Neighborhood: Dupont Circle
For Official Co-Writer of DCWD CC, long-term boyfriend and all, it was never an issue, but for single me, it was constantly on my mind: what do you do for the blog when you go on an actual date? Does it cross a line to write about something so personal in a space so public? Do you have to get some sort of permission before you write about it? Is this something totally awkward to bring up in conversation? The answer to all these questions in my mind was yes.
So this entry, in a number of ways, is a first.
One of my favorite movies of all time is Casablanca, and because of that, part of me always wonders what La Belle Aurore would have looked like, particularly during the post-liberation period; Bistrot du Coin answers all those questions. The restaurant is notable from the street, because the front window opens up on nice summer nights, and there is always a noisy crowd making a ruckus. The dining area is mostly a large room, with a small second floor patio overlooking the space. From that balcony, hangs a giant "Vive La France" banner, one of about a thousand Gallic nods. Seriously, it's like 1945 Paris seized the decor and never let go; art deco and art nouveau posters, streamers and paper fans, even the napkins are red and blue.
The thing to note about Bistrot du Coin is that it's always crowded, reservations are non-existent, and the noise level is cranked up to 11. That and because of the crowd, the service is a little slow (though the hosts do a good job of checking in on you to make up for it). So while it's a great date place, these things make for some little downsides.
The one thing everybody says about Bistrot du Coin is that you have to try the mussels. Now my love of mussels is well known (see: mussels), so I had to go along with it. While some of the options seemed more appetizing, I was eating with a pescatarian, so we went with the moules traditionelle mouclade des charentes, mussels in a light cream sauce with curry. The mussels were good, on par with my faves Granville Moore's and Brasserie Beck, but suffered once more from the crime of not having enough bread to dip in the cream. Which was sad because it was actually a good one.
After sharing the mussels, we each got our own dish. She got the raviolis Bretonne, mini raviolis with various seafood, mushrooms, and a lobster sauce served au gratin. At best, it was strange, a motley selection of indiscernible seafood with a strange bitter taste to it. I wasn't the hugest fan.
For my part, I ordered the bouchee a la reine, a puff pastry filled with chicken, veal sweetbreads, mushrooms and a cream sauce. This was way better for me than the ravioli, and definitely more in line with my expectations. If anything, it was a good representation of the menu, and not just because it was listed in the "Bistrot du Coin specialties" section; rather, it actually had some classic French flavors. The cream, the combination of the chicken and mushrooms, the puff pastry... combined with the sweetbreads, it was a nice bite.
A few missteps to be sure, but an otherwise solid place for people who love French cuisine from Normandy to Provence. As long as you can put up with the noise.
Food Rating: *** (out of 5)
Date Rating: 3 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code: Casual
Bar Rating: Suits Scene
Cost: $$$ (out of 5) ($50-$75 for two)
Pairing: Down the street is Mitchell Park, one of the few public basketball courts (though only a half-court at that) that isn't completely occupied. It's also home to a foursquare space, and a wonderful looking park that's definitely worth a visit.