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Feb 19, 2012 04:33 AM

Mon Ami Gabi (Bethesda) Review

I must say, I was expecting more. Having enjoyed French Bistros from Paris to many across the U.S. I have to to say that Mon Ami Gabi is more of a Corner Bakery kind of place than a serious restaurant. The food was quite bland, not very interesting and should have been hotter. However, the space is nice, bustling and the service very good. We arrived at 12:30 on a Saturday.

The particulars: After reading earlier reviews I was surprised that the bread was very ordinary. I had the jambalaya with two poached eggs. The dish was lukewarm and bland. Fortunately it was served with tabasco sauce. The eggs were nicely poached. My companion ordered the eggs florentine which was surprisingly served atop two English muffin halves. Again, the eggs were nicely poached. The accompanying Hollandaise Sauce was likewise bland and should have been hotter as well (for obvious reasons).

When the weather is warmer, it would be nice to go back, sit on the patio which is appealing, and have a glass of wine and some frites.

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  1. You might be disappointed with the frites. We've been to the Reston Mon Ami Gabi a few times. The first time, I ordered the steak & frites and (this was over 2 years ago) I remember there were a ton of frites but they weren't like the really good ones you get in a bistro. The steak was ok. I do remember being disappointed with the place and not wanting to return but we met friends for Sunday brunch a year ago. That time I ordered the French onion soup and it was delicious.

    1 Reply
    1. re: anova

      Thanks for the tip. We were looking at the French Onion Soup, but passed as that is a pretty spotty dish. So we will give it a try if we return.

    2. I've also been to the Reston location a few times --

      The food, while not absolutely spectacular, is very consistent and reasonably good. I normally get the steak frites bearnaise. The frites are plentiful, but certainly not what you'd find in a bistro. The french onion soup is very good, as is the warm brie cheese to start.

      Dessert is where I get really hung up. I really don't like their creme brulee, and I am a creme brulee fanatic. The base tends to just be too runny for me. I keep meaning to try one of the souffles to see if that is good, or the bananas foster crepe.

      1. Let's set expectations here - this isn't a neighborhood bistro - it's a national chain, that tries to emulate a neighborhood French Bistro.

        Honestly, the comparison to Corner Bakery is pretty apt, and that's an appropriate expectation level.

        5 Replies
        1. re: DanielK

          Agreed. It's a chain based out of Las Vegas. If the OP wants a French bistro, we can send you to some really great places in DC!

          1. re: katecm

            Katecm - recommendations would be appreciated. I am particularly interested in cassoulet, which usually seems difficult to find.

            1. re: Miata Girl

              Miata Girl: Many good choices in the District, but right now I would get thee to the new Mintwood Cafe in Adams Morgan, which is off to a great start. I didn't have the cassoulet, but it looked delicious and Todd Kliman (a reliable guide) vouches for it.

              1. re: Miata Girl

                Mintwood definitely looks great. Bistro D'Oc is much quieter, and pretty much always has cassoulet. Their duck confit is to die for. And if you want something more bustling, like Mon Ami Gabi, go for Bistro du Coin. Bistro Lepic, in Glover Park, is also lovely. I like dining in the upstairs wine area, where there are wine tastings on Tuesday.

          2. I'm okay with MAG for what it is. It's a good place to take the 75yo parents to lunch. They like it. They make a good bloody mary. And they have a nice wine/champagne cart on the weekends so a refill is never far away. The service is usually spot on. I can take the 10yo kid too, and he finds something to like. That is what it's there for.

            My problem is those fries. They're awful. They are cut real real small, real real thin, and then fried until there hard. They come out tasting like the french's (?) potato sticks you used to get in a can when you were a kid. Why do they do this. A normal slender fry, crisp outside and soft inside would be so much more enjoyable. They may serve you a ton of them, but I don't want any of them.

            1. Get the snails, bread, red wine. Avoid the rest.