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Dec 8, 2003 07:40 PM

Missing French Bistro on M Street?

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I was wondering if someone could help me out with this. About 2-3 years ago, I dined at a French bistro on M Street. It reminds me of Bistro Francais, but I'm almost positive it was a different restaurant. I believe I read about it in the Washington Post (a Tom Sietsema review, perhaps?).

Well, I was wandering around Georgetown last week after a 2-year absence from the Washington area and I can't seem to find it. I kept walking past Bistro Francais but I'm sure that wasn't the restaurant. The bistro I'm thinking of had a long wait for those without reservations -- the entranceway was a long, narrow corridor that terminated at the maitre'd stand where you would put your name down for a table. A doorway to the right led to the bar area, and the door to the left led to the dining room. The bathroom was upstairs, and you had to walk to the back of the dining room to get to the stairwell -- past the display cases where the restaurant stored its desserts.

Does anyone know what the name of this restaurant is/was? Thanks!

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  1. Cafe La Rouche..its on one of the side streets off M Street.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Lauren

      Thanks for the reply, but I'm familiar with Cafe La Rouche (walked past it last weekend, actually) and the bistro I'm thinking of is larger and right on M Street itself.

    2. La Chaumiere?
      2813 M St NW
      Washington, DC 20007-3712

      2 Replies
      1. re: valert

        No, the lay-out isn't right. And Chaumiere hasn't remodeled in decades. Long waits for those without reservations sounds correct though.

        How about Chez Grand Mere?

        1. re: Pappy

          Chez Grandmere has been gone too long for it to be the one being searched for (it was where Miss Saigon is now) but it's the restaurant I miss most in DC (runner ups are the old Sichuan Garden on 19th St, and La Fonda on 17th Street). CGM was as close to a so-so real Paris bistro as we've ever had here--good solid but not by French standards great bistro food, excellent poulet roti with frites; steak and frites, veal marengo, profiteroles etc. By Washington standards therefore, very good indeed and serving a kind of food we can't really get here (Bistro Francais and Bistro au Coin don't even come close). It was furthermore warm and inviting, quiet, and you could have a four hour Friday lunch with cognacs and almost feel you were some where in the 5ieme. I miss it terribly.

      2. Funny you should mention this -- I had the exact same experence this past weekend. Went for a Saturday breakfast in Georgetown, and decided on the Bistro Francais. I remembered it just as you described, but did not recognize it at all. Our conclusion was that they had done some renovation, and given the glass front, had even been able to move the entrance.

        1. The layout you describe, particularly the stairwell in the back to get to the restrooms sounds *exactly* like Bistro Francais. Maybe it was that, but somehow you've convinced yourself it was another restaurant. It would be oddly coincidental if there were two French bistros on M Street with exactly the same layout! 8-)


          1. (I hope this doesn't post twice -- my first attempt seems to have disappeared into the ether.)

            Bistro Francais sounds exactly like what you have described, especially the stairwell in the back leading to the restrooms on the second floor. It would be oddly coincidental if two French bistros on M Street had exactly the same layout -- maybe it was Bistro Francais, but you've convinced yourself it was a different place.


            2 Replies
            1. re: Marra

              I would just like to add that Tom Sietsema also had a mini review of Bistro Francais 2 years ago in his 2001 dining guide. So it seems that most evidence leads to Bistro Francais being the restaurant you are looking for. They also recently changed their awning and sign.

              1. re: Marra

                Thanks to all -- I'm more and more convinced that it was indeed Bistro Francais, and perhaps they did re-model which would explain a lot. I do remember it was just a few doors down from the Starbucks as well. I'll be in Georgetown again this weekend, and will investigate further.