Can two nightlife impresarios change the fate of a “cursed” restaurant space? Fingers crossed the answer is “yes” at Parc de Ville, Eric and Ian Hilton’s stylish French brasserie opening today in the Mosaic district. The massive, glassy restaurant previously operated as RJ Cooper’s Gypsy Soul, which shuttered after an eviction lawsuit, and then became Requin, one of the early casualties of Mike Isabella’s massive empire collapse. But the Hiltons—the duo behind nearly a dozen DC hotspots like Brixton, Marvin, and Player’s Club—have poured money and talent into remaking the space. Among the improvements: a 100-seat, never-before-utilized rooftop that’ll debut this spring.
“It’s really funny because the space totally seems cursed. But to me, it’s so obvious why it was cursed: the way it was treated,” says Eric Hilton, adding that the odd, sprawling layout—which included ramps and offbeat gradations—didn’t help. “It was the most disastrous restaurant I’ve ever seen built. A good portion of our funds went into correcting the physical space.”
The new vision: a bustling brasserie outfitted with plush banquettes, warm lighting, and a roomy center bar for French wines and aperitifs. Chef Brendan L’Etoile of sister bistro Chez Billy Sud in Georgetown is behind the menu, which mixes bistro classics (escargots, French onion soup) with less common regional delicacies like oeuf en meurrette, a Burgundian dish with a duck egg, bacon, pearl onions, and mushrooms in a red wine sauce.
L’Etoile’s menu is similar in many ways to Chez Billy—take the steak frites or trout amandine. Parc de Ville, however, has a greater selection, including more options for kids and a more casual atmosphere to fit the suburban neighborhood. Eventually, the space will be open continuously throughout the day with the roomy “wine garden” above.
Parc de Ville is the first Hilton venture in Virginia, though it certainly won’t be their last. Cafe Colline, a casual all-day bistro, is slated to debut in Arlington next month, while an offshoot of U Street Mexican beer garden, El Rey, is coming to Ballston this spring. Other projects are underway for the District, too—they’re opening ABC Pony with chef Erik Bruner-Yang in Navy Yard very soon—but the suburbs are officially in play.
“I think there’s a bit of an over saturation in DC. There are so many new places now for a very finite crowd,” says Ian Hilton, who lives in Arlington. “It made sense to look at places where there are a lot of people and good opportunities. Plus it’s nice to have something more in my backyard as I edge closer to 50.”
Parc de Ville. 8296 Glass Alley, Fairfax, VA