No. 22: Bistro Bis
Cuisine: French bistro cooking as interpreted by Jeff Buben, known for his haute Southern fare at Vidalia. Buben is not afraid of fat, which, coupled with his Southern largesse, makes for lusty plates such as a big mound of Toulouse-sausage-studded white beans with duck-leg confit on top.
Mood: Though modern in design, the amber-lit dining rooms are sized for intimate conversation, and there are booths aplenty. In the shadow of the Capitol, Bis usually has a lively bar scene, with politicos quaffing cocktails and ordering from a more gently priced bar menu.
Best for: Cozy, romantic dinners, power breakfasts and lunches, dinner at the bar.
Best dishes: Quail stuffed with foie gras mousse and truffle risotto; potage gascogne, soup made with rich duck broth and studded with duck meatballs and marrow beans; duck-liver parfait with pickled cherries; crisp pork belly with spaetzle and mustard greens in pork-and-mustard-green jus; caramelized-apple tarte normande with goat’s-milk ice cream.
Insider tips: The main dining room with its gas fireplace is the place to be. Because the crowd ebbs and flows according to what’s happening on the Hill, Bis is an easier weekend reservation than some other top restaurants. Parking in the garage across the street is free with validation. Hand off the car at the hotel door and it will cost $22.
Service: **** (four stars).
Open Monday through Friday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Saturday and Sunday for breakfast, brunch, and dinner.
See all of 2009's 100 Best Restaurants.