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Circle Bistro, One Washington Circle Hotel - Chef Ashley Harris Takes Over for Ethan McKee


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Finally stopped by Circle Bistro tonight after a long day at work and met Shogun at the bar. I had passed by way too many times driving into the city to hit the market or other restaurants in the DuPont Circle area. This place is about as off the beaten path as possible being as close to DuPont Circle as it is.

Anyway, after all of the talk of steak tartare I was craving this dish and Tom's recent comments on this dish sealed the dael.

I settled in with a glass of Pinot Noir and started with the Billy Bi, a creamy mussel soup, that I just realized that Tom mentioned in his review. The gratin of mussels topped with garlicky bread crumbs were a great accompaniment to the creamy soup. It was nice to have a saffron flavored soup that was not bitter or medicinal tasting as can occur if one is heavy handed with the spice. This was followed by a decent version of steak tartare that hit the spot.

I went against my normal instinct to have chocolate for dessert and instead chose a confit of spring rhubarb that was served with creme fraiche sorbet and a black pepper tuille. The meltingly soft rhubarb was flavored with orange and paired nicely with the sorbet. To me a twist on the old creamsicle.

We were lucky to catch Chef Cox in on his day off and we said hello. Great guy to talk to and he clearly enjoys what he is doing. The menu looks very good and I will be returning to sample some of the entrees. They have a good wine by the glass list and during happy hour (5-7pm) they are 1/2 price. There is a patio out back that would make for a great spot for a dr.com happy hour.

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When I was trying to plan an office "happy hour" meeting in a short timespan, Circle Bistro came up as a possibility. Hard to find outdoor places that don't put one right in the path of all the exhaust and horns in that neck of the woods. Unfortunately, my boss changed her mind, but I know where I'll recommend for the next time we need to plan such an event!

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Circle Bistro was stop #1 on our Friday happy hour(s)

Some nice wine by the glass.

A zin that was redolent of caramel and chocolate. Not my style of wine but well done.

Kermit Lynch Cotes de Rhone. Here, the importer has turned into negociant and started bottling his own. (as explained by our gracious host Chef Cox). Made for the American market, but still maintaining that typical Rhone black pepper/leather. A nice happy hour wine.

The fries were quite good, but the house-made potato crisps were my favorite.

We had, among other things, a charcuterie plate that had a nice mix of meat, olives, mustard, pate, and cornichons.

The real winner was the ris de veau (aka sweetbreads). Oh my. Some of the best that I've ever had. Perfect crunch on the outside and creamy in the middle.

See Palena thread for our round 2 stop.

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I'd put in a good word for the fish basket.

Here's a great deal -- $7 for two good sized cones of fries with aloli and a cone of delicately fried fish sticks with a red pepper sauce. Add a half price glass of wine and you've got a really nice, upscale fish and chips for just over $10.

This is no Mrs. Paul's.

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The real winner was the ris de veau (aka sweetbreads). Oh my. Some of the best that I've ever had. Perfect crunch on the outside and creamy in the middle.

liver-flavored tofu, fried.

I ate mine, then bilrus's, then the dregs from the platter.

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Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to sample either the potato chips or the fish since they were gone before I could get to them :lol: but I can wholeheartedly vouch for the fries, with their yummy mayonnaise, and the tartare.

Tied for my favorite were the aforementioned sweetbreads and the oysters. I LOVE oysters and these have just edged out Firefly's as my favorites, which I didn't think was possible. I loves me some crunch with my oyster!

Chef, thanks for taking the time to chat with us during the Friday evening rush!

(P.S. The complimentary valet parking didn't suck.)

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Has anyone had a pre-theater menu at CB? Going to the opera @ Kennedy Center on Friday and will be looking for a place to get a bite before three hours of music. So, looking to get some feedback on CB as an option.

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"Buried how long?"

"Almost eighteen years."

"You had abandoned all hope of being dug out?"

"Long ago."

-- Charles Dickens, from 'A Tale of Two Cities'

Brendan, could you expand upon the "freshly dug Norland potatoes" that are currently an accompaniment on your menu?

Freshly dug!

As opposed to what?

And the "early summer Minestrone soup?" Is that anything more than Minestrone soup made with not-so-good tomatoes? :P

Do tell, do tell.

Rocks.

P.S. Heather Chittum is making a very good (and refreshingly simple!) dessert with berries and sabayon right now, but I suspect you already know this.

