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Mark Slater

Et Voila! French-Belgian Bistro in Palisades - Chef Claudio Pirollo on MacArthur Blvd and Dana Place

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We went tonight and had an excellent meal. Both chef/partners Claudio Pirollo and Mickael Cornu were there on Sunday night! Great pate, super mussels and a delicious gratin of prosciutto wrapped endive for starts. The rib-eye steaks were perfectly done. Charming service made the evening thouroughly enjoyable.

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We had an excellent late dinner at Et Voila tonight - our choices were basic bistro fare - steamed mussels in a garlic cream sauce for me and a green salad and hanger steak for my husband. The mussels were small and tender, and the cream sauce was not too heavy and was loaded with garlic. French fries were crispy and appeared to have been double fried. The salad had a light vinaigrette and came with garlic toast and goat cheese. The hanger steak was perfectly cooked to medium, with fingerling potatoes on the side. Bottled water and coffee brought the tab to $60. Service was friendly and the space, although small, is quite pretty.

We had only disappointing meals at the restaurant that was in this spot previously. We are glad to have this new addition to the neighborhood and definitely will be back.

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The tomato and beet salad was bliss. As was the tarte tatin. And after waiting a significant amount of time for our table, once seated we understood how it was that the table of women that had been camping there for 2.5+ hours didn't want to leave... service was very charming. As was the accent.

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The tomato and beet salad was bliss. As was the tarte tatin. And after waiting a significant amount of time for our table, once seated we understood how it was that the table of women that had been camping there for 2.5+ hours didn't want to leave... service was very charming. As was the accent.

He was cute, wasn't he? I'm happy to have followed Mark Slater's advice to go, but sorry to have waited until TS reviewed the place - they were slammed last Tuesday until about 9:30. Et Voila is a real gem. If the crowds die down it will be on frequent rotation for the porcupines.

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We went tonight and had an excellent meal.
We had an excellent late dinner at Et Voila tonight
The tomato and beet salad was bliss.
Et Voila is a real gem.

Count me as a dissenting vote. As promised, I returned to Et Voila this evening.

Frozen bread, crummy fries, forgettable mussels, a mediocre onglet - Et Voila is an overpriced neighborhood restaurant, no better than Kemble Park Tavern. Its one big strength is a good list of bottled Belgian beers.

Traditionally, it has been considered in poor form for one restaurant critic to review the work of another, but at what point does it become negligent not to do so?

If Tom Sietsema had a non-paying blog, he'd get a free pass, but the Washington Post restaurant critic has a fiduciary responsibility to the public, and to dole out 2.5 stars for nothing more than a decent neighborhood restaurant - which is a shadow of Belga Cafe, and much less interesting than Brasserie Beck - seems just plain wrong. How can Et Voila earn the same star rating as The Oval Room and Corduroy?

Am I a traitor for saying this? Tune in tomorrow at 4 PM.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Count me as a dissenting vote. As promised, I returned to Et Voila this evening.

Frozen bread, crummy fries, forgettable mussels, a mediocre onglet - Et Voila is an overpriced neighborhood restaurant, no better than Kemble Park Tavern. Its one big strength is a good list of bottled Belgian beers.

Traditionally, it has been considered in poor form for one restaurant critic to review the work of another, but at what point does it become negligent not to do so?

If Tom Sietsema had a non-paying blog, he'd get a free pass, but the Washington Post restaurant critic has a fiduciary responsibility to the public, and to dole out 2.5 stars for nothing more than a decent neighborhood restaurant - which is a shadow of Belga Cafe, and much less interesting than Brasserie Beck - seems just plain wrong. How can Et Voila earn the same star rating as The Oval Room and Corduroy?

Am I a traitor for saying this? Tune in tomorrow at 4 PM.

Cheers,

Rocks.

