On Thursday night, after returning home from work, I came to the ghastly conclusion that there was absolutely nothing in our kitchen to cook for dinner. Rather than go down the street to the Usual Suspects (2 Amys, Cafe Ole, Cafe Deluxe, etc.), Amy and I decided that we needed a change of pace. The plan was to go down to Glover Park (or North Georgetown if you like) and go to either the wine bar at Bistrot Lepic or Cafe Divan for a quick dinner and then hit the grocery store afterward.
Upon arriving in Glover Park and parking easily on the wide-open 34th Street behind Cafe Divan, we decided to go with French food rather than Turkish. Besides, we had just been to Cafe Divan a couple weekends ago, when my parents had visited, and it's been forever since we've had French food. Rather than dine downstairs like our last trip to Bistrot Lepic, we went up the stairs to the wine bar and where there are a bunch of cozy, short little tables. When you reach the top of the stairs, you're standing facing the small bar at the one end of the room and to your left is the small dining area. There were a few couples sitting already with a group of four people in the corner. Overall, I'd say that the entire room can seat about 25 people maximum.
One thing to keep in mind is that smoking is allowed in the wine bar, so if you are really sensitive to smoke, this place is probably not for you. However, they do have ceiling fans blowing the air around and we barely noticed that the people two tables over from us were smoking. There was only a single waitress covering the entire room and she was scurrying around trying to get people their food and drinks. There was also a runner that was bringing dishes up from the kitchen downstairs.
The full menu is available at Bistrot Lepic's wine bar as well as their "Appeteasers" menu, which has a bunch of interesting small plates that you can order when you just feel like a small salad or plate of paté with a glass of wine. The small plates all looked fairly appetizing, but the country paté sounded especially good to me. Paté and a glass of wine always makes for a good meal. (I chickened out, though. I had a perfect opportunity to try snails and conquer one of my food phobias, but I ordered the paté instead. Oh well, maybe next time I'll grow some balls.) Amy decided to get two of the small plates rather than order a whole entree -- one of the special salads which was mixed greens with goat cheese and roasted red peppers, followed by the onion tart with bacon in soft pastry. All of the appetizers sounded (and looked, from what we could see on other tables) intriguing. There was also a plethora of specials. I ended up ordering one myself -- the hangar steak with frites (pronounced freet not fright. Amy is constantly correcting me when I pronounce that word incorrectly). As far as prices go, appetizers and salads range from $7 to $14. Entrees are a bit more expensive, ranging from $17 to $27. Specials can run a little more.
The wine menu has an average number of wines available by the glass. Now that Amy isn't drinking, I'm forced to order off of the limited selection of wines available by the glass rather than order a whole bottle. Not to sound too much like an ignoramus, but ordering wine in a French restaurant can be quite intimidating, with all of those French names that I just know I'll mispronounce. I think I need to take a French language class.
We found that the wine bar seemed especially conducive to good conversation, and I'm not sure why. I don't know how long it was until the food came out -- it didn't seem like we waited very long, maybe it was because I was enjoying the atmosphere and good conversation with Amy. My paté came with a very fresh side salad with a light but tasty vinaigrette. The paté was a country paté with a prune and armagnac filling. I wouldn't say it was worlds better than other patés I've had, but overall I was pretty satisfied with the dish I'd chickened out with. At first Amy wasn't so happy with her mixed green salad, but as she ate it, she grew increasingly fond of it.
Our second course came out not too long after we were done with our first. My steak, which I had ordered medium-rare, was more on the very rare side, but I didn't mind -- I'd rather my steak was undercooked than overcooked. The hangar steak was very lean and tender. On the side was a mixture of dijon mustard and very finely sliced onions that complimented the steak very well. Like the paté, the steak came with a salad on the side. It was a nice palate cleanser when I was done eating the steak and gave me a more satisfied feeling than if I'd eaten a side of mashed potatoes. I didn't get a chance to try Amy's onion tart, and quite honestly, I was really surprised that Amy ordered an onion tart. I mean, ever since she's been pregnant, she's hasn't been able to go near onions.
I wasn't especially hungry when we were done with our second course,but the desserts sounded so good that we couldn't help but order some. Amy went with the almond tarte and I, like last time, went with the pear tarte. I'm such a sucker for pears. I think the one of the reasons I've started gaining so much weight since Amy's been pregnant is because she won't share a dessert with me. Oh well, I'll lose the weight when I have to chase around a little 2-year-old all day. I didn't get a chance to try Amy's almond tarte, because I was too enthralled in my pear tarte. Do you get that I thought it was scrumptious? Amy wasn't too happy with her almond tarte and she wished she had ordered the chocolate tarte.
I'm not sure why I was expecting something else, but the check came to close to $120 -- not your average mid-week night out. What was meant to be a quick dinner out before hitting the grocery store ended up being an expensive 2-hour dinner -- and we never got to the grocery store. Mission un-accomplished.
1736 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Tue-Sun 11:30 am-2:30 pm
Tue-Thu 5-10 pm
Fri-Sat 5-10:30 pm
Sun 5-9:30 pm
Dress Code: Casual for the Wine Bar and business casual for the regular restaurant downstairs
Parking: none. Park at 34th and Wisconsin, there is usually parking down 34th St.
Reservations: Taken and recommended for the regular restaurant. Wine bar is first-come first-serve.
Smoking: Allowed in the wine bar
Nearest Metro: It's a very long walk from the nearest metro at Foggy Bottom. Take a cab or drive. The Pennsylvania Ave. bus line (bus numbers 30, 32, 34, 35, 36) will get you there too.
Amy's Bathroom Report: They are clean and kept respectable, plus you get to check out the wine cellar nearby.