A note from the Bitches: this restaurant is now closed.
Bistro La Bonne on U Street has been open for just over a year; it replaced the beloved Axis Bar. Both are from the same management, but Bistro La Bonne features the great beer selection of Axis with the added bonus of well done and affordable French food. And a killer brunch.
I’m Catherine, also known as U Street Girl, friend of the Bitches, lover of food and brunches, and a U Street-area blogger. The Bitches and I stopped by Bistro La Bonne to check out their brunch one cool Saturday morning a few weeks ago.
As Becca noted, it’s not a classic French place unless a crazy Frenchman welcomes you inside. Cue the conversation:
“Bonjour, madame. Comment allez-vous?”
“Ah, oui. Tres bien.”
And then he rattles on in French, to which her five years of French classes answers, “Yeah. I don’t speak that much French.” And then we’re shuffled to a table.
Bistro La Bonne is like a loft. There’s the ground floor, and then a strange half second floor that overlooks the main dining room. If you’re lucky enough to have to sit there, the entire rest of the restaurant will hear your every word of conversation, and every fork clink on the plate.
Speaking of noise, the music was bizarre that Saturday morning we visited. First it was high-pitched elevator tunes. Then, weird electronica. Then we had hip-hop that made me feel like we were in the club at noon on a Saturday. Then, simply, a skipping CD, which the restaurants staff failed to notice. That wasn’t very pleasant.
Overall, service was very attentive; our server was always there to help—with a French accent, of course.
But let’s get to the real deal: the food. We ordered a bunch of plates: the salade Nicoise, the quiche Lorraine, the French toast, Daniel’s Benedict (named after the chef), and, of course, some frites. Check out the full menu online.
The salade Nicoise was topped with tuna and anchovies. “I’m not a big anchovy fan, and the tuna wasn’t that tasty,” said Becca. “In fact, the entire salad was a bit hard to eat. Massive mesclun leaves, green beans, boiled egg, cucumber, potato, olive, and bell pepper served with smoked tuna and marinated anchovy.” However I had a bite or two and found it pretty pleasant.
Becca found her quiche Lorraine was the perfect size, with a hefty pile of greens on the side. Loaded with delicious cheese, and with a touch of bacon throughout, it was fluffy and delicious.
Cori Sue said she had dinner there about a month ago—Moules Frites—and “it was delicious.” Brunch was also delicious. The menu prices are super affordable—better than most places in D.C. Cori Sue’s French toast, priced at less than $10, came with a huge dollop of whipped cream, lots of fresh berries—strawberries, blueberries and blackberries—and a delicious out-of-the-ordinary syrup with hints of cinnamon.
Daniel’s Benedict came with crab, spinach, and some of the best hollandaise sauce I’ve ever had. The serving was huge, and while I certainly wanted to finish it all, I couldn’t. I didn’t quite taste the crab, but given everything was so tasty, it wasn’t a big deal. The only downside of this plate was it is a bit heavy for brunch.
Becca commented that the frites weren’t that great. “By the time we got to them they were cold and a bit soggy. Also, not any adequate dipping sauces.” But still, yum French fries – I’ve certainly had worse. These Bitches are harsh on their brunches.
Bistro La Bonne also offers $3 mimosas, bellinis, and bloody Marys. We didn’t imbibe so we can’t comment on the quality, but the prices are certainly affordable, much like everything available for brunch.
We also liked the diversity of the menu. It’s great that, in addition to all the brunch options – and French options – they also offer a few dinner plates, for the late bruncher. If you do so desire, you could get boeuf bourguignon!
The Bitches and U Street Girl say: B+. The food is tasty as well as affordable, service solid – but the ambiance and a few dishes could use some work.
Bistro La Bonne
1340 U Street, Northwest
Washington, DC 20009