As long as you stick to what you believe in, have integrity and take pride in what you do....you'll never be wrong. The truth could be hard to say or hear, but it's better than the alternative. Cause you're keepin' it real. :lol:

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It is absurd to think that there is, or should be, a conspiracy of silence, an omertà, among people who style themselves journalists, or at least are part of the business of journalism. And yet, as you indicate, Don, there is a kind of cloying professional courtesy. For example, very few reporters are willing to say what a dud Gwen Ifill was on the VP debate. She failed to ask probing questions, didn't follow up, and generally acted like she was on sedatives. Only James Fallows of The Atlantic had the gumption to point that out. For your part, you must exercise your critical faculties wherever they lead you. Pulling your punches on one aspect of the dining industry disqualifies you from commenting on any other.

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I had lunch there for the first time last weekend, and, based on that one experience, must tentatively agree with Don: The mussels were ok but nothing special; the fries and waffles very disappointing.

Count me as a dissenting vote. As promised, I returned to Et Voila this evening.

Frozen bread, crummy fries, forgettable mussels, a mediocre onglet - Et Voila is an overpriced neighborhood restaurant, no better than Kemble Park Tavern. Its one big strength is a good list of bottled Belgian beers.

Traditionally, it has been considered in poor form for one restaurant critic to review the work of another, but at what point does it become negligent not to do so?

If Tom Sietsema had a non-paying blog, he'd get a free pass, but the Washington Post restaurant critic has a fiduciary responsibility to the public, and to dole out 2.5 stars for nothing more than a decent neighborhood restaurant - which is a shadow of Belga Cafe, and much less interesting than Brasserie Beck - seems just plain wrong. How can Et Voila earn the same star rating as The Oval Room and Corduroy?

Am I a traitor for saying this? Tune in tomorrow at 4 PM.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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I think that space is cursed. When we moved to the nabe in 1996, it was a breakfast and lunch joint where you could go in and buy fresh bagels to take home on Sunday morning. That made sense, but they gave up. The space was empty for a long time, as I recall. And then a series of meh sorts of restaurants have tried to make a go of it.

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I had lunch there for the first time last weekend, and, based on that one experience, must tentatively agree with Don: The mussels were ok but nothing special; the fries and waffles very disappointing.

Interesting.

The speculoos ice cream is the single best flavor of ice cream I have had on this side of the Atlantic in a restaurant. Excepting Berthillion's prune and armagnac in Paris this is a extraordinary dessert and probably the best flavor I have had anywhere. With cinnamon, cloves, ginger and brown sugar, for me, it is reason alone to discover the softly lit twelve foot wide dining room which feels exactly like Brugges is outside the door.

Et Voila's appetizer mussels, with Pastis, saffron and thick slices of fresh garlic and cherry tomatoes are the best moules I have had in the D. C. area. Outstanding. Just truly exceptional. Far more flavorful than Beck's, Central, Cafe du Parc and a host of others.

Modest disappointment with the scallops and rib eye; very good butternut squash soup, good chocolate mousse but again, all in an ambience that feels for all the world that a walled or a city with a moat is just outside the door. For Et Voila you need not cross an Ocean to experience a very good, local Belgian bistro with at least several exceptional dishes.

Worthy of its stars.

___________________

Addendum: this is a recipe for speculoos ice cream - http://onfoodandwine.wordpress.com/2007/03...n-le-speculoos/

I have not found a recipe for the ice cream on the web. But using this as a base I will make it. Just incredibly flavorful ice cream.

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Brunch yesterday at Et Voila was very worthwhile. My Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon was just absolutely delicious, smothered in a creamy, just perfectly lemony hollandaise. We tried the charcuterie plate and the pate was ample and flavorful.

I tasted the moules et frites and was impressed--the mussels were very clean and done simply.

Topped off with a bloody mary, it was a great pre-holiday brunch with friends. We'll be back for dinner some night, hopefully soon.

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Weird. My dining companion had a beef stew that while tender was bland. My shortribs, however, were above par - spaetzle and cauliflower puree under it adding a creamy counterpoint to the rich meat. How could two fairly similar dishes be so disparate? Fresh asparagus soup special made you wonder if the "no cream" was a fib. But $93 for an otherwise modest dinner (soup, salad, two beers and glass of wine along with aforementioned entrees) at a little cafe in the 'hood. Yikes.

