Image: Duck Confit
Last Updated 6/1/2021
Before Times Review:
Last Visit: December 2019
In a cavernous space next to Café Milano, restaurateur Hakan Ilhan is making a second go at a classic French brasserie. His first attempt was Bistro L’Hommage, which was ahead of its time across from City Vista. Whether there is enough traffic to fill this space is an open question, but the quality of the food is not – it is very good. The other thing Ilhan tried for a second time was to bring a chef from the Michelin 3-star Alinea to run the kitchen, Jaryd Hearn. (The first was Keith Bombaugh who is doing some great, overlooked work at Mirabelle) (NOTE: Hearn has been replaced by the talented Matthew Cockrell – previously of La Chaumiere, Le Diplomate, and Mintwood Place). This is excellent cooking that matches Le Diplomate for flavor without the heaviness that defines the cream, butter, salt trinity of that place.
There are three frites dishes: steak, moules, and fish. The moules were classic with white wine and fennel. The fries reportedly took 77 tries to get right and take three days to make from start to finish. The testing worked to make a crisp yet meaty version. The salmon rillettes is consistent with the slightly lighter theme composed of large chunks of fish and a modest amount of crème fraîche to hold it together. Duck confit comes on a bed of black lentils with a ring of mustard sauce. The leg is juicy, crispy and works well with the tang of the mustard. The beef bourguignon is hearty with smashed potatoes, while sauce is more like broth than a stewed-down lacquer. Desserts are also classic in approach with choices like profiteroles, crème brûlée and the Instagram-able Paris-Brest that adds crunchy sea-salt caramel to the crème. In short, the meal will leave you satisfied but not feeling bad about yourself. Prices are also in a sweet spot with many coming under $25 for mains.
The location is the old Morton’s, next to Café Milano. There is a patio area, weather permitting. When you enter there is a large bar to the right that stretches for yards. Ilhan brought some of his talented crew from Mirabelle to work on the beverage program. The wine list is solid with many choices under $100. The service team is still settling in, but manages to stay on top of most things. The kitchen is humming as well, even on a busy night.
Other Guidance: Attire trends toward nice night out, but still comfortable. GF and vegetarians can do well.
Washington Post: Tom gives it 2 stars. Dings it for a couple dishes he found off, though one of them was the salmon rillettes that we liked.
DonRockwell.com – no thread yet
Lori: Gives them a shout-out on Insta.