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Brendan, could you expand upon the "freshly dug Norland potatoes" that are currently an accompaniment on your menu?

Freshly dug!

As opposed to what?

Wouldn't those be new spring potatoes? :P As opposed to mature potatoes that perhaps have been stored for a while?

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Has anyone been to the HH at Circle Bistro? Saw it on the website and was thinking about checking it out.

Scroll up. A group visit back in May resulted in a few posts. Cheap good food and wine. What could be wrong with that?

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Scroll up.  A group visit back in May resulted in a few posts.  Cheap good food and wine.  What could be wrong with that?

Thanks, i just realized I scrolled right past mdt & JPW's posts. Sounds good, I am going to have to check this out tomorrow.

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Actually, I have the little insert that goes in their check presenter right here on my desk.

Happy Hour is 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. M-F, featuring $5 martinis, half price beer and wines by the glass. And most likely that lovely Jane as the bartender and tater chips. :P

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"Buried how long?"

"Almost eighteen years."

"You had abandoned all hope of being dug out?"

"Long ago."

-- Charles Dickens, from 'A Tale of Two Cities'

Brendan, could you expand upon the "freshly dug Norland potatoes" that are currently an accompaniment on your menu?

Freshly dug!

As opposed to what

And the "early summer Minestrone soup?"  Is that anything more than Minestrone soup made with not-so-good tomatoes?  :P

Do tell, do tell.

Rocks.

P.S.  Heather Chittum is making a very good (and refreshingly simple!) dessert with berries and sabayon right now, but I suspect you already know this.

My love for Heather's work knows no bounds

Norland Potatoes are a thin red skinned potatoe that average a size "b", or the ball of your thumb if you are a touch overweight like me. Freshly dug refers to actual "new" potatoes that are coming right out of the ground from one of my organic producers. OK I'll admit it is a bit of menu language tom-foolery but when I see New potatoes on a menu I'm bracing for boiled jobbies with some dill. In general a lot of farmers will harvest potatoes and then store them until the summer/fall crops are gone because its nice to have produce to sell in December when the fields lie fallow. The freshly dug denotes potatoes that are extremely fresh not left overs from the preceeding year.

Early summer minestrone- When making the base for our minestrone we use tomato paste(which doesn't have a season) not fresh tomatoes. This results in a pleasent and subtle acidic note to the soup which is based on a myriad of fresh vegetables. I am not one to make hot soup with fresh, in season tomatoes, when you cook them the lose some of their power, I prefer to do a cold soup with local heirloom tomatoes.

-Brendan

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A friend and I had lunch there today, and were generally pleased. I had the soft shell crab remoulade and the plain caesar salad. She had the squash blossoms stuffed with ricotta and pine nuts and the crispy goat cheese. The crab was fried in a tempura, and was very delicious. The remoulade certainly added to the dish, and the crab was served on a celery root slaw that was also tasty. The squash blossoms, served fried over a balsamic reduction, were great, and appropriately summery.

Unfortunately, the ceasar salad, which was offered with no black pepper ( :P ), was made out of a loosely shredded romaine--almost like a chop salad. This ruined the dish for my texture-sensitive mouth, but the dressing was good, and the two anchovies on the side were good as well. Always a sucker for goat cheese, Mr. Cox' fried medallion of it was especially toothsome. It would be a required dish for me. For dessert we split the profitaroles with mint ice cream and chocolate syrup. The three little treasures were excellent as well.

My only complaint (other than the salad), is that they didn't have a vegetarian entree option. I think this is a glaring oversight for any restaurant, especially here in DC.

That won't stop me from going back, though. Circle Bistro is close to my office, and is a wonderful place for happy hour. They pour a good cocktail, and the atmosphere is great. I'll have to return for dinner soon!

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Starting August 4th Circle Bistro will be hosting wine tastings on Thursday Nights. The fee of 25 smackeroos covers five wines (3oz pour), varied Amuse Bouche to pair and discussions led by my purveyors about their wines. Anyone interested please call 202.293.5390 to make a reservation. I look forward to seeing anyone who decides to come from the site...

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Starting August 4th Circle Bistro will be hosting wine tastings on Thursday Nights.  The fee of 25 smackeroos covers five wines (3oz pour), varied Amuse Bouche to pair and discussions led by my purveyors about their wines.  Anyone interested please call 202.293.5390 to make a reservation.  I look forward to seeing anyone who decides to come from the site...

