Will be in DC for meetings and we are looking for a good French restaurant. We will be staying near Dupont Circle but we are open to something that's a relative easy cab or metro ride. Quality of food is more important to us than the price.
Thanks in advance for your help and suggestions.
That is ridiculous. 1) Citronelle is not French. 2) Citronelle is not that good. 3) Citronelle is beyond affordable 4) Citronelle has many not so good tables, and if you are not known, you are likely to get one. 5) The attitude of the service at Citronelle can make for an unpleasant meal. And that review, mind you, is from someone, who is slightly known there and can afford it.
Across the street, however, is the most authentically french restaurant remaining in the city (not bistro/brasserie). It has probably some of the best food in the city. And it is easily the best "price performer" in the city. The waitstaff is a treat. And the only bad tables are in an "secondary" dining room up front, while the rest encircle a wonderfully warm and romantic 360* fireplace.
While I loath to mention it in public for fear I won't be able to get in, and at the risk of sounding Joe Hish, the answer to the OP is clearly La Chaumiere.
Marcel's to me is more like classic French cuisine than Citronelle. Although both are good, I actually prefer Marcel's if I am craving French.
Bistro Bis I have to say though does have some very good French food, as well. Their escargot is the best I have had, and they have wonderful entrees and brunch, as well.
Le Paradou has very good more modern French cuisine, it to me is also a little more French than Citronelle.
Citronelle has amazing technique but to me it is more a French chef using his knowledge of French cooking and pastry techniques to make wonderful modern French/American foods (fried chicken, etc). Central his Bistro is a little more French to me in that it serves what you would find in many French bistros in Paris, but it also has an American twist.
There certainly are also cheaper options, but if price is not an option I would go to Marcel's if price is a semi-factor I would go to Bistro Bis.
I haven't been to Citronelle but I second the other three recommendations as I've had excellent meals at all. I agree that Marcel's is classic french - and delicious. I like the small portions of a variety of very rich and flavorful foods there. But if you want a unique presentation of escargot (i.e. not the garlic butter sauce) definitely go to Bistro Bis. All in all, I think you would have a great meal at any of them.
I'll just agree with the advice you received. Citronelle is spectacular, but is really French technique on Modern American food. And beyond expensive.
Marcel's is amazing, classic French haute cuisine, and incredible service.
Bistro D'Oc is great for French bistro food.
French is one part of the DC restaurant scene that is pretty disappointing. Anyone posting about quality over price should not be pointed to Bistro d'Oc, which I think is average for DC.
Citronelle is my one suggestion. But if you are looking for traditional fare, you won't find it there either. It is 'Cuisine Inventif.' No French on the menu and probably none spoken by the waiter either. Once you have Cheese Soup (excellent, BTW) on the menu, I am not sure you qualify as a French restaurant, even under the Inventif category.
Anyway, here are the websites you can check out the menus yourself. The chef at Marcel's is Belgian, not French.
If you cannot get a reservation at Citronelle, you can still eat without a reservation in the lounge, albeit ordering from a limited (but wonderful) menu.
I like the bistro experience the best when eating French. Hands down the best of those is Montmartre in Eastern Market, right near the metro stop. Wonderful french country food, good wine, a cozy and warm atmosphere and no typically Gaelic hauteur you might experience sometimes at a formal french restaurant. And the price is right. A close 2nd would be Lavandou in Cleveland park. Same type of atmosphere, provencal food, and good service and good prices. c'est magnifique!