Food

Bistrot du Coin

A boisterous French-style bistro.

From January 2003 100 Very Best Restaurants

At lunch, Bistrot du Coin has a sense of leisure that encourages one to dawdle over an aperitif before deciding whether one is in the mood for a pate de campagne followed by a soothing blanquette de veau, or a crock of onion soup and an open-face sandwich topped with smoked salmon. At night, stools at the zinc-topped bar are at a premium, and the sound and energy levels go up.

This is as much a Dupont Circle neighborhood bar as it is a restaurant. Drink prices are reasonable: A glass of the very good house Champagne is $7, and Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label–$15 a glass around town–is $10 here. Ricard, the largest-selling aperitif in France, is a bargain at $3.95, and the connoissieur's Cognac, Hine "Rare and Delicate," is a steal at $6.50 for a generous snifter. The wine list, a collection of French country wines, offers delicious reds and whites at fair prices.

Bistrot du Coin averages more than 400 customers a day. In the past year chef Yannis Felix's kitchen has grown inconsistent. What one expects to be a gloriously crisp-skinned duck confit arrives with the pale skin reminiscent of a hotel-banquet chicken. The tartiflette–originally a heroically rich gratin of potatoes, bacon, and Reblochon cheese–lately was a mush of overcooked potatoes and gloppy cheese. And the once-wonderful Nicoise tripe stew is sometimes served with more potatoes than tripe.

To dine reasonably well while enjoying the hubbub, consider a wonderful salad of grilled scallions with a confit of duck gizzards; a consistently good onion soup; the thin, flavorsome rump-steak and fries that are the standard of Paris cafes; and the daily specials–such as a plate of wonderful rib chops of lamb served with a classic ratatouille–which nowadays seem more dependable than the dishes on the set menu.

Don’t Miss Another New Restaurant—Get Our Food Newsletter

The latest in Washington’s food and drink scene.

Or, see all of our newsletters. By signing up, you agree to our terms.