Your web site says they started today....

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The upside (against many downs) of working in Foggy Bottom is the Circle Bistro happy hour. Martinis at $5 a pop, pommes frites that disappear from the table before they have a chance to cool, and a poolside patio (even if it is covered with a green tarp after labor day). A goujonette of salmon, charcuterie with housemade pate, half-priced beer and wine... the planets are perfectly aligned and you got $2,347 back in taxes last year...

Until you learn that they no longer serve Hangar One vodkas. The 'Vicious Circle,' with local blackberry puree, used to be mixed with H1 Kaffir lime, but now is a companion to Absolut Citron. "The H1 just wasn't selling," the bartender tells me. For shame, Washington! One of the few bars in DC to carry Hangar One, you know must opt for Ciroc, Grey Goose, or Ketel One (at $5, still a helluva deal).

But this is what you're missing...

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There are so many things I want to say about Circle Bistro, until I stop myself and realize that they aren't about Circle Bistro.

Brendan Cox has something inside him, something burning and gnawing at his soul, and I can't quite put my finger on what it is. I sense a talented chef locked in an underground prison, congealed in a management structure that has yet to produce a successful restaurant in Foggy Bottom, and perhaps never will.

And then there's Barry Koslow, the Sous Chef, who did some hard time at Citronelle, and from what I've heard, is too good to be languishing in obscurity at Washington Circle Pentitentiary.

And Jane, dear Jane, who has tended bar at this location for ... what, twenty years now? A wonderful, dear person who lights me up every time I walk into her bar.

"Soul" is a strange word, referenced by poets wearing toga and sandals, skipping through a field, plucking and sniffing the wildflowers, searching for meaning in the everyday and the ordinary.

And so it is, not at "Circle Bistro," but at Brendan Cox's restaurant. The planets are spinning out of alignment when, at 8 PM on a Friday night, there are dozens of soulless wank-holes that have lines out the door - and Brendan is coming out to the rather empty dining room, worried about whether his monkfish is showing well tonight.

You know, it is so easy to go into a restaurant, looking for flaws, and then finding them. But when you actively seek to love your meal, it changes everything for the better. Yes, Brendan, you could perhaps dial down the sodium in the monkfish, but who cares? There are those great Little Neck clams and mussels, and the leeks and fennel in your sauce that was so good when it was sopped up by bread. And the coq au vin was what, eight dollars? With tarragon and chervil sitting atop it, and according to you, containing absolutely no mint despite my insistence that it did. And the salad of pan-roasted wild mushrooms, frisee, applewood-smoked bacon and a poached farm egg! And you know what else? Most of all, there is Brendan Cox, someone who cares about what they're doing and who is willing to sign their name to their work. To everyone who went to a national corporate chain tonight: you wasted your money and got a plate full of anonymous goo - again! - when you could have gotten the work of a great individual for the same money.

Happy Hour is 5-8 PM, and a huge glass of 2003 Ribera del Duero is FOUR DOLLARS. And Samuel Smith's Organic Lager and Nut Brown Ale are $3.50! Forget the happy-hour menu that is inexpensive but ultimately cheap food. Let Brendan COOK for you. Ask for him and let him come out and tell you what's good that night, and pay ten, or fifteen, or twenty, or twenty-five dollars, or whatever it costs to get something more than a paper cone full of pub food, and enjoy the products of this talented young man, who will shine if asked to shine, who will come out and meet you and shake your hand, and who will personally oversee the execution of your meal.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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I'm not a fried oysters kind of girl. I kinda think that nature made them perfect just as they are, with ocean liquor floating on the half shell.

I was wrong. We went to Circle Bistro late Friday night, after a show at the Kennedy Center, and the place was happily buzzing with suited couples in the dining room and sweatered happy-hour goers who hadn't gotten around to leaving the hour seated in the bar. Outside, it drizzling miserably. Inside, it was soft and warm, and the music, while bad, was low. Most of the menu sang of the region, and none more so than the Bay oysters: Cox somehow wrapped the ocean and the oyster together in a perfectly crispy shell, served atop brilliantly roasted local potatoes in a mustard something sauce. We ate every last bit and then looked mournfully for more.

(but 'settled' for Madeleines--it was almost midnight, after all.)

