100 Best Restaurants 2008: Westend Bistro
No. 15: Westend Bistro
Reviewed By Todd Kliman, Ann Limpert, Cynthia Hacinli, Dave McIntyre
Comments () | Published January 1, 2008
100 Best Restaurants (2011) Happy Hour 100 Best Restaurants (2010)

Westend Bistro
Address: 1190 22 St., NW, Washington, DC 20037
Phone: 202-974-4900
Neighborhood: Foggy Bottom/West End
Cuisines: Fusion/Eclectic
Opening Hours: Open for lunch Monday through Friday 11:30 to 2:30. Open for dinner Sunday through Thursday 5:30 to 10, Friday and Saturday 5:30 to 11.
Nearby Metro Stops: Foggy Bottom-GWU
Price Range: Moderate
Dress: Upscale Casual
Noise Level: N/A
Reservations: Not Needed
Best Dishes Tuna carpaccio sprinkled with chives; a pot of salmon rillettes; shrimp-and-bean soup; macaroni and cheese with ham and toasted bread crumbs; a golden-crusted fish burger with saffron aïoli; a filet of wild striped bass with Asian spices.
Price Details: Starters $10 to $16, Main dish $16 to $30

Cuisine: The long-awaited Washington outpost of Eric Ripert’s growing culinary empire is no note-for-note re-creation of his revered Le Bernardin in New York. Ripert has dispensed with the formal elegance of his flagship, along with its purely piscatory focus, opting for a roster of classics—fish stews, braised veal cheeks, pasta Bolognese, even a hamburger—all rendered with the touch of a four-star chef.

Mood: The generic upscale design does little to create a specific sense of place in the glass-walled ground floor of downtown DC’s Ritz-Carlton—you could be in any hotel in any city in the world. But there is buzz: In the early weeks, young, well-heeled diners flocked to the place, dishing knowingly about the pouty-lipped chef between sighs over the food.

Best for: People looking for the elegance and finesse of dining out at the highest level without the formality and the fuss—or the exorbitant prices.

Best dishes: Creamy West Coast oysters; mini fish burgers topped with shaved fennel; rich and zesty tagliatelle Bolognese; veal cheeks in a buttery pillow of potato purée; Chesapeake seafood stew abundant with shellfish, its broth intense and light; poached skate wing and braised endive in a lush brown-butter sauce; chocolate-caramel cream topped with sea salt.

Insider tips: If you’ve never eaten at Le Bernardin and wonder what the fuss is about, zero in on two dishes: The salmon rillettes is the same recipe as the one served in Manhattan, and the Chesapeake seafood stew, though shy of four-star elegance, hews to the parent kitchen’s philosophy of seeking out the freshest fish and treating it with reverence. You won’t find mini fish burgers at Le Bernardin, but don’t miss them here: The two-biters—served three to an order on the bar menu—are even more satisfying than the regular-size fish burger. They’re also easier to share and a lot cheaper.

Service: ••½

Subscribe to Washingtonian
Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 01/01/2008 RSS | Print | Permalink | Washingtonian.com Restaurant Reviews