That said, service was very sweet and kind and attentive from the manager to the busboy. And compared to the chain-like feel of Kemble Tavern across the street this place may not be Brasserie Beck but it is a charmer.

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Count me in with the fans. Have enjoyed my two dinners at Et Voila immensely. Outstanding and flavorful hanger steak and excellent moules. The frites have been exemplar. Have also been delighted to find a Saumur red on the wine list-- not often found in the DC area and well worth it. Service has been welcoming and capable. The one caveat is that this is a small space that can feel cramped on busy evenings. Et Voila is a terrific addition to the MacArthur Boulevard dining scene.

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It's taken us a while to try this place, since we so rarely go out, even in our neighborhood. But we were driving by, it was late and we were hungry and I insisted we stop to see if we could get a table. Every table was full and two larger parties were already waiting, but it only took 10 minutes for a two-top to open up for us. It was extremely noisy, which didn't do good things for our mood, but that was soon turned around when the moules and frites, at $16 per order, were delivered. Jonathan had the creamy, garlicky preparation and I had "moules pastis" made with leeks, cherry tomatoes, a little bit of garlic and a lot of Ricard. Both versions were really good, with Jonathan's sauce being the better or the two. After a while, the sweetness of the pastis became a bit cloying, but the mussels themselves were exceedingly fresh, plump, juicy and abundant. The frites were hot, fried in fresh-tasting oil, crisp outside and fluffy inside. The bread was good--I dipped mine in the abundant broth of Jonathan's pot of mussels. The beer and cotes du rhone were both good. We had plenty to eat without ordering a first course or dessert, and got out of there for $54. The verdict from hewhocanoftenbeafussbudget: "I'll come back here again."

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I went into Et Voila last night looking forward to a nice meal at a good neighborhood restaurant, and got exactly what I was hoping for ... and then some.

There seems to be a French Connection going on here between the fibrous place mats (Victor at Silver Spoon?) the stemware (Jean-Philippe at Kruko?), and many of the wines (Olivier Daubresse at Vinifrance Imports). And I'll take a wine like the 2005 Chateau de Villeneuve Saumur-Champigny any day of the week. A lot of people know about Chinon, but I believe this wine is also Cab Franc based, and at $28 a bottle, is as good a red wine as you're going to find in a restaurant. It will go extremely well with many of Et Voila's dishes, and in fact carried through the entire dinner. The great 2005 vintage speaks strongly in this bottle, which was so good I ordered a second one, our gracious server packaging most of it "to go." I'm looking forward to another glass of this tonight.

The bread here remains problematic, with too doughy of a mie, and a cracker-hard crust from reheating; and the butter (frozen (which is fine), but bland (which isn't)) doesn't help. This bread needs to be dunked into a vat of mussels, soaking up the broth, but I just wasn't in the mood for mussels last night. (Incidentally, Didier, who you might remember from Montmartre and Adour, highly recommended both of the mussel appetizers (the casserole, and the gratiné). I know him very well as a diner, and have learned to respect and trust his recommendations - so you might want to give these a try.)

La terrine de campagne de mon ami "papi" et sa garniture ($10.50) is an excellent, finely blended pate served with an equally good red-onion compote and interesting greens. At $10.50, this was a frustratingly small portion, however, and really needs to be at least 50% larger.

Croquettes aux fromages (Chimay, Emmenthal et parmesan) ($12.00) came out looking like two ingots of fried mozzarella (!). Darkly breaded and large, the filling was more enjoyable than the visual, puffed up into almost a soufflé-like consistency, maybe by the addition of some potato, and also served with some high-quality greens. I'm glad I ordered this, but might not get it a second time - again, this is a fairly expensive appetizer for what it is.

An argument broke out at our table about the Truite grille et sa fondue de poireaux, crevettes grises et sauce Hoegaarden ($19.50), which I enjoyed for it's checkered grilling and sauce (which, surprisingly, was finished in a foam); my counterpoint felt the dish was overtly salty, especially the leeks, and did not enjoy the smokey character of the fish as much as I did.