Edited by babka
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Met up with a friend for happy hour before my poker game the other night. Based on the recommendations upthread, I got the fish sticks and the fries. When they each arrived in two cones, I thought I may have inadvertently ordered two, but it turned out to be a single order. What a spectacular deal!

The hotel is only a couple of blocks from our DC office, so I will definitely be back and order the martinis on a night when I can drink more.

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Celebrated getting out of UNIX System Programming an hour early with happy hour at Circle Bistro before heading home. An eventful evening was had, in which all four food groups (Beer, wine, liquor, and duck confit) were duely visited by way of a Dark and Stormy, some Riesling, their new Stella tap, and some duck confit. I was origonally hoping to try the fried oysters on Babka's recommendation, but they were apparently out, but Jane turned me on to some duck confit that was the picture of succulence and flavour. The accompanying frisee salad was very good, too, surely able to stand as a salad on it's own, with a zippy vinaigrette and what I believe to be pancetta (I'm looking, but I don't see it on a menu).

Capital Icebox: I saw a bottle of Hangar One Kaffir Lime poking around the bar, too.

Edited by shogun
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Salad with Royal Trumpet Mushrooms & Poached Egg.

Words escape me.

Get it now before it's too late.

Holy shit it was luscious and earthy and something akin to the virgin's thighs cheese at Dean's joint (at that I'm guessing) or at least if I were a guy what I would hope for.

I woke up this morning thinking about that dish. Unlike Waitman who woke up thinking about chains. :lol:

Thanks Brendan. The dinner was super from start to finish, fine food, service and wine. What more can one ask?

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I wandered to Notte Bianchi prior to a performance of Hugo Wolf's Morike Lieder (review here, in case we have any other Lieder fans in the house :lol: ) but alas, there was no room at the bar. So Circle Bistro got the nod for my preconcert snack. It's a comfortable space but the bar arrangement is a little weird with the pillar. I guess you work with what you have. It was delightful to chat briefly with the funny and welcoming Jane.

I gave the hangar steak some serious thought but didn't want to be in a beef stupor for the concert. I got two apps instead: wild mushroom salad with a poached egg and lardons, and the scallops with cauliflower puree and autumn fruits. The scallops were sweet, but just the teeniest tinest bit cooked more than I prefer. They had been scored which might explain that. Fruit and seafood wasn't an obvious pick for me but the combination worked surprisingly well and I cleaned up the sauce with a slice of rosemary bread (from Breadline, I was told).

I will add to Mrs B's rave: the mushroom salad with frisee, lardons and a poached egg was out of this world good. As I said in the salad thread every time I licked my lips that night I could taste it. My only regret is that I didn't break the yolk fast enough and it had continued to cook past the point of perfect runniness. Still it was an earthy, sexy delight and it was tough not to lick the dish it came in.

Had a glass of the Lingenfelder Reisling and a glass of the Kermit Lynch Cotes du Rhone.

Chef Cox came in before my meal arrived to speak to a gentleman at the end of the bar who I thought was Danny Boylen but wasn't sure. I didn't butt in and introduce myself.

Edited by Heather
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I paid my first visit to Circle Bistro yesterday for lunch. While I don't know Brendan, I know he's a valued member of this community, which makes it hard for me to say that I really wasn't impressed. Nothing was horribly awry in any way. It was just, underwhelming.

I think some things could have been corrected, but that probably points out the only issue that I'd call major rather than minor. Between the delivery of our starters and the presentation of dessert menus, our table was visited only twice. The first time was to deliver the entrees. The second time was to refill water glasses. At no time did anyone come near to ask how anything was or if we needed anything. And by the time the water glasses were being refilled, it was too far into the entree to do anything.

I started with a wild mushroom salad with lardons and poached egg. The egg could have used a little more cooking time. Even the white inside was pretty uncooked and raw.

I followed it with the angus beef burger. The burger was massive. The roll was massive. There was no way I was going to try to shove that thing in my mouth, so I ate it with fork and knife like some Atkins crazed fool sneaking in little bits of bread. (I'm not, BTW, indicating this is a problem. I like a big burger.)

The fries were just above room temperature at best, and while they had great flavor, they were not particularly crisp. The burger desperately needed seasoning. When the entrees were delivered we were offered fresh pepper, but I'm not going to add it until I taste it. Well, it needed a serious dose of pepper and particularly salt.

