100 Best Restaurants 2008: Bastille

No. 58: Bastille

Cuisine: Modern French bistro fare with international influences. Chef/owners Christophe Poteaux and Michelle Garbee indulge in flights of creativity but avoid excessive tinkering.

Mood: Very Left Bank—edgy paintings, oxblood-red walls, dark-wood floors, and a long bar anchoring the back wall that evokes long nights of Piaf and absinthe.

Best for: Starry-eyed couples and foursomes as well as Francophiles of every stripe.

Best dishes: Unusual wine cocktails such as the pomegranate fizz with Blanc de Blanc and a lemon twist; shrimp-and-calamari beignets with fiery harissa dip; pan-seared foie gras with Calvados-sautéed apples; over-the-top roast chicken with prunes, lardons, cippoline, and Cognac-foie-gras sauce; rib-eye or bistro steak with long-pepper sauce; braised short ribs with red-wine-and-porcini sauce; “cassoulet” with duck breast, confit, and garlicky white beans; savory goat-cheese cake with a sweet-fig Banyuls compote; squash cheesecake with maple-pecan streusel.

Insider tips: Sunday night is the night for diners on a budget: A three-course dinner for $24 offers bistro classics and other choices from the regular menu. More deals: a set three-course dinner Monday through Wednesday for $29 and a three-course pretheater dinner Thursday through Saturday before 7 for $35, with a handful of choices. In winter, ask for a table away from the door; in summer, the patio is charming.

Service: ••½

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.