Modern French Cuisine | Acclaimed Duck Burger | Onsite Herb Garden | Meal with a View | French Wines
Where to Sit: Ask for a table near the floor-to-ceiling windows, which look out over a sprawling koi pond and lush garden with an original Rodin statue at its center.
When to Go: Swing by during lunch, when the ever-popular Daffy burger is on the menu. This decadent sandwich showcases a patty blended with duck breast, duck leg, and foie gras. The patty is topped with even more foie gras, as well as a sweet-and-sour onion agradolce to cut the richness.
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Dress Code: Come as you are. Although you’ll still see business suits and date-night dresses, 2941 shed its former special-occasion-only image with a complete redesign in 2012, incorporating a laid-back dress code to match its more casual culinary offerings.
Behind the brick façade of Plush Gelato & Coffee, owners Dinh and Henry Luong handcraft a rainbow of velvety gelatos and sorbets to match a variety of custom-brewed coffee and lattes. Spheres of creamy gelato scooped away from frosty peaks woo sweet teeth with locally sourced and seasonal flavors such as chocolate hazelnut, nutella cookie, and vietnamese coffee ($3.75 for small; $4.50 for medium; $5.25 for large). Blood orange, strawberry, and mango juices freeze into smooth sorbet with a unique texture that comes from millions of microscopic crystals. Rather than licking a car battery, awaken somnolent palates with a large cup of piping hot coffee ($2.25) or a foamy latte ($3.75).
Belgian restaurants are muscling into the Washington dining scene in a big way. Mussels and frites can be found in just about every neighborhood, and some of the better restaurants also sport additional Belgian treats. Chef Claudio Pirollo started his career by being named “Best Young Chef in Belgium” and his cooking success continues at his Palisades neighborhood bistro, Et Voila. The restaurant boasts top-of-the-line Belgian flavors like steamed mussels and pommes frites, carbonnade à la flamande and lapin à la bière. Even the atmosphere smacks of the old country, the soft, off-white walls are all decorated with posters featuring local cartoon hero Tintin, and the long and narrow dining area features a classic pressed-tin-tin ceiling.
Le Vieux Logis translates directly from the French to "the old lodge." And when it changed hands in January 2014, co-owner Chef Gautrois brought back the old-world ambiance that people grew to love over the years, not just in the food but the decor as well.
From the outside, the eatery has the feel of a countryside cottage, with a terracotta roof and dark wood shutters. And on the white stucco is a handpainted mural of a mountainside meadow, with people perched at bistro tables. This look and feel carries through to the interior, where the banquettes are upholstered in rich tapestries and quaint knickknacks such as copper buckets and painted china adorn the walls.
The menu heralds a return to classic French cooking, lauded by the Washington Post as "a stroll down memory lane, to a time when white space was less of an aspiration in restaurant dishes." Here's a sampling of what to try when you visit:
When Sonny Abraham took a job at his father's restaurant, he assumed it would be a temporary arrangement until he received his pilot's license. But it was amid the hot suds of soapy dishes and the clatter of pots and pans that he fell in love with the restaurant industry and began dreaming of starting a fine-dining establishment of his own. In pursuit of his new dream, Sonny secured culinary positions at upscale hotels throughout Washington, DC, even traveling to Switzerland to work in a high-end kitchen. Ten years later, Sonny captains the kitchen of his own restaurant, Brasserie Monte Carlo.
Inside the restaurant, which was very recently REAL certified by the United States Healthful Food Council, Sonny whips up French Mediterranean dishes with housemade sauces and herbs from his own garden. The chef often delivers the still-sizzling dishes to the dining room himself, where diners await their meals over glasses of fine wine. A vivid mural sweeps across one wall, depicting typical scenes from Monte Carlo, from French sunbathers tanning on a beach to an ex-car-insurance salesman working on his first attempt at a romance novel, Even Car-Insurance Salesmen Fall in Love.
Blue 44 is the go-to spot for a moderately-priced, dependable meal in Washington’s Chevy Chase neighborhood. Already considered one of the area’s best restaurants despite its 2011 arrival date, the classic upscale American menu here is versatile without being huge. For appetizers, tackle a pierogi, claw through some lobster mac ‘n’ cheese or down duck confit eggrolls. For something light, there are several options for soup and salad, and sandwiches range from raved-about burgers to crab cakes to a Pittsburgh cheese steak, courtesy of the owner’s Western Pennsylvania heritage. The ample dining room is bathed in dark tones, with a textured tile ceiling and lots of tall, stiff-backed booths. Chandeliers light the main eating area dimly, while simple photographs and painted brick touches fill out the style. Sneak back to the small hooded bar for a drink; there are only a few seats, but the drinks are worth standing for.