By Corinna Lothar
For decades, Listrani’s on MacArthur Boulevard in the Palisades was a popular neighborhood meeting place. Quite suddenly, it closed. Last September, Benoit Grenier, the owner of Bistro d’Oc downtown on 10th Street, replaced Listrani’s with Bistroquet, an informal French restaurant. Bernard Grenier, Benoit’s father, is the chef. The Thai accents on several dishes are due to the chef’s wife who comes from Thailand.
Bistroquet—which means little bistro—is an attractive restaurant, divided into two rooms, with the bar in the front room. White table cloths on well-spaced tables are covered with white butcher paper. The atmosphere is casual, the food is good, the service friendly, and conversation is easy.
Two of the restaurant’s signature dishes are a half roast chicken and a steak with “frites.” The chicken is delicious—crisp skin, tender meat redolent of herbs. It is served with French fried potatoes and creamed spinach, both excellent. The fries are particularly appealing—hot and crisp, served without ketchup. The chicken comes with a little pot of aioli sauce, which goes well with both the chicken and the potatoes. The hanger steak, accompanied similarly with the French fries and creamed spinach, is tender and cooked as ordered. The blue cheese sauce served with the steak, however, is disappointingly watery.
The regular menu, together with a carte du jour (daily menu), offers a wide range of dishes. At a recent dinner, for example, the daily menu included a duck flan and a sauté of Brussels sprouts with bits of bacon as appetizers. The flan was grainy, not silky smooth as a flan should be. The lobster sauce on which it was served was fine. The sprouts, tasty as they were, are really a side dish rather than an appetizer.
Happily, Bistroquet serves a variety of offal specialties: lamb brains, liver, tripe, kidneys. They are not all always available, but it is a pleasure to see them back on a French menu.
Other first courses are smoked trout, snails, pate, onion soup, and a large hors d’oeuvres plate. Among the main courses are chicken and shrimp curries, cassoulet, a sirloin pepper steak, a number of fish preparations, and Thai rice dishes.
The lunch menu offers sandwiches and salads in addition to several of the dinner dishes at somewhat reduced prices. There is also an interesting carry-out menu, which includes pizzas, sandwiches, Thai fried rice, beef bourguignon, and a veal blanquette.
Dinner prices, including a limited wine list, tend to be on the high side for a casual neighborhood bistro.
Bistroquet: 5100 MacArthur Boulevard, (202) 244-9511.
Hours: Open daily. Lunch Monday to Saturday, 11:30 am. to 2:30 pm. Dinner Monday to Thursday, 5:30 to 9:45 pm, Friday and Saturday, 5:30 to 10:15 p.m. Sunday, 10:30 am to 8:30 pm.
Prices: Starters $6 to $12 (lunch), $8.50 to $18 (dinner); entrees $13 to $15 (lunch), $19.50 to $32 (dinner).