100 Best Restaurants 2011: Bistro Provence

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

Yannick Cam—one of Washington’s most talented old-guard chefs—trades lobster in Sauternes sauce for hanger steak at his latest restaurant, which opened a year after the shuttering of his formal Le Paradou. The front dining room, with jammed-together tables and fast-moving waiters, feels like Paris—the enclosed back garden, although pretty, isn’t as atmospheric.

Between the two is the open kitchen, where Cam prepares plates that are equal parts refined and rustic. Tiny clams are stuffed with walnuts and onion confit, and a roasted lobster claw is perched atop a bed of green lentils. (At all his restaurants, Cam has been masterful with this crustacean.)

Be prepared for lots of butter and cream—Cam is French, after all—even in innocent-sounding fish dishes such as branzino with clams. Another Cam tendency, alas, is inconsistency. A dessert crepe of almond cream and passionfruit might be ethereal one night, inedibly tart the next. But as has always been the case, when he hits the highs, they’re very high.

Also good: Thick, asparagus-laden custard with poached egg; branzino tartare; crabcakes with mussel cream; roast chicken with polenta; tian of spinach and olives; baba au rhum.

Open Tuesday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday for brunch and dinner, Sunday for dinner. 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 Logan Circle.