327 Seventh St., SE
Washington, DC 20003
Neighborhood: Capitol Hill, Capitol Hill, Southeast
Tuesday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday and Sunday for brunch and dinner.
Nearby Metro Stops: Eastern Market
Price Range: Moderate
Noise Level: Chatty
Mussels with chorizo or shallots and cream; chestnut soup; duck pâté with Armagnac (a special); roasted-eggplant mousse; braised rabbit with linguine; seafood pot au feu; hanger steak with red-wine sauce; floating island; fruit tarts.
Most of the grand French restaurants that ruled the scene a generation ago have died off, casualties of an age that equates formality with fustiness. The low-key bistro, however, has survived the tectonic shift, and this Eastern Market mainstay epitomizes its appeal.
It’s one of the liveliest spaces in town, a densely packed room that evokes a Gauloise-stained Paris bar where the “other” Capitol Hill—the not-forever-working crowd—relaxes over red wine while cooks clang pans in the open kitchen.
New chef Brian Wilson has brought an unexpected lightness to the stove, adding more fish and introducing a lineup of tartines and quiches. These are welcome changes, but Wilson is wise to recognize a vision that doesn’t need reinventing. This remains French country cooking, robust and generous—and at a price that feels like a bargain. Don’t miss: Mussels steamed in white wine or pastis; country pâté; mushroom consommé with barley; Arctic char with shrimp and trumpet mushrooms; swordfish in fennel sauce; crème brûlée; chocolate tart; floating island. Open: Tuesday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday and Sunday for brunch and dinner. Moderate.