Which brings me to an issue we've discussed before. Salt and pepper on the table. I understand why some restaurants/chefs don't do it, but if you're not going to put it on the table, you had best be damned sure the food you're sending out is properly seasoned. From my experience with lunch, Circle Bistro is not ready to keep salt and pepper off the table.

So while I liked the room, (I thought the lounge looked very nice, too and would like to have a drink there sometime), the service was efficient if not attentive, and the food was presented well if not particularly flavorful. Circle Bistro just didn't meet my expectations.

Edited by CrescentFresh
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After finishing up my last exam for a grueling semester, I was seized by a surprising craving for red meat. As a poor working student, my usual sustenance falls into the bottom of the food pyramid, with only rare outings to have real food. As I had just managed, to me, quite a feat by surviving these past few months, I decided to treat myself to dinner at one of the best restaurants within walking distance, muddled as I was in a post-exam haze.

I dropped into a stool at the Circle Bistro bar and immediately noted the comfortable shades of orange, the trim design of the menu placards, and the sophisticated bartender who just looked like someone I could trust.

With a glass of Kermit Lynch Grenache-Syrah, I decided on the charcuterie plate. I was presented with a clean array of paper-thin jamon serrano, saucisson de paris, salami toscana with olive oil and olives, a triangular slice of terrine (of what meats, I don't know; didn't ask) with purple mustard, and a small dish of the creamiest pate I've ever had. Not a trace of grittiness anywhere. There was also a small salad of perfect mache and frisee and plenty of thinly sliced bread.

See, I'm a detail person. This was perfect. The chef or garde manger or prep cook who assembled the plate probably doesn't think a charcuterie plate is that big of a deal, but the presentation was so clean, and the cured meats, because they were so good, made me crave more.

The bartender told me of a special they had that night, venison with brussel sprouts and celery root. After studying the full menu (which they also offer at the bar), I decided to get it, having never had venison but reading much about its qualities. Everything they say is true. Cut into quarter inch slices, cooked a perfect mid-rare, the venison was plated down the left side of the plate, overlapping a savory sauce. On the other side were a few braised brussel sprouts and huge pieces of celery root with very little adulteration. A couple glazed chestnuts here and there. Overall I didn't pay much attention to the vegetables as the venison was so good: tender, not too gamey (though I wouldn't have minded) and, well, woodsy. I can't come up with better terms. My brain is shot.

Red meat craving satisfied and redefined. Will return as soon as I'm able.

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I stopped into Circle Bistro one night, decently dressed, and not looking like a hoodlum from foggy bottom. Since I know Notti Bianche does carry-out (execpt on fri and sat.) I was hoping they could do the same since my friend was working and I was sent out to bring food back for the both of us. There was no host and about 3 people passed by me while I was standing at the host stand. Finally a woman (who I am told has worked there for a while and is a bartender) asked if she could help me and I asked if they would please do a take out order for me. She said that CB doesnt do that. I asked her if she knew any place in the area that did (thinking Notti would be her reply) and she looked me up and down with snotty disgust in her eye and said "TGI Fridays." I thanked her and told her it wasnt my type of food and left.

I love Circle Bistro, but the service is oftentimes atrocious.

Edited by Bella
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...she looked me up and down with snotty disgust in her eye and said "TGI Fridays."

GULP. I am having lunch there tomorrow, and as it is Friday on a slow holiday week, I was planning to wear jeans (very cute and fashionable jeans, but jeans nonetheless) and a nice blazer. Am I going to get the TGI Fridays treatment?

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GULP.  I am having lunch there tomorrow, and as it is Friday on a slow holiday week, I was planning to wear jeans (very cute and fashionable jeans, but jeans nonetheless) and a nice blazer.  Am I going to get the TGI Fridays treatment?

I doubt you will have any problems.

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Had an enjoyable dinner at CB on Friday night. Started off with the Veal Sweatbreads "General Tso's" style for me and the Roasted Wild Mushroom salad for her. The sweetbreads were good, but I did not really care for this preparation (YMMV). I enjoy my sweetbreads seasoned, floured, and simply fried. The couple of bites of the salad were really good and I loved the taste of the bacon with the mushrooms.

I had the Black Cod with porcini polenta (If I remember correctly) and braised leeks. I really enjoyed this dish and could have eaten another portion. The gnocchi that she had (online menu is not up to date and I do not remember the preparation) were light, fluffy, and tasty.

