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Bistro Sancerre, French Bistro and Steakhouse on Duke Street, near King Street Metro, Old Town

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Got a mailer for the new Bistro Sancerre last week, so I walked over to check it out. I knew there was activity in the space some months ago, but somehow missed that it had opened already. This may be telling. I walk by this area to Whole Foods frequently, but not this secluded plaza. The restaurant faces onto a plaza with fountain which is the side of the Embassy Suites. Inside, the dining space steps up 2 levels, with a private dining room and art display, extending all the way to the Duke St side of the building. 

I only ate in the bar. A few beers on tap, but good ones. Extensive beer bottles/cans selection. But I think the wine is more important. The bar seats about 10+ 3 or 4 high-tops for 2 people, and one for maybe 4 people. It looks nice but a bit hard (lots of stone), not much character. Had some sliders and winter squash soup. Sliders were pretty tasty. Good beef and brioche buns. The soup was a little gelatinous. Good flavor. The bartender said it was made with emulsified fish (cod? don't remember now). I'm pretty sure I heard that correctly. Anyway, it looks like the place is worth a try for a real dinner. Maybe this week... 

Looks like they specialize in steaks. Some pics attached.


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Grover and I went last weekend. We walked over and entered from the Duke Street side.  This is a very long, somewhat narrow entrance that is used as a Gallery to highlight art.  From cursory glance, mostly portraiture.  There is a private dining room on the left as you go towards the Hostess stand.  Entering from the Duke Street side you get to tour the whole restaurant.  Very nice room but somewhat confusing from that entry point.  From memory, the food:


Me: Fois Gras terrine - Interesting but layers of Foir Gras and, I believe duck confit.  The accompanying baguette slices were more like soft bread with no crusty crunch. Again interesting.  Wrapped with leek which added color but a not of flavor, red wine gelee and pickled veggies.

Grover: Onion soup.  The standard that sets the tone for the rest of the meal. Nice presentation, salty soup. If you could overlook the overly-generous use of salt, the broth was nice.  Doesn't rise to the level of the Onion soup at Del Ray Cafe, but (minus excess salt), acceptable.


Me: Wagyu beef  Ordered "rare towards medium rare" and delivered as ordered.  Good pink to red center and well cooked. That's the good part.  The not-good part was the "sauce" which had a tendency to overpower the taste of the beef. Accompanied by an interesting stack of shredded cabbage and mushroom on a pastry circle. 

Grover: Pan roasted Monkfish.  Bone-in Monkfish was very well done (no, not overcooked, prepared very well).  I didn't manage a taste but Grover did a commendable job of demolishing it.  Accompanied by a similar stack of veggies on the above described pastry circle.  Mostly ignored but the carrots that topped it were interesting.


Grover had the Lemon cake(?).  This was a number of cubes of lemon cake and a scoop of lemon sorbet.  Actually quite good.

General observations:  The staff is a mix of new-to-dining and seasoned servers.  At times it felt as if we were at a soft opening.  Used utensils and glassware were removed promptly but the pacing was somewhat erratic. I'm not sure I'd call this a bistro, the menu reads more new American rather than French bistro. Incidentally, the host/manager spoke impeccable French (possibly the most authentic French item in the house) . 

We both had a glass of Prosecco and I had appropriate wine for the terrine (a Sauterne) and beef (a California red).  The bill before tip was $170. Will we go back?  Certainly.  One visit does not make a reliable opinion, it's only a fleeting impression.  I would like to see Bistro Sancerre succeed because I personally see the promise of some good things coming. Not quite there yet, but (I hope) just over the horizon. 

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