Yannick Cam has opened and closed lots of restaurants since he made a splash in 1978 with Le Pavillon in downtown DC. His latest creation, a bistro with an enclosed patio in Bethesda, is his most casual yet, at least in theory—you’ll still find $18 appetizers. High tabs make some nights’ hassles (forgetful service, late-seated reservations, lackluster cooking) less easy to forgive. But then you come upon a dish that’s a reminder of Cam’s talent—say, a perfectly cooked lobster claw curled over a bed of green lentils or a scattering of tiny clams studded with walnuts and onion confit. The place still has issues to work out, but one thing is without question: When Cam is on, he’s really on. Let’s hope that starts to happen every night.
Don’t miss: Asparagus with custard, chicory, and bacon; tian of spinach, potato, and olive; clafoutis.