100 Very Best Restaurants 2013: Montmartre

The dining room at Montmartre on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Photograph by Chris Campbell.

Most of the grand French restaurants that ruled the scene a
generation ago have died off, casualties of an age that equates formality
with fustiness. The low-key bistro, however, has survived the tectonic
shift, and this Eastern Market mainstay epitomizes its appeal.

It’s one of the liveliest spaces in town, a densely packed room
that evokes a Gauloise-stained Paris bar where the “other” Capitol
Hill—the not-forever-working crowd—relaxes over red wine while cooks clang
pans in the open kitchen.

New chef Brian Wilson has brought an unexpected lightness to
the stove, adding more fish and introducing a lineup of tartines
and quiches. These are welcome changes, but Wilson is wise to recognize a
vision that doesn’t need reinventing. This remains French country cooking,
robust and generous—and at a price that feels like a bargain. Don’t
miss:
Mussels steamed in white wine or pastis; country pâté;
mushroom consommé with barley; Arctic char with shrimp and trumpet
mushrooms; swordfish in fennel sauce; crème brûlée; chocolate tart;
floating island. Open: Tuesday through Friday for lunch and dinner,
Saturday and Sunday for brunch and dinner.
Moderate.

100 Very Best Restaurants 2013

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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.