100 Best Restaurants 2009: Circle Bistro

No. 92: Circle Bistro

Cuisine: The departure of chef Brendan Cox dealt a bit of a blow to this bistro, known for simple, uncluttered plates of French-inspired American cooking at affordable prices. The menu hasn’t changed much under Richard King, nor has the commitment to procuring top-notch meats, fishes, and produce, but the kitchen has been uneven.

Mood: The orange-walled room is an unexpected oasis—and one of the best spots in town for the opera- or symphony-bound or anyone in need of a getaway lunch. But service is sometimes off, and waits between courses can be long.

Best for: Diners headed to the Kennedy Center; nibbles with a crowd in the moodily lit lounge.

Best dishes: Highlights have included butternut-squash soup with pumpkin-seed oil; fried green tomatoes with rémoulade; brook-trout meunière; sliced hanger steak with bordelaise sauce; roast chicken with jus; souffléd chocolate bread pudding.

Insider tips: The $35 pretheater menu, available until 7, is a good deal, as are the well-priced lunch and bar menus.

Service: •½

Open Monday through Saturday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Sunday for brunch and dinner. Moderate to expensive.

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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 Logan Circle.