100 Best Restaurants 2010: Bistro Bis

No. 14: Bistro Bis

Cuisine: Straightforward Gallic classics—onion soup, pots of moules, beef bourguignon—share space with more elaborately sculpted creations. Fashions come and go, restaurants open and close, but proprietor Jeff Buben’s Capitol Hill restaurant endures.

Mood: You’d never know that this plush, honey-toned hotel dining room—the sister to downtown DC’s Vidalia—was a bistro, save for the ceramic moutarde jars and magnums of Moët that line the hallway like an exhibit. Well-heeled Meursault sippers sit banquette-to-banquette with big-name politicos in the dining room; younger staffers nibble cheese plates at the bar.

Best for: Low-key mussels and wine at the bar; dealmaking dinners; a date that you want to seem special but not too extravagant.

Best dishes: Onion soup, peppery and gooey with Gruyère; creamy duck-liver parfait; beet salad, one of the prettiest around; mussels with cider cream; pan-roasted sirloin with a cone of perfect fries; buttery halibut with lobster; baked-to-order apple tart; fig tart with vanilla custard.

Insider tips: Come dessert time, it pays to remember that Bis rolls one of the best cheese carts in town. And though the parade of big spenders seems content to use the hotel’s valet, there’s free parking in the garage across the street daily after 5:30.

Service: •••

Open Monday through Friday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Saturday and Sunday for breakfast, brunch, and dinner. Very expensive.

See all of 2010'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 Petworth.