In recent weeks I’ve bought a vintage Tour de France print, watched Midnight in Paris (starring a horribly miscast Owen Wilson — does he ever change his hairstyle for a role?), seen the French film The Artist (excellent) and also Hugo, the beautiful and soulful Scorsese flick set in 1920s Paris.
So yeah, France is on the brain. I may not be jetting off to Paris any time soon, but a quick Metro ride to Bistro du Coin for dinner? That’s quite manageable for a Thursday evening.
What to eat at this popular French establishment in Dupont Circle? For my friend Alia, it was all about the moules frites. I needed more time to study the menu, I think to the chagrin of our server, a middle-aged man with a thick French accent and cool mustache. (Don’t know why I was surprised that our server would actually be French, but I was.)
Alia started with the cream of mushroom soup, which arrived in a giant bowl. It was so big she had to take half home. My appetizer was a small bowl of the moules Provencale, which you can barely make out here.
For a “small,” it was quite the generous helping, roughly 15-20 mussels? I’ve had better broth — it needed more wine and garlic — but the mussels themselves were grit-free and tender.
Alia’s mussels arrived with a serving of crispy, hot fries.
I ordered a small Bretonne, a gratin of buckwheat pasta, seafood and mushrooms in a lobster sauce.
One word: RICH. Boy am I glad I ordered the small. As much as I liked the dish, the large would have been too much. They would have had to turn me sideways to squeeze me through the doorway.
Alia and I had arrived early at 6, when the restaurant was only half full. French music twinkled in the background, and diner noise level was at a comfortable hum. At 8pm on the dot, the music changed over to… Michael Jackson. Suddenly we were rocking out to “Billie Jean” and “Beat It,” and we realized the restaurant and bar had completely filled up, with a line of hungry diners forming at the entrance.
So it all boils down to what kind of night you’re looking for. Do you want the serene, romantic French dinner? Come early. Do you prefer to dine to the tunes of the King of Pop in a packed house? Come after eight.
Bistro du Coin
1738 Connecticut Ave. NW