The Washington Post
Critic rating
Neighborhood: Palisades
Cuisine: Belgian, French
Price: $$ ($15-$24)
Sound check: 76 decibels (Must speak with raised voice)
Our Review

Some of my most memorable Belgian meals — trips to Brussels included — have originated from the kitchen of Claudio Pirollo, whose slip of a dining room in the Palisades routinely packs in neighbors and statesmen alike. (Bon appetit, John Kerry.) Fall and winter find me hankering for beef stew. It’s a dish the chef’s Italian mother learned to make as a maid for a Belgian family and a recipe her son flavors with flat-iron steak and dark beer — good to the last drop. A pot of steamed Blue Bay mussels alongside twice-fried potatoes never gets old, in part because the bivalves are available in five flavors. Lots of places do tuna tartare. Et Voila! forgoes the obvious with bass tartare, elegant with crisp sesame tuiles and dots of tomato-pink mayonnaise on the plate. Order duck breast and you get house-made duck sausage, too, arranged over a fan of asparagus and a classic orange sauce. I could easily order more Belgian frites for dessert, but familiarity has taught me to splurge on the warm apricot-pistachio tart or a proper crepes Suzette. Depending on how much personal space you need, the narrow restaurant comes across as cozy or claustrophobic. If you’re a group, reserve table No. 1, set in the back but with high stools that allow as many as a dozen of you to still see the scene.

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