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Preview: Primrose

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It’s hard to imagine a space more pristine than Primrose, a brand new French wine bar and bistro in Brookland. Positioned on the corner in an up-and-coming neighborhood, the restaurant has floor-to-ceiling windows, that allow light to pour in and will open fully in the warm months, allowing for an indoor-outdoor dining experience.

When we arrived in the evening, the space was dark, cozy, and dimly lit in that sexy, romantic way French bistros have mastered. The décor is whimsical, playful, and feminine, a la my dream come true. There’s exposed brick, crown molding, and a beautiful ornate, tiled ceiling. In the center of the space lies a turquoise bar, accented by over-the-top and utterly perfect ostrich feather chandeliers.

The space was designed by Lauren Winter, of DC Design house Edit Lab, who worked on the restaurant with her husband, Sebastian Zutant, the former partner and beverage director at Red Hen and All Purpose. The food comes from Chef Nathan Beauchamp, who is behind the fare at Tiger Fork and Calico, two recent openings in Shaw that we absolutely love. Sebastian was on-site this evening—as he likely is most evenings—happily buzzing around as the restaurant had already developed some loyal fans in the week it had been open.

I was catching up with two of my dear friends, Emily and Sarah, on this cozy Sunday evening, and I knew that Primrose would be perfect for the occasion. We had a lot to life updates to cover, and we were also feeling celebratory, given the time of year and Sarah’s recent promotion, among other things.

With the help of Sebastian and our lovely waiter, Brandon, we chose a lovely bottle of French Beaujolais, and promptly decided we would be known as Bitches Who Beaujolais. Appropriately, the wait staff are dressed in the quintessential French striped navy-and-white tee, and no less than two informed us they’ve never been so happy to work somewhere. There’s an honest admiration and respect for Sebastian from his staff, and the enthusiasm was palpable.

Brandon all but sat down to join us—he was such a love that by the end of our meal there were hugs upon departure. Call me Brandon, let’s brunch.

Now, to the food, which is quintessential French fare, with steak frites, Coq a Vin, and other classic favorites on the concise but effective menu. The bread service is a traditional French baguette, made by a local French baker with a bakery by the same name.

We shared the rabbit rillete, which was sort of like a chicken salad—creamy and spreadable across the baguettes. We couldn’t get enough of the duck liver pate, served in a small mason jar topped with a cranberry compote.

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The cheese plate was divine, served on a long wooden cutting board with a custom blue-and-white floral china. It’s French cheese, with fresh French baguettes and Trickling Springs butter. Need I say more?

We shared everything, opting to order the steak frites, Coq a Vin, and a seasonal acorn squash special. The roasted acorn squash was drizzled with a creamy sauce and sprinkled with pumpkin seeds, and excellent for sharing.

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The steak was perfectly cooked, medium rare, with large, crispy, salty French fries. It’s also worth noting that the blue-and-white dishes are delightful and I’d like them in my kitchen.

Last but not least, the Coq a Vin was a classic iteration, available in portions for one and two.

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Primrose is certainly my favorite new restaurant in Washington—as every detail, from the décor to the service to the cuisine—was thoughtful and wonderful. Now, if only Lauren would decorate my apartment while I drink wine with Sebastian.

Primrose
3000 12th St. N.E.
Washington, D.C.

Having opened November 26, Primrose is open for dinner daily and will eventually launch brunch.

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