reflective of its Dupont address, hipper, more modern style. Food is plated much more minimal, most on long narrow rectangular white plates, little pots are filled with sauces, and mini cooking vessels contain sides dishes.

The menu is significantly larger than Montemartre's. There are some duplicated dishes, such as the beet tartar, some borrowed dishes like the hanger steak (in Montsouris case presented with mashed potatoes rather than fingerlings) and the menu skews heavily to beef. Entrees included Hanger steak, kobe beef, steak tartar, and rib eye is presented 3 different ways. Entrees also included lamb, duck confit and pork. What seems almost as an after thought, 4 fish dishes are buried at the bottom of the menu.

Now to the food. Yum! The most stunning dish is the bone marrow appetizer, a 8 inch veal bone sawed in half length wise and roasted, served with grilled bread and sea salt. The best tasting, the steak tartar, wow, I need to try it again, but quite possibly going down as one of the better things I've eaten this year. Other winners included the shrimp appetizer, the chicory salad with bacon and gizzards...and the rib eyes, juicy, flavorful pieces of meat...The Kobe beef wasn't much too write home about and I wasn't that crazy about the pomme frites which were limp.

The only disappointments, the desserts were pretty weak (then again, dessert isn't the strongest course at Montemartre either), the red wine was served too warm (although they do have one of those refrigerated cases like Sonoma for wine by the glass, looked like about a dozen choices), and the place is LOUD...Tuesday night restaurant is half full and still hard to hear your neighbor LOUD.

All in all a tasty introduction to Montsouris which certainly helps to elevate the dining scene in Dupont Circle.

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On Saturday, after visiting the terrific "Société Anonyme" show at the Phillips (click), my sister and I had lunch at Montsouris. We both had a jones for raw oysters, so we knew what we were going to start with. Then, as we perused the menu and I was thinking of one hunk of meat or another, the waiter arrived to tell us the specials. I forget what they were except for the soupe de poisson, a dish I love and just savored last month in Nice. We both decided to have the soup as our main course. Well, it turned out to be better than any I had had in Nice, as good as it gets, really. Presented a little differently from the usual croutons and little pots of rouille and shredded cheese, this came with a long toasted section of baguette already liberally smeared with a saffron-tinted rouille and sprinkled with shredded cheese. But the soup itself was glorious perfection, to borrow from the Posh menu-writer. With the oysters to start, it was plenty for a light lunch. We were amazed when we got the bill that the soup was only $6.50. If you go and they don't have the fish soup, tell them you've heard about it and think they ought to add it to the regular menu.

They don't seem to have a website, but menupages has their menu HERE.

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Because RTC still isn't serving lunch, My Dear Brother agreed to jump on the Metro and come into town so that I could treat him to his annual Birthday Lunch. It seemed like a perfect time to try Montsouris. We were not disappointed. On the "Salads" part of the menu is a duck confit with mixed greens and grilled apple slices and slices of fingerling potatoes. This was terrific!

MDB had the Cornish Game Hen, also over mixed greens. Judging from the way he scarfed that up and then sucked on the bones, I believe he liked that, too. :)

The bread was very good and we didn't have room for dessert. Plus, MDB had to get back to SS for a meeting.

There is a pretty good selection of wines by the glass. We were both happy with our selections. Service was very good, but the place was mostly empty--surprising for a Friday.

There is quite a bit on that menu I would like to explore. The prices lend themselves to frequent visits and much exploration. :)

All in all, this is a great addition to the neighborhood.

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I stopped in for dinner a week or so ago and had a wonderful meal. I was eating on the early side and noticed that the place filled up as we were finishing our meal. I enjoyed my meal of Frisee aux Lardons, Gesier et Ouef de Caille (curly chicory salad with sauteed bacon, gizzards, and quail egg) and the Le Steak du Boucher, Pomme de terre Vero (the butcher steak with golden mashed potato, bacon, chive, & creme fraiche).

