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Steak Frites -- DC

I've got a friend who's nostalic for the steak frites she used to eat as a student in Paris -- she keeps bringing it up, wistfully breathing "ah, bearnaise sauce." She's got a reason for a celebratory dinner or lunch coming up, so I thought I'd ask you all where you'd suggest I might take her to satisfy this craving. Note that we're (supposed to be) on tight budgets, and I'm not asking for the fanciest or most expensive, necessarily, or anything particularly formal -- though I'm willing to splurge a little. I believe Les Halles used to be the place to go for this kind of thing, but that its current reputation isn't so good -- is that right? I'll keep checking menus, myself, but meanwhile hoped to get some of that wonderful and informed CH opinion. Thanks!!

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  1. I had a perfectly good Steak Frites at Bistro D'Oc.

    1 Reply
    1. re: dpan

      I 2nd this suggestion. The steak frites at Bistro D'Oc is delicious...as well as more or less everything else on the menu. The steak is a hanger steak...very tender and cooked perfectly. And the fries are good as well...crisp and not oily at all.

      1. I like the steak frites at the bar at Corduroy. It is not served with bernaise sauce though. I used to like Bistrot du Coin, but have not been impressed on recent visits.

        1. Lavandou in cleveland park does a pretty decent job and monday night they offer free corkage, so you can byob. You can go to cleveland park wine store, get some wine then go to lavandou and get the hangar with fries for $19.

          1. On a tight budget why not Les Halles? As I remember the steak frites were very good (they should be it is their signature dish) and they have very reasonable prices for DC. I think they even have a price fix menu if you go early enough that isn't a bad deal either. I haven't had them at Bistro D'Oc, but I have had other things that were really good.

            2 Replies
            1. re: ktmoomau

              I agree with this assessment. I think their steak frites also comes some nice, lightly-dressed greens, too. Very good deal. You can also get the Bearnaise sauce on the side, I believe.

              My two favorite places for steak frites are not in DC: Le Mannequin Pis in Olney and Cafe De Paris in Columbia.

              1. re: debit

                Hey! Quiet about Cafe de Paris! We can't have everybody going there. SHHHHH!

            2. Overwood Grill in Old Town does a decent hangar steak. $18.95. The real winner though is the lunch skirt steak for $12; big beefy flavor.

              220 N Lee St, Alexandria, VA 22314

              1. Mon Ami Gabi - it's a chain but it's good. It's also on the casual side.


                1. You might want to try Bristro Francais in Georgetown. They have a 3-course meal available (at somewhat off-times: before 7 pm or after 10:30 pm) for $22, which includes a glass of wine, appetizer, entree, and dessert. This should definitely be in budget. Not 100% sure whether they have steak frites but it's worth calling to find out. (They always have a ton of specials not listed on their website: www.bistrofrancaisdc.com


                  Bistro Francais
                  3124-28 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20007

                  1. Thanks everyone, this is really helpful! You've reminded me of places I hadn't thought of myself, which is great, along with the good advice. I actually think we may have to try a few of these :) For now, I'm leaning toward places that have the most French vibe...

                    ....And I think the bearnaise sauce may be important. So, just wondering -- do you know if the shallot sauce at Lavandou is like a bearnaise? (Can you tell how clueless I am about this?) Bistrot d'Oc was the first place I had thought of, but the hanger steak does not seem to come with bearnaise, though there is a NY strip with bearnaise, only on the lunch menu. Anybody recommend that or have any insight?

                    Since nobody's saying anything bad about Les Halles, I'm tempted to put that at the top of the list, since it is supposed to be known for this very thing -- and thanks debit for the bearnaise on the side suggestion.

                    I'll keep taking recommendations, if anybody has them. And I'll definitely make a note of all of them, since this can be an ongoing project for us -- thanks!!

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: mselectra

                      I prefer Les Halles over the other places in DC - and I've been to a few of them. Prices are reasonable, the service is good and the food is consistent. I live in Baltimore and dine there at least once a month.

                      1. re: mselectra

                        You can sub the shallot sauce (red wine, demi, shallot, based) for bernaise, they are acomodating. All the options mentioned above are good, there are no absolutes when talking about food. I only go to lavandou b/c its next to my apartment, but the onglet and frites are very good and you can't beat byob.

                        1. re: mselectra

                          In terms of bernaise sauce, I'm sure you can ask for it on the side at Bistro D'Oc. The steak is so delicious there that its worth calling to find out if you can get a sauce with it.

                          I personally enjoy eating the steak without anything and then dipping the fries in the steak's natural juices. Even when I get a bernaise sauce at Bistro du Coin, I just use it for my fries.

                          1. re: mselectra

                            Bearnaise sauce traditionally contains shallots, but its signature flavor is tarragon. It is also made with wine and/or vinegar. Then it is folded into a classic hollandaise sauce which contains egg yolks, lemon or wine vinegar, butter, and sometimes cream.

                            But shallot sauce can also made by deglazing the pan with shallots and wine, then reducing the wine, then swirling in cold butter. There might be an herb such as rosemary, sage or thyme.

                            So, if your friend really has a taste for Bearnaise, she will probably want the real thing, because it's all about the tarragon (and shallots) and egg yolkiness.

                          2. It makes me a little sad when people don't report back after getting suggestions here --

                            So I did want to report that I finally had the chance to take my friend out for her celebration dinner of steak frites. We went to Bistro d'Oc and had a really wonderful time. She got bearnaise sauce on the side with her steak, and I don't know when I last saw someone in such ecstasy over food. This woman loves bearnaise sauce, it was a joy to behold. (Apparently she's been satisfying her craving with the Trader Joe's version, not exactly the same thing.)

                            Enjoyed all the food, and especially the friendly and relaxed service and atmosphere that really allowed us to appreciate it.

                            Thanks to you all for your advice.