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Dec 11, 2009 07:21 PM

Le Paradou Gone - A Lament [DC]

Well, I guess that it had to happen. My favorite French restaurant in DC, Le Paradou, is now gone. Maybe it's a sign of the times, or something else.

We get to DC maybe 3-4 times per year, depending on what healthcare issue is on the table. Over the years, I'd dined there maybe 10 times. Each experience was great to excellent. For the first half-dozen times, I dined alone, as my wife had meetings and dinners with various "mover-n-shakers." On the first trip there, that she was able to join me, the entire staff lined up to greet her. The server, the sommelier and the chef all came out to meet my wife! Each did a wonderful job that night, and for the next several visits. She'd heard me rave about Le Paradou so many times, that she was excited to finally make it there. After that first visit, she became convinced that this would be her favorite French restaurant in DC (actually, her favorite restaurant in DC), and we dined there on every trip. Sometimes, we'd have guests, and sometimes we'd have an intimate dinner, just the two of us. All very good.

I've done reviews of many visits, both with my wife, and solo. Now, they are gone.

We did a couple of other favorites, but none seemed to be on their game. Maybe it was the season, or the weather - or my sense of loss.

It did seem that a few more Morton's had opened, since we were last there. Maybe that is what the culinary landscape is coming to?

Just a lament for a wonderful restaurant. I hope that some chef can step up, and fill those shoes. Le Paradou - RIP.


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  1. Yes they are missed. My husband and I enjoyed many a meal at what was also our favorite French restaurant in town. Luckily we were able to go in for one last farewell meal in April just before they closed.

    Just FYI - Yannick Cam has a more casual French restaurant, Bistro Provence, in Betheseda. I think it already opened; Betheseda's not really in my dining radius. We now go to Restaurant Eve in instances where we would have gone to Le Paradou. Not French, but we feel the food, wine, service, and mood are appropriate.

    9 Replies
    1. re: cookie44

      Interesting about the Bethesda place, I would be interested in any info on it. Supposedly will be less expensive than Paradou, sounds like a potentially great alternative to mediocre casual French places like Gabi.

      1. re: a1234

        I've never been so I can't help with any details, just remember it being mentioned on the Post food chats and a few other random places. Apparently he had been looking at two locations, Bethesda and Centreville (or thereabouts). I live in Centreville; I lost!

        1. re: a1234

          He did that exact same thing before Le Paradou. It was called Bistro Provence and it was in a litte row house space on 18th Street just north of M on the east side. It was excellent, but not as cheap as it should have been. I predict it will be a welcomed addition to Bethesda which has remarkably few decent restaurants. Persimmon is okay. But Grapeseed and Redwood are lamentable.

        2. re: cookie44


          That is good news to me. We are normally in downtown, or Georgetown, and often fly in, meet and then fly out, with little time to explore outside of Washington, DC proper. Still have not made it to the Inn at Little Washington, though we've tried for 15 years - never enough time!

          I have not checked out Restaurant Eve, but will, based on a rec. from someone who enjoyed Le Paradou. Thank you for that tip. Depending on how healthcare issues go, we might be back sooner, rather than later. Who knows?

          Greatly appreciated, and if I had known of the closure, we'd have flown to the UK out of IAD, instead of LAX, and dined there for one last time. Swan-songs are always sad, but can give one a sense of closure.


          1. re: Bill Hunt

            Bill, It is not quite as high-end as LP, and it is in Georgetown, and I don't like to mention it on this board, but I would recommend that you try La Chaumiere in Georgetown. It is really much more country french than bistro cooking and it is quite good. You will find it is almost like a private club. Almost all of the clientel are local G-twon society, and virtually everyone is on a first name basis with the owners. I think you would like it. Not great for entertaining though as tables for more than 4 are scarce.

            I have also heard wonderful things about Plume (back to high end here) in the Jefferson Hotel on 16th street. My guess is that it won't have staying power though. I have seen hotels re-open after a major remodeling wiht much fanfare, only to lose their celebrated chef a year later and revert back to their old ways./

            1. re: Pappy

              Now that is one that we've not found - yet. We do a great deal of walking about Georgetown, depending on where we're staying. Unless the weather is pure cr_p, I try to walk almost everywhere, just like in London and San Francsco.

