100 Best Restaurants 2009: Westend Bistro

No. 35: Westend Bistro

Cuisine: Eric Ripert’s mash-up of French nostalgia (pork cassoulet, rillettes) and American comfort classics (shrimp and grits) relies on precision cooking, a hallmark of the chef’s famed Le Bernardin in New York City. Four-star dining at two-star prices is the aim, and when things click, Westend comes close to that lofty ideal. But since the departure of Leonardo Marino and the arrival of Joe Palma, the kitchen has been erratic.

Mood: The buzz has dwindled, but weekends are still a tough reservation and the bar a gathering spot for older singles. With its gleaming wood and amber glow, the dining room is at its best when full.

Best for: The convivial bar scene; dining with friends; a business lunch; dinner with a date.

Best dishes: Tuna carpaccio dressed with lemon, chives, shallots, and olive oil; salmon rillettes with smoked and fresh fish; a terrific macaroni and cheese with toasted bread crumbs; perfectly cooked snapper with smoked-ham succotash; melting oven-roasted butternut and acorn squash and pumpkin; apple cobbler crunchy with brown sugar; chocolate-caramel cream.

Insider tips: A booth by the windows is the place to be. And ask for another table if you don’t like what you’re given—the tendency is to fill less desirable seats first.

Service: ••½

Open daily for lunch and dinner. Expensive.

See all of 2009's 100 Best Restaurants

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.