100 Best Restaurants 2011: Bistro Bis

No. 15

Only the top 40 restaurants were ranked in 2011's Best Restaurants list.

Other restaurants might offer more novelty on the plate or excitement in the setting, but few are more dependable than Jeffrey Buben’s estimable Bis, which aims for an understated excellence. You see it in the dining room, bathed in buttery light; in the superb Gallic-heavy wine list; and in the cheese cart, arguably the finest in the area.

The kitchen trades on the sort of intricate, old-school dishes that the current crop of culinary-school grads tends to shun. How many places would have the confidence to make quenelles—pillowy scallop-mousse dumplings, here set atop a creamy lobster sauce—a signature dish or the guts to showcase pan-fried sweetbreads as a main course? Steak tartare has become trendy, but few preparations are as satisfying as this one—its embellishments evidence of genuine mastery.

Also good: Oyster velouté in puff pastry; fricassee of rabbit; glazed pork chop; Alsatian-style salmon with mustard sauce; apple tart; crème brûlée.

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

>> See all of 2011's 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.