A new name has appeared alongside the small handful of late-night restaurants open after shows in downtown Washington D.C. It used to be that the Old Ebbitt Grill and the Kramerbooks restaurant were the only places folks knew of to bathe in the afterglow of a great show or concert downtown. Lately that has changed, with the inclusion of the Bistrot du Coin in a recent survey of the three “Best Late Night Restaurants” in a prominent regional monthly magazine.
Curses! This well-kept secret that I’ve exploited for years is now out there for everyone to crowd into. Seriously, though, I wouldn’t want to either deny the fame to Yannix Felix and Michel Verdon, who opened this unique restaurant on Memorial Day 2000, or deny a wider public the great surprises that they’re in store for there.
Walking into Bistrot du Coin, a few blocks north of DuPont Circle on Connecticut Avenue, might remind one of a similar feel to the famous Pastis restaurant in the meat packing district of Manhattan. Like Pastis, the Bistrot du Coin has captured that signature French bistro atmosphere, with tan-colored walls, linoleum floors, lousy acoustics, unpretentious tables and chairs, a long bar to the side, and lots of old photographs and memorabilia stuck everywhere.
Also like Pastis, the Bistrot du Coin is very busy very late. In New York, Pastis was overflowing with celebrities and socialites at midnight on a Monday. The Bistro du Coin stays open to 1 a.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, and to 11 p.m. the other nights.
But it’s not just that it’s open at the right times for theatre-goers and night owls. It’s not just the special European atmosphere. It’s all about the food and wine.
Mussels lovers, do you know you can choose from 10 different preparations of quality “moules” here? Each comes in two sizes, one a generous portion and the other humongous portion, at $8.25 or $14.95. They come, of course, with plenty of French bread to soak up whichever wine or cream-based sauce you’ve chosen.
Then there is a saffron mussels soup, along with, of course, French onion and vegetable and other soups, and an array of salads that include one with a smoked duck breast and gizzards and the classic warm goat cheese with walnuts.
There are four varieties of open-faced sandwiches and a wide selection of pates, confit and foie gras. There are six types of stews, including rabbit, beef tripe, lamb and veal. There is a half oven-roasted chicken on the menu, and a pan-seared maple leaf duck breast.
Monkfish, salmon and a fish of the day constitute the “poisson” offerings, and the meats include Steak Tartare replete with raw ground beef, egg yoke and condiments. Their rib eye steak is excellent. Naturally there are escargot with garlic butter, and spicy lamb and beef sausages with a couscous salad.
There is always a dessert du jour and crème broulee and rum pound cake with bananas amongst the desserts. Apple tarts, custard tarts with pears and homemade chocolate mousse go along with poached pears and poached peach ice cream creations and a classic, giant banana split. Needless to say, this extensive dessert section of the menu is designed to meet the lighter, late-night tastes of the after-show crowds.
A great wine list and a full bar, as well as a range of coffee options make the restaurant a full-service delight.
Bistrot du Coin
1738 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20009
Hours: Sun.-Wed. 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Thurs.-Sat. 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Open 364 days a year (all but Labor Day)