A deal of a meal at Ici Urban Bistro, hold the wine

Short on time? Watching your budget? Ici Urban Bistro in the Sofitel Lafayette Square comes to the rescue of discriminating diners with the 30 Minute Lunch: three different menus — Bistro, Delight and Daily Creation — consisting of four courses served all at once for $28.


(Courtesy Sofitel Washington)

Delight lives up to its billing. With a big white plate acting as a canvas, four smaller plates display a quartet of compositions. I begin with a bar of velvety peppers sandwiching caper-sparked mussels; forge on to a pretty salad of roasted beets with creamy goat cheese dressing; and continue with a bit of lean grilled buffalo dappled with parsley relish and served on a colorful succotash. Seducing me from the far left corner of the arrangement is a small parfait glass with grapefruit sorbet and orange segments dappled with a froth of yogurt.

Each dish is a few pleasing bites, art you can eat. The mini-feast is slimming, too, since the choices also appear on a separate De-Light menu, which assigns a mere 162 calories to the mussels and fewer than 300 calories to the buffalo.

Welcoming service in a chic space helps turn lunch into an event. 

The catch? Adding a glass of one of the featured red or white wines puts a dent in the deal. The pairings cost between $15 and $18. Ooh la ouch.

Ici Urban Bistro, 805 15th St. NW. 202-730-8800. 

Weaned on a beige buffet a la “Fargo” in Minnesota, Tom Sietsema is the food critic for The Washington Post. This is his second tour of duty at the Post. Sietsema got his first taste in the ‘80s, when he was hired by his predecessor to answer phones, write some, and test the bulk of the Food section’s recipes. That’s how he learned to clean squid, bake colonial cakes and distinguish between nutmeg and mace.
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