Three decades ago, the French ruled the city’s restaurant scene. Today the Gallic presence is mostly confined to casual restaurants. This veteran from one of Washington’s most respected chefs, Jeff Buben, is among the few remaining bastions of the destinations of yore. It might call itself a bistro, but its intention is to woo you with the kind of elegantly sumptuous cooking that inspired countless cookbook writers to pen love letters to French cuisine. There’s nothing innovative about this approach, but to take a first, swooning bite of snails in garlicky butter, or fried sweetbreads so light they might as well be dumplings, is to feel gratitude for rear-guard stubbornness.
Don’t miss: Foie gras normande; steak tartare; quenelles with butter-poached lobster; beef bourguignon; profiteroles; apple tart.