By all means, order the Plat de côe Spätzle et mousseline de choux-fleurs ($18.00) with your Saumur-Champigny, a delicious bowl of properly (i.e., long) braised short ribs, with an inspired combination of (pan-fried?) Spätzle and cauliflower mousse. Not only would I get this dish again, I'm actually craving it. Right! Now!

Desserts may have been the highlight of the meal. Tarte Tatin avec sa Glace í  la Hoegaarden ($8.00) was an interesting take on an apple tarte tatin - not the caramelized version you might be expecting, but more pure and less intense, with a focus on the apple. It's accompanied by an outstanding Hoegaarden beer ice cream which is, needless to say, homemade. I LOVE Profiteroles ($8.00), but usually only in theory because they're almost always bad - the majority of versions use dried-out choux pastry (more like "shoe pastry") and something dangerously close to pourable Hershey's syrup; not here. A masterful rendition of profiteroles, with everything as it's supposed to be, right down to the homemade ice cream and almost Mexican-tasting Belgian chocolate syrup.

It's restaurants like Et Voila that give a city fiber and character - whenever you hear someone from NYC grumbling about the lack of good, casual, neighborhood places to dine in DC, this is exactly what they're talking about. It was packed last night, and deserved to be.

Cheers,
Rocks.

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We took my visiting BIL and SIL in for lunch today. I had the moules with blue cheese and cream, and I have now had four different preparations, and this one is my favorite. It had lots of garlic, as well as a broth that wasn't overly rich or cheesy, but full of complex flavor. As we were finishing up, at about 2:30, Roberto Donna and Michel Richard came in and sat down at a table. I asked the hostess/waitress if it was intimidating to cook for them, and she said "They are friends of ours." I asked Roberto how things were going with his schedule and he said that they were still on track to open in late October. They were both in good spirits, interacting with another customer's cute little three or four-year old girl, and teasing each other. At one point Michel brandished his knife as if he were going to use it to deflate Roberto's prominent belly.

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I have lived in the Palisades for twenty years and over that period of time the space where Et Voila is now located has been occupied by a dismal array of mediocre and sometimes pretentious restaurants. Then along came Et Voila and the rest is history. I took a friend of mine there for dinner three months ago. He has an apartment in Paris. He told me if he didn't know any better he would have thought he was at a bistro in the 7th Arrondissement. The owners, managers and chefs all make the experience of dining there a real pleasure. My wife and I often will just drop in for brunch on a weekend. Dinner on weekends is a mob scene so we tend to do dinner during the week. Is the food spectacular? No, but it is a fun place to get a good meal with a very Gallic twist. The enthusiasm of the staff and their obvious caring for the clientele make this place such a success.

I note that our genial mentor, Mr. Rockwell, has come around and if I read him correctly in his last post on the subject he now shares my enthusiasm for this neighborhood gem.

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I have lived in the Palisades for twenty years and over that period of time the space where Et Voila is now located has been occupied by a dismal array of mediocre and sometimes pretentious restaurants. Then along came Et Voila and the rest is history. I took a friend of mine there for dinner three months ago. He has an apartment in Paris. He told me if he didn't know any better he would have thought he was at a bistro in the 7th Arrondissement. The owners, managers and chefs all make the experience of dining there a real pleasure. My wife and I often will just drop in for brunch on a weekend. Dinner on weekends is a mob scene so we tend to do dinner during the week. Is the food spectacular? No, but it is a fun place to get a good meal with a very Gallic twist. The enthusiasm of the staff and their obvious caring for the clientele make this place such a success.

I note that our genial mentor, Mr. Rockwell, has come around and if I read him correctly in his last post on the subject he now shares my enthusiasm for this neighborhood gem.

I haven't lived in the Palisades quite as long as you have (13 years for me), but I share your sentiments about past and current denizens of this oddly shaped space. (Although it was nice, back when we first moved to DC, to have a place to go in the neighborhood to get bagel on Sunday morning.) If Et Voila we just a little bit less expensive, we'd be there more frequently.