We had the chocolate charcuterie and apple charlotte for dessert. The first was a portion of white chocolate boudin blanc, chocolate terrine, and a scoop of chocolate sorbet. I thought the presetation was fun and liked the anise flavor in the terrine. We both thought the apple charlotte, which was delicious, was the better of the two. It was served with some cardamom ice cream on top, a big plus for me.

Dinner for 2 with apps, entrees, desserts, coffees, and a bottle of wine was $130 with tax. I will return to try some other items on the menu.

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Circle Bistro's lunch offerings for RW are paltry in comparison to the other places noted here (with the exception of Indebleu) -- first course is a choice between their mixed greens salad and smokey white bean soup; entrees are limited to chicken or fish (trout); and the desserts are apple tart or mini chocolate bundt cake. I went for the latter, and it was so dry that I couldn't bring myself to put the thing out of its misery. The chicken entree, however, was fantastic -- plenty of salt and jus and a slighlty breaded exterior resting on a bed of pureed sweet potatoes and braised escarole. It blended together wonderfully. No service missteps, despite a packed house, but with so many other places offering their full menu this week, I wouldn't put it on a list of must-eat RW destinations.

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Circle Bistro's lunch offerings for RW are paltry in comparison to the other places noted here (with the exception of Indebleu) -- first course is a choice between their mixed greens salad and smokey white bean soup; entrees are limited to chicken or fish (trout); and the desserts are apple tart or mini chocolate bundt cake.  I went for the latter, and it was so dry that I couldn't bring myself to put the thing out of its misery.  The chicken entree, however, was fantastic -- plenty of salt and jus and a slighlty breaded exterior resting on a bed of pureed sweet potatoes and braised escarole.  It blended together wonderfully.  No service missteps, despite a packed house, but with so many other places offering their full menu this week, I wouldn't put it on a list of must-eat RW destinations.

I agree on Circle Bistro's treatment of Restaurant Week. We had heard a lot about the restaurant but had never tried it. Went Thursday night and was surprised that the RW dinner menu had a paltry two appetizers, two entrees, and two desserts. From the RW menu, the bean soup wast quite good, with a pleasing texture and a nice smokey bacon background. The pork tenderloin main course was okay; perfectly cooked but a bit bland; just not memorable. The dessert was a joke--a thin wafer of dry, overbaked cookie-like pastry topped with a thin slice of baked apple, with a side splash of caramel-like sauce that was so austere that it was hard to get enough on the fork to taste.

Mrs. dcdavidm could not find anything appealing on the mini-RW selections and went for the main menu. Her wild mushroom-frisee-bacon salad was out of sight delicious, as was her potato gnocchi main course.

Great decor! The room is warm-contemporary and, to our taste, gorgeous. Just wished that the RW menu was more exciting and more enthusiatically presented.

Tried 15 Ria for the first time on Tuesday. Decent RW selections; nice flavors; cozy, comfortable room; wonderful service. Certainly would go again if in the neighborhood, though for a hotel-associated restaurant it doesn't rise to Corduroy's heights.

Heading for Notte Bianchi on Saturday.

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Went to Circle Bistro for the first time. Ordered off of the RW menu but thought it was adequate and adhered to the appropriate RW criteria without all the up charges for ordering off the menu like many restaurants do. Honestly when they do that it defeats the purpose I believe.

We had a superior evening, the waiters were articulate and very knowledgeble aboput the menu. It was a relief to experience this as so many places I do not believe train their wait staff to assist diners appropriatelly.

Two diners stuck to the RW menu when had a nice char and a beautiful pork tenderloin, both were served hot and juicey. I tested both and really liked them. The polental was creamey but still tasted lkike polenta instead of cake batter like it does at soooooo many places. I had the frisse/mushroom salad with sizzilins' as we used to call the bits of pork in Southern Maryland. It was one of the best salads in the city and that includes Corduroys beet salad which I love and Tosca's radiccio which has been a favorite for years. the General Tso sweet breads were more of a Kung Pao Sweetbreads and delectible morsels of arterial cork, I shared them with everyone so we could all die together- they weree delicious and it was sooooooo nice to have sweetbreads prepared in a different fashion than the typical saute. My hanger steak was tasty , juicey and cooked to perfection, the portion size was very nice and the accompaniments went together magically! The Chef came out to viusit us and was pleasant, unpretentious and enjoyable to meet and talk to. I am definately going toput it on my top four list for DC dining so will be there fairly often. Looking forward to my next visit and happy RW is over.