Then menu is heavy on the red meat, like I am going to complain, but they had two fish specials that day. As others have stated, good food at good prices, so drop in if you get the chance.

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For about four people, unless they have magically expanded the bar area? This is the former Johnny's space.

Too bad they don't take reservations.

The bar seats 6-8, not many more (if that) have been regularly showing up for HH lately.

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I had a nice and relaxing dinner last night with a good friend who has been looking forward to going to Montsouris as a stop-gap until she's able to go to France this summer. She vowed to try as much of the menu as possible in one sitting. I don't think I'll try that approach again. For apps, we shared the veal marrow and the spicy shrimp. The marrow is luscious and beautiful but the portion was very large and I would not order it on my own as it was too rich for me (that is the first time I've ever said that about any food). We also shared mains: a lamb stew (daily special) and the pork chop. The stew was tasty and warm and the pork chop was very good but just a little dry -- it benefited from the sauce that was on the side. My friend the dessert fiend "forced" us to order desserts so we tried the pistacchio pudding/cream (can't recall the exact name) and the chocolate sorbet. I really enjoyed both and would be happy to have them again. The service was very nice but a bit slow. Also, as others have mentioned, it does get loud in the restaurant. We had reservations at 6:30 and by 7 it was jumping.

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The pork sausage with lentils du puy is a dish well worth coming in from the cold for; it's a hearty and simple, yet complex-tasting, dish. The green beans in the green bean salad were somewhat overcooked, but the dressing is a winner. And while I'm not a fan of places that serve butter still wrapped in foil, Montsouris's butter is Plugra, and their bread is very, very good, so I'll forgive them.

Service was weird, but in a friendly way we were in the mood for. We decided to ignore the waiter who sat down at the next table to take our neighbor's order.

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Large groups of people can be exasperating. In a previous life I assigned subscription seats for the National Symphony Orchestra, and there was nothing hated more than getting 15 orders clipped together with instructions that every one needed to be close to every other one. Lots of swearing, eye-rolling, etc., done in the privacy of my office.

Waiting on a large group at a restaurant must be equally exasperating, but I would advise the servers at Montsouris to do their eye rolling, and gossiping about the tables where the customer cannot see you.

Similarly, when a customer tells you her order, the best response is "Thank you, madame," or "How would you like that cooked," not "Are you sure you don't want the special?"

And rolling your eyes and flouncing off when the first person asked doesn't understand your method of taking orders is guaranteed to make them resent your automatic 18% gratuity.

The food? The food was fine. Very good bread and butter. Asparagus soup had too much pepper, but good flavor. Filet, sauce bearnaise had good flavor (for filet) but was a shade over à point, the bearnaise had congealed into a lump, and my frites were forgotten until I was halfway through my steak. I had tastes of the marrow, the frisee salad, and the lentils with sausage, and all were good, but we agreed that the marrow was overwhelmed by the bread. We drank a Gigondas from the odd little wine list.

A good meal, with even better company :P , but the service will not have me rushing to go back.

Oh, and it's LOUD. I swear my ears are ringing this morning.

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The wine list is fun, with an abundance of offerings from Charlottesville-based wunderkind Didier Simonin of Simon "N" Cellars. I could definitely see crushing out a few things and a few bottles at the bar.

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I actually found the service to be very typical of what you find in a Paris bistro. If that's what you go in expecting, then you're fine. If you expect American style obsequiousness then you're in trouble. But Heather is right, the eye rolling could use a hint more discretion. However, on the flip side, we weren't exactly an easy group.

Overall, I thought the food was solid enough to merit a return. The marrow could perhaps use something a little less overwhelming as an accompaniment than the grilled Italian bread. The sausage itself was very good, but needed one more note in addition to the (somewhat bland) lentils. The asparagus soup was probably the best item I tasted last night. The Gigondas was pretty well made even.

I'm with Jake in thinking that Montsouris could be best experienced with a couple of small things and a bottle or two at the bar.

Even if we wouldn't be able to agree on what to get. :P

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