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Taking advantage of a snow-triggered no-school day, my daughter and I and her 2 girls had lunch at Et Voila on Wednesday. My daughter and I both had French Onion Soup and the girls had the Et Voila Burger with frites. Actually, they even split that order. So we didn't plumb the depths of the menu at all. But everything we had was top notch and our experience was made especially pleasant by the charming and efficient waiter who cajoled the girls into speaking French with him and then presented them with Chocolate Mousse as a reward. The mousse, by the way, was dark and delicious!

My only complaint about the restaurant is that it is a long narrow space which is very noisy. Don't know how they might ameliorate that problem.

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Taking advantage of a snow-triggered no-school day, my daughter and I and her 2 girls had lunch at Et Voila on Wednesday. My daughter and I both had French Onion Soup and the girls had the Et Voila Burger with frites. Actually, they even split that order. So we didn't plumb the depths of the menu at all. But everything we had was top notch and our experience was made especially pleasant by the charming and efficient waiter who cajoled the girls into speaking French with him and then presented them with Chocolate Mousse as a reward. The mousse, by the way, was dark and delicious!

My only complaint about the restaurant is that it is a long narrow space which is very noisy. Don't know how they might ameliorate that problem.

Try to sit towards the front near the bar.

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Taking advantage of a snow-triggered no-school day, my daughter and I and her 2 girls had lunch at Et Voila on Wednesday.

...

presented them with Chocolate Mousse as a reward. The mousse, by the way, was dark and delicious!

That same evening I tried to go to Hook (yes, JU, I'm eager to try it again!), couldn't find parking at 6:10, noted that Georgetown Cupcake (old location) was loading up a UPS truck with boxes to deliver (to their new location), gave up, drove to BlackSalt, then decided to keep going all the way up to Et Voila.

So I had dinner at Et Voila, and also ordered that wonderful Mousse for dessert. As you say, it was dark and delicious, made doubly so by the chocolate BBs sprinkled on top. The only thing that kept the meal from being flawless was an overcooked piece of rockfish (in an otherwise-fine prep); I preferred the salmon, especially at the price. The charcuterie is purchased, but very good and it works well for two to share as an app.

I had a conversation with Didier that only a few people will appreciate. I ordered a glass of Chinon, and thought I recognized it. He came by to ask me how it was.

"Is this Givry?"

With a look of dismissal, he said, "Non! Givry is Pinot Noir!"

"No, I mean Laurent Givry, the importer."

"Oh! Yes, it is!" he said, before walking away, smiling.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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I had dinner last Monday and I thought it was the best bistrot food in the city with Central.

Everything is good quality and well prepared.

The French fries are great, the profiterolles are perfect, the mussels great and the beet salad perfectly seasoned.

I was looking for a regular spot not far from my house, I just found it.

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Et Voila! has crepes Suzette on the menu. When I was a little kid I thought crepes Suzette was the epitome of sophistication, not to mention delicious. And here they are. My notions of sophistication have changed over the years, but I'm still tickled whenever I see crepes Suzette on a menu. And they were delicious: rich, buttery, orangey, caramely... I think I'll go there tonight just for dessert.

eta: crepes Suzette only available at Sunday brunch.

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Very good short ribs last night at Et Voila! Mussels mariniere, with a garlic and white wine sauce, had a touch of rosemary or something we could do without. Would prefer a touch more garlic instead. But we're purists with mussels. These were fairly large and juicy. Nice cheese plate for dessert.

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Met friends here last night after a disappointing dinner at K Town Bistro recently. The only thing the two places have in common is the font on the menu. Et Voila! is still a warm, charming restaurant with delicious bistro classics, and a good beer list. Hanger steak was perfectly cooked, with an addictive green peppercorn sauce. Beef carbonnade was rich, tender, deeply flavored. New on the menu (or maybe I've never noticed it before): mussel burger, a patty made of chopped mussels and served like a hamburger. Desserts haven't changed much. This is just a wonderful little restaurant, a perfect "I don't feel like cooking" or last-minute "let's meet friends for a late dinner" kind of place. Actually, it's a lot better than that. DC needs more restaurants at this level.

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