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restaurant week provided a tepid introduction to the virtues of this restaurant, as has been observed above.

sunday night, at prime time, there were tables to spare, which made me wonder if hotel guests aren't the primary eaters here. the bar and lounge area appeared empty. turned up a bit, piped in date music from new jersey didn't do much to cheer the place up. i have been here before and have never warmed up to the space, although it is nicely lit. the small dining room goes forward and aft; the back section feels a bit forlorn. the chairs derive from jens risom, knock-offs i am almost positive. (i have not gotten close enough to them to tell whether similar seats at rosa mexicano are the genuine article.)

basically, the restaurant deal here was free dessert. (you can do worse; a couple of years ago we figured out that the restaurant week price at the related dish nearby could actually exceed regular menu pricing, depending upon what you ordered.) after discussing the situation, we resisted the temptation to switch to the regular menu.

a salad heaped with frisee and lettuce and some fennel was fairly ordinary, a bit tired. there were only one or two scant traces of the blood orange that were supposed to be in it. (hold the lettuce, add good olive oil and olives and head to two amys for the real thing.) smoky bean soup was okay, thinned with stock to lightness. there was some tender chicken floating around in the pork flavor.

arctic char was okay, a bit dry on the outside but pink and sweet within, accompanied by lentils. they put on the accordion music about the time a plate of three thick medallions of beer-brined pork tenderloin was delivered to the table. the food runner warned me to watch out; the plate was hot, but the meat was not. you could appropriately wear lederhosen to this dish. it tasted close to a fancy version of a hot dog. the mustard jus was good, but why not just mustard? and why not cabbage or sauerkraut instead of polenta? and, really, why not sausage?the teutonic overtures here were only half-hearted.

desserts were saucer-shaped. the chocolate cake was dry, sweetened up with a small scoop of ice cream and sitting in a pool of marshmallow sauce, whatever that is, with some peanut brittle crumbs in it. there was nothing totally wrong with it. an apple tart was anointed with star anise ice cream; it's never too early to start preparing for the poultry influenza, and i have seen scientific conjecture that this seed may be medicinal when it comes. the crust was buttery, sandy, resembling a smart cookie.

service was students?

Edited by giant shrimp
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So, if you look carefully you can see this sign posted in a small little nook above the bar that says: OCCUPANCY 57.

YEAH RIGHT!

There were 57 people lined up at the bar when I got there at 6 let alone in the entire fucking room. My guess would be closer to 150-200 packed into the joint and for some stupid ass reason I stayed.

Edited by CrescentFresh
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So, if you look carefully you can see this sign posted in a small little nook above the bar that says:  OCCUPANCY 57.

YEAH RIGHT!

There were 57 people lined up at the bar when I got there at 6 let alone in the entire fucking room.  My guess would be closer to 150-200 packed into the joint and for some stupid ass reason I stayed.

Ho Ho! Ask Brendan about New Year's Eve!

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You know who is cooking some of the best fish in town? Brendan Cox, that is who. Rockfish served on top of a puree of fennel and potato with a colorful golden yellow broth with tomato and saffron.

BTW, the duck confit app is pretty darn tasty too.

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You know who is cooking some of the best fish in town?  Brendan Cox, that is who.  Rockfish served on top of a puree of fennel and potato with a colorful golden yellow broth with tomato and saffron.

BTW, the duck confit app is pretty darn tasty too.

This secret is not supposed to make the rounds. CB is the closest I've come to being a regular since I joined the business. So don't go people, I need bar space. (But you're right Brendan is cooking some of the best fish in town.)
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Circle bistro were real jerks to me last night.

I had a 7:30 reservation, I called mid week to add someone to my 7:30 reservation. Last night I get to Circle Bistro and the door is locked. The bartender opens the door and says that they are closed. I tell him we have a 7:30 reservation. He tells me they are closed, the last reservation was at 5:30 and to try Dish. I inform him we have a reservation, that I confirmed, and that I don't want to go to Dish because I don't like it.

