Bistrot Lafayette

A relaxed place for French-provincial classics.

From January 2004

Chef Keo Koumtakoun ran the kitchen at Le Paradis in Gaithersburg, La Provence in Vienna, and Saveur in DC. Isabelle Zorro ran the dining room at Le Refuge in Alexandria. They have joined forces to make this a satisfying French-provincial restaurant providing cuisine bourgeoise in an informal setting.

The cooking tends to the hearty. Good appetizers have been the sautéed calamari with roasted bell peppers and garlic confit; a fricassee of fresh portobello mushrooms with garlic butter and garlic confit; grilled Japanese eggplant with Roquefort and diced tomato with thyme and parsley; a mixed salad topped with duck confit; and a thick mushroom soup with a dollop of olive oil in the center.

For the main event, try the lamb shank with linguine and diced vegetables; a saddle of rabbit stuffed with mushrooms; a rack of lamb with fresh thyme jus; a fine version of bouillabaisse; and salmon glazed with a Key-lime sauce. Winners among the house-made desserts are the tarte tatin and the pear poached in Cabernet. The bread is excellent. The wine list includes a number of good bottles in the $20 range.