Image: Often overlooked, but hard to miss.
Last Updated: September 2023
Walk up Wisconsin a few extra blocks and step back in time. Bistrot Lepic is not just old-school French cooking, it is old-school D.C. A cozy two-story spot. The downstairs is the dining room. Upstairs is a bar and lounge space for chatting over foie gras.
Classic dishes dominate the menu – escargot, foie gras, pied de cochon. It is hearty fare no doubt, and includes some rustic choices like liver or kidneys, but also fish, chicken, and a vegetable risotto. For the last few years, the kitchen has been under Jean-Baptiste Massala, who did several stints in D.C. after coming here to cook for the Embassy of Gabon (how much culinary talent does D.C. get from embassy kitchens?). For twenty years he has cooked with founder Bruno Fortin and carries on the tradition well. Desserts also lean towards classics with chocolate tart, crème brulee and ile flottante among the choices.
The official name of the place is Bistrot Lepic and Wine Bar. Wine is taken seriously. The list is a bit bifurcated, with many bottles under $100 and many two or three times that much and not much in between. The list is French and is stocked with gems that reflects the same thoughtfulness as everything else here. The upstairs bar, that often features a small jazz band, is one of the great little spots to hang.
Service traditionally is far from fussy but good, even if, like many places getting back up to speed, it has some glitches. While new establishments attempt to fabricate the feeling of the friendly, authentic spot around the corner, Bistrot Lepic has come by it naturally and honestly. A streatery has been added out front that provides some covered dining on Wisconsin.
Other Guidance: Small steps required, and the website advises it is not wheelchair accessible. It is a neighborhood nice spot, where jeans and t-shirts are not out of place, but there may be a nice double date of older folks who put on a tie for the occasion (as on our last visit). It is heavy French food, so GF and V be warned, though they do have a few options clearly targeted for those with dietary restrictions.
Washingtonian: Flagged as a strong neighborhood spot in 2008.