He doesn't believe I have a reservation. We go to the bar to wait for our third. I ask if he has a zagat guide so we could call other restaurants to see if we could get in, he says he does not, mean while his back is too us for this entire time, he does not try to engage in conversation except to advocate going to Dish about five more times, each time I tell him that I don't like Dish. I go outside to use my cell phone to call restaurants-after he does not offer us the use of the house phone, or make any effort to fix their mistake and get us in somewhere not owned by the restaurant. We get into vidalia and our thrid arrives and we leave.

He never offered us a drink even though we were sitting at the bar for 20 minutes. He had his back to us the whole time. I would have paid for a drink, but he made no indication that the bar was open. I think he should have comped us a drink at least and been a lot more helpful after they screwed up- ofered the use of their phone to call other places, or called himself.

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Went to Circle Bistro last night

appetizer - Maine “Blue Johnny” Mussels

entree - rockfish

dessert - lemon lavender pound cake with honey sorbet

The food was wonderful!!!!

Mussels were divine!!!! The perfect temperature and plumpness and the sauce was subtle but not bland.

Rockfish was really good, but my friend's ducking with the steamed spinach and chopped almonds was much, much better. The duck was SOOO flavorful and tender!! Rockfish was good, but the potato and tomato puree surrounding the rockfish was too soupy for my tastes and it masked the flavor of the rockfish.

I normally don't like lavender flavor in my food, but it was just enough of a hint in the pound cake to be very tasty and new and exciting. I just wish there had been a larger scoop of the sorbet because pound cake tends to be pretty dry. Again, my friend's dessert was fabulous. She had the chocolate parfait and it was just light enough that you did not feel like a total glutton for indulging. And the layers in the glass made for an extra special visual appeal.

My only issue was with the service. After having several drinks at the bar, we were only drinking water with dinner. The server NEVER came to refill our water. It was not until our glasses were completely empty did we have to actually get someone's attention to fill the water glass. I was very unhappy with this since we were one of only 6 occupied tables in the smallish dining room.

Also, we had to ash for fresh pepper. Fresh pepper should be offered if not immediately after your food is served than surely after a bite or two. So the servers were nice enough but they left a lot to be desired in the actual serving area. The host was very gracious though and he did come by and ask if everything was OK. And he cleared our appetizer plates. Humility goes a long way for me in restaurants.

One other concern. The website lists 3 seasonal prix fix menus (http://www.thecirclehotel.com/ut_bistro_prixfixd.htm ) But not only did they not have this as an option, but the server and the host did not even know what I was talking about when I asked.

Please, please restaurateurs, keep your online menus updated! I understand if every single dish that you are currently serving can't be listed on there, because you want to use the freshest, most available ingredients of the season. But there is no reason that an entire prix fix option is listed online but not even heard of in the restaurant!

But I would DEFINITELY recommend the restaurant. They just need to step up the service just a notch.

Peace & Many Blessings,

LJ

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." --Virginia Woolf

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Circle Bistro has changed their happy hour deal and their bar menu. Martinis on the drink menu, glasses of wine, and beers are all still half-price, everything else is regular price. Fries are a dollar more and the fish is now a tempura preparation with vegetables for $6 (I miss the old goujonette preparation that went for $4). Also, I find it helps to call ahead, since more than once this year we've shown up and the lounge has been closed for a private party.

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Mmmmmmmm.... we ate well here on Saturday night.

Stopped by for a quick bite after a long day. We didn't like the space - unattractive, low ceilings, smoky, loud, obnoxious neighboring table - and we were ignored when we walked in for at least 5 minutes before being seated, but the food was great. Chef Cox has got it going on.

The Mushroom Frisee Salad has been touted here before and it is superb. Yummy wild mushrooms, perfectly poached egg, and intense applewood bacon lardon flavor.

The trout is different from the online menu (which needs an update), but was a large fillet and very flavorful.

The gnocchi were great. Yukon gold potato, very large pieces with Fontina Cheese and Portabella Mushrooms. Mmm. Not sure if it was the same sauce or not, but the organic broccoli served alongside was the best broccoli I've ever had. Seriously, I liked everything we ate, but the broccoli was the highlight of the meal - it really was that good.

I mentioned, we didn't love the atmosphere, but our server was actually very good. Its clear a lot of their staff is from the neighboring college and I thought we were in for trouble when this young-looking, college kid stumbed up to our table, but he was actually very good. Probably the best service from someone under 25 that I can recall. Nothing particularly special, just nice to see someone so young, working so hard, being so polite, and exercising good professional judgment.

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