Bistro Bistro

Bistro, French
$$$$ ($15-$24)

Editorial Review

Tom Sietsema wrote about Bistro Bistro for a July 2009 First Bite column.

Typically, I'm not a fan of TVs in restaurants. Yet the two screens behind the bar at Bistro Bistro get my full attention during lunch, since one of them is tuned in to Giada De Laurentiis whipping up some pasta on Food Network.

Watching the radiant Italian cook (and later a bubbly Paula Dean) is a welcome diversion from what's on my plate: a wimpy croque monsieur and a sad little salad that I'm washing back with a flat soda. Having dined at this new French restaurant twice now -- and having endured gray "orange" duck, listless mussels and a French onion soup whose pale cover of bread and cheese appears to have been warmed with a blow-dryer -- I know that the two-dimensional images flickering a few yards away from my perch are as close as I'll get to real food here.

Let there be no confusion. This restaurant, which splits its nearly 200 seats between two floors and is modestly attractive in shades of peach and lemon, is no relation to the establishment of the same name in Shirlington. As is true of a lot of new restaurants, there are no linens on the tables and nothing to cover the floor, which makes for a clattery lunch or dinner. It's a problem intensified by cheesy French background music and sometimes a chatty waiter who interjects himself at all the wrong times. (After introducing himself and a server-in-training standing beside him, the senior waiter tells me, "If anything goes wrong, blame him!" )

Owner Jamal Bouzid is no stranger to the business or to Dupont Circle. The Moroccan native counts the Italian-themed Odeon and Marrakesh Palace nearby as his restaurants, too. Bistro Bistro is his attempt to add a different accent to the neighborhood, which he says "needs another French restaurant."

But surely not of this caliber.

Bistro Bistro? Run! Run!

Entrees, $12.95-$21.95.

(July 22, 2009)