Fried oysters with avocado mousse and saffron aioli at Bistro L'Hermitage. (Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post)


The following review appears in The Washington Post’s 2016 Spring Dining Guide.

Owner Youssef Eagle Essakl spent nearly 25 years working in some of Washington’s top restaurants, including Marcel’s by Robert Wiedmaier, experience that explains the warm reception at the door and the decorous attention once you’re seated at Bistro L’Hermitage. The look — roses on linens, cobblestone walls, slim beams overhead — suggests the French countryside. So does much of the cooking. A sure path to happiness is to ask for an order of escargots served with velvety mushrooms in a copper pan; segue to herbed roast chicken flanked with thick housemade fries; and linger over something sweet. Both the berry-beautiful creme brulee and meringue-capped lemon tart end dinner on a high. Generous as ever, the kitchen is less refined than I remember it. Sauces in particular need work, and salt is overused, most obviously in a clump of spinach atop a plate of trout and piped potatoes. But the drinks are poured as if you’re friends of the house, the accordion music sets a jolly tone, and every restaurant should have busboys as delightful as this bistro’s young emissaries.

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2 stars

→12724 Occoquan Rd., Woodbridge, Va. 703-499-9550.

Open: Lunch Thursday and Friday, dinner Tuesday through Saturday, brunch Saturday and Sunday.

Prices: Lunch entrees $14 to $22, dinner entrees $25 to $36, brunch entrees $12 to $24.

Sound check: 70 decibels / Conversation is easy.

Previously (2009): 2.5 stars