Chez Billy Sud

Image: Escargot

Last Updated: 5/29/2021

Current Status: For the time being, Chez Billy and its adjoining wine bar (Bar à Vin) are combined into one space with a single reservations site.  They continue to do to-go. Links to both to-go and reservations are on their website.

Gift Cards

Employee Relief – for all Hilton Bros (H2) enterprises.

Before Times Review:

Last Visited: October 2019

Housed in a jewel box of a spot, this French gem sits on a Georgetown sidestreet.  The décor is upscale bistro with light blue walls, framed mirrors and white tablecloths.  There is no real bar area, making the space more refined and focused on serving variations on French classics to seated diners.  They have, however, taken over the space next door and opened a wine bar where you can now get the full menu.  To eat the food at Billy’s abode (the first one in Petworth closed, hence the sud in the name), you must sit and settle in among the crowd of aging locals who wander in, couples treating themselves to date-night, and groups of friends splurging (sometimes boisterously).

The food is the epitome of French food that warms your soul.  Pâté, vol-au-vent escargots, trout, duck confit and steak frites are all on the menu.  If you ever were tempted to try escargots, but never pulled the trigger, this is the place to try them and understand their mystique.  Sprinkled among these standards are other dishes derived from classic French cuisine that rotate through for seasonal variety.  Gnocchi may be replaced by semolina dumplings, tuna for loup de mer, duck breast for lamb.  What is welcome is that the touch of the kitchen is deft.  It does not shy away from butter or salt (drink water to avoid waking up with a parched mouth).  The plates are composed with the same attention with which they are cooked.  Desserts are also classic, the most dramatic being the Paris Brest of cream and puff pastry.

The wine list is representative, choosing to carry just one or two from some appellations rather than trying to be encyclopedic.  It is a deeper and better curated list than might be expected.  On a recent visit, there was a tough to find red blend from Provence (Château Simone, Palette) that managed to be both interesting and enjoyable. The service is friendly and earnest more befitting the neighborhood vibe than an haute cuisine pretender.

If you are looking for an alternative to the scene of Le Diplomate and the comforts of a traditional appetizer, entrée, dessert dinner, Chez Billy Sud will take care of you.  It is worth making the trip.

Other Guidance:  The dress is befitting a Georgetown neighborhood spot.  Couples dressed up for the Kennedy Center mix with locals in jeans and t-shirts.  GF can do well, but be sure to ask because the French sneak flour into many dishes.  Vegetarians have a harder time, but can pick out a few dishes.

Rating: Worth Paying for Cab
Cuisine: French
Neighborhood: Georgetown
Address: 1039 31st St NW, Washington DC

Other Critics/Voices:

Washington Post: Tom lowballed it at 2.0

Washingtonian: #80 in 2019;  #60 in 2018’s 100 Best.

Rick: Honorable Mention in the Spring 2019 Top 25.