Editors' pick

The Bistro at Restaurant Eve

Nouveau American
$$$$ ($25-$34)
Please note: The Bistro at Restaurant Eve is no longer a part of the Going Out Guide

Editorial Review

2012 Fall Dining Guide
By Tom Sietsema
Washington Post Magazine
Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012

The Tasting Room within Restaurant Eve is considered more exclusive, but this season, the Bistro is where I prefer to reserve when I want to experience the cooking of Cathal (silent ‘t,' please) Armstrong. With its skylights and small chandeliers, the bistro is as inviting as the rarer treat beyond it, and while every service member in the Old Town destination is polished, the team in the bistro appear noticeably more relaxed. Then there's the food. The Tasting Room requires you to commit to a minimum of five courses; the menu in the bistro is a la carte -- and wonderful. If you're looking for some of the best sweetbreads or falafel (yes, chickpea fritters), the bistro is where you'll find them. Armstrong takes flavors from around the world and combines them in fresh ways. That's a prompt to consider lush fluke sashimi served with “chili bomb" mayonnaise as an appetizer and a crisp-tender block of mahogany pork belly set off with kimchi-flavored watermelon radishes -- one of the best uses of pork belly I've ever had. Tripe? Trust me, you'll love the way the funky innards are combined with buckwheat pasta and soft peppers. Crisp branzino arranged with a teasing chanterelle relish and gravity-defying gnocchi show you're in the hands of a master chef, too. By now you should know you'll also be drinking well -- sommelier Todd Thrasher is a wizard with cocktails -- and the creations of a new pastry chef, Joshua Jarvis, have me lingering over a course that I can usually take or leave.

2010 Spring Dining Guide review

2010 Spring Dining Guide

By Tom Sietsema
Sunday, May 23, 2010

Can't score a reservation in the exclusive Tasting Room at Restaurant Eve in Alexandria? Book a table at its closest rival, the neighboring Bistro, instead. There, beneath a ceiling-size skylight, you'll find the same suave service and pedigreed ingredients as in the starrier space, but for less money. Dinner in the Bistro doesn't open with a flight of treats from the kitchen, as it does in the Tasting Room, but the warm, house-baked ciabatta and sweet Irish butter make for nice welcomes. So does a cocktail shaken or stirred by the establishment's creative sommelier, Todd Thrasher; vodka, grapefruit juice, bay leaves, sauvignon blanc and bitters light up one of several sublime sensations, the aptly coined Pleasantly Bitter Beginning. From my perch near a window, I can watch the cooks flit from kitchen to garden for fresh herbs and rhubarb. The servers, more polished than ever, charmingly describe the soft-shell crabs as procured "from just an hour away," the beef for the tartare as coming from "happy cows." Sound too precious? The proof is on chef Cathal Armstrong's plates: His minced raw beef, jolted with serrano chilies, is possibly the best I've had, and it comes with terrific rye bread, baked right there, for scooping it up. In another appetizer, seared squares of albacore tuna recline against one another like dominos on a neat row of sauteed baby kale. The garlicky greens and a frothed vinaigrette (made with smoked ham hocks) are perfect foils for the rich fish. Slightly more traditional than its sibling, the Bistro is nevertheless also the place to find sublime sweetbreads, (vegetarian) papri chaat as good as in any Indian restaurant, and a seafood stew made glorious with fish, mussels and prawns that taste as if each component had been cooked separately and carefully before being assembled in a bowl with lashings of aioli. The setting, with its yellow walls and paintings of green apples and purple eggplants, proves warmly luxurious. And the minor points make major statements: Purses are hung not on chairs but from handsome hooks attached to the edges of the tables. The Bistro's petite pink Birthday Cake . . . Just Because is a treat no matter what occasion brings you here, but it has competition now: a dreamy spin on a Butterfinger fashioned from dark chocolate and peanut butter mousse. Haute, haute, haute.