Another direction for U Street Corridor gains a generous French bistro

By Tom Sietsema
Sunday, May 30, 2010



Bistro La Bonne

1340 U St. NW. 202-758-3413.

Open: Lunch Tuesday through Friday 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; dinner daily 5 p.m. to midnight; brunch Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Major credit cards accepted.

Metro: U Street/Cardozo.

Prices: Appetizers $6.50-$12.95, entrees $14.95-$23.95.

Sound check: 92 decibels/Extremely loud

Chef Daniel Labonne serves French food in portions that bring to mind Thanksgiving. Here's a tip: Go with an appetite (or anticipate a doggie bag) if you visit his eponymous new restaurant on U Street NW.

Stick earplugs in your pocket or purse, too. Whether upstairs or down, the noise level rivals that of a NASCAR race.

Now that I've dispensed with the nits about noise and portions (I try to follow Miss Piggy's advice: Never eat anything bigger than your head), allow me to share some of the pleasures of the place.

One of them is an airy raft of puff pastry with a well of sweet shredded onions and kalamata olives. Nearly big enough to qualify as an entree, the barge -- er, appetizer -- is beautifully coiffed with silvery marinated anchovies on top and a mustard vinaigrette on the plate. Steak frites always seduce me, too. Labonne partners the inexpensive but tasty cut known as hanger steak with a catcher's mitt of french fries. They look delicious, and they are; I'm tempted to pluck them off their plate even before the server has had a chance to set it down. The only reason I don't is because I'm competing with my companions' fingers. Plus, if I leave them where they are for a bit, the fries soak up the juices of the beef and its red wine sauce. Ketchup need not apply.

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