100 Best Restaurants 2010: Circle Bistro

No. 86: Circle Bistro

Cuisine: After a rocky year, the kitchen seems to have stabilized with the arrival of Ethan McKee, a veteran of Equinox and Rock Creek at Mazza, whose French- and Mediterranean-influenced American menu runs to plates such as wild Alaskan halibut with chorizo, Swiss chard, and saffron butter.

Mood: Deciding where to sit can be hard. Will it be the teeming lounge, where you can nibble on snacks such as fries with fines herbes mayonnaise, or the conversation-friendly dining room done in shades of orange, yellow, and cream?

Best for: The Kennedy Center–bound—there’s a $35, three-course pre-theater meal from 5 to 7.

Best dishes: Crisp potato-crusted oysters with bacon-chive crème fraîche; roasted-beet salad with arugula and walnut vinaigrette; lamb rib eye with ratatouille and olive tapenade; duck with celery root, spinach, crispy leeks, and orange; a deconstructed brownie sundae including a dense, fudgy wedge of cake, house-made espresso ice cream, and candied walnuts.

Insider tips: There are lots of deals, including half-price cocktails, beer, and wine at the bar Monday through Friday from 4:30 to 7:30 and free bottomless mimosas at Sunday brunch.

Service: ••

Open Monday through Friday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Saturday for breakfast and dinner, Sunday for breakfast, brunch, and dinner. Moderate to 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 Logan Circle.