By Corinna Lothar
Twenty years ago, young French chef Bruno Fortin and his vivacious wife, Cecile, opened a small French restaurant in upper Georgetown. It was cozy, moderately priced, and offered well prepared traditional French dishes. Bistrot Lepic was an instant success.
Bruno and Cecile are no longer together; Bruno has extended his culinary embrace to turn the second floor into a wine bar, renaming the restaurant Bistrot Lepic & Wine Bar; and together with a partner, he opened La Piquette on Macomb Street in Cleveland Park.
Bistrot Lepic has been spruced up a bit and the dishes are more elegantly presented, but the little restaurant is as enticing as ever. The menu has been expanded, and while prices have increased since 1995, they are still moderate. Some of the old favorites remain on the menu: the onion tart is a delicious first course; the endive salad with Roquefort cheese is another staple, and it looks prettier in its current presentation. Snails in garlic butter and sauteed mushrooms hark to the past. Current appetizers include cured salmon, seared duck foie gras, a cheese plate, pig’s feet, and a delightful salad of julienned golden beets and apples.
Bistrot Lepic is a good place to enjoy such classics as kidneys in a mustard sauce and calves’ liver in a rich sherry sauce, although the liver at a recent dinner was overcooked and sliced a little too thick. Meat entrees vary from braised veal cheeks to grilled lamb, breast of Cornish hen in a curry sauce, and tender beef medallions. Fish dishes include pan seared rainbow trout, risotto with grilled shrimp, and scallops. The menu also includes several main course salads.
For lunch, a plat du jour (daily special) is offered for $20; a two-course meal for $25 and three courses for $30. The lunch menu is similar to the dinner menu with prices reduced by $3 to $4.
Desserts continue to be delicious: a chocolate “tart” (actually a glazed mini cake) served with a custard sauce is first rate. Creme brulee, floating island, and house-made sorbets are all good.
In short, Bistrot Lepic is better than ever.
Bistrot Lepic: 1736 Wisconsin Avenue NW, (202) 333-0111.
Hours: Lunch Monday to Friday, 11:30 am to 2:30 pm. Dinner Sunday and Monday, 5:30 pm to 9:30; Tuesday to Thursday, to 10 pm; Friday and Saturday, to 10:30 pm.
Prices: Appetizers $8 to $19; entrees $18 to $33; desserts $8 to 9.