              I'll check it out and post back. Sounds great.

              As for the entertaining, we're usually the guests, so our hosts get to pick. Then, if we have any free evenings, WE get to pick and have only 1 - 2 guests. Thanks for the notation though.

              Over the last three decades, we've tried most of the newer, high-end restaurants in the near DC-Metro area, and have only really loved, but a few. While we've had some good meals in the recent past, only Citronelle (and the lamented LP) are/were at the top of our list. Prior to a trip, I hang out here, and at some other sites, to see what is new and really good - not just press puffery. Most fall down the list pretty quickly. That is why I was so very sad in this case. I classed LP as "great," and it stood out from a sea of "good." Many of the "hot spots," have left me wondering what the fuss was all about, even with famous chef's behind them. Even Vidalia has had some slip-ups recently. Many of the rest were cases of "the emperor's new clothes... "

              Thanks, and we'll definitely look into La Chaumiere (loved a restaurant of the same name, well North of Denver years ago), and Plume.



              1. re: Bill Hunt

                I think you will find the wine list at Plume to be interesting, if very expensive. I'd also recommend you try Palena (the back room, not the Cafe) for a more formal, excellent meal. Of course, Komi is one you should try, but reservations have to be made weeks in advance, and you are lucky to get one at that.

                1. re: dinwiddie


                  I read your Hawaii posts, and I feel I have a pretty good handle on what you like. And Le Paradou was my favorite too.

                  You've got to find a way to go up to Frederick and eat at Volt. You can also have a memorable meal in the suburbs here at 2941, and in the district at Marcels.

                  1. re: mnadel

                    I am a huge fan of Yannick Cam but I was not a fan of Paradou. I can understand that at its best it was truly superb and, on a good night, challenged for D. C.'s best as he did at Pavilion (but I must also note that he was overshadowed by Jean Louis). When he was on Connecticut Avenue, when he was in Great Falls, VA there were dishes that were truly superb. There was also a style that allowed, no, necessitated that anyone dining there left feeling truly special. Yannick and his staff in both restaurants were especially good at this.

                    But they were not consistent.

                    I was at Le Paradou twice. Both times it was extremely expensive. (Not by say, Robuchon in Vegas' standards, but it was up there.) Some of his dishes were truly superb. Others were overpriced and bloated misses.

                    I mentioned Jean Louis. Perhaps D. C.'s greatest chef. Certainly, our most imaginative, most innovative. Yannick was more traditional but genuinely excellent at what he did. Still, Jean Louis lives on almost two decades after closing as this city's best restaurant ever. I don't think the same will be said for Le Paradou. (What did you think of Maestro or Laboratorio?)

                    But there is creativity here that is worth your seeking out: Komi, Enzo's Chef's Table at Teatro Goldoni (several dishes are inspired by Combal O near Turin), a trip to Frederick, MD for Table 21 at Volt and, of course the overall experience of MiniBar. If you are truly lucky, on a night when Michel Richard is in the kitchen, Citronelle is as good as there is west of the Atlantic. But you have noted this. It is also rare when he is there.

                    I should also mention here that I know you are based in Phoenix. Last Saturday I was at Osteria Mozza. I sat at the mozza bar with Nancy Silverton a few feet away. Awesome bread, the best pizza crust I have ever had and several truly superb pastas (including the ravioli with ricotta and egg cooked inside in a sauce of butter, sage and nutmeg). But our entrees and our desserts were disappointing. This was my second visit and I felt that Roberto at Laboratio was more consistent and, overall, better.

                    Roberto will be back in February yet Fabio and Yannick are both gone. Meanwhile, I would take a serious look at Enzo on your return visit (ONLY the chef's table) and Komi (reserve 30 days to the minute in advance). I also would not discount CityZen which can be brilliant.

                    I think Washington has just moved on from a great chef, Yannick, in a different direction.