Wild escargots de Bourgogne at Mon Ami Gabi in Bethesda. (Deb Lindsey /For The Washington Post)


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

Breezy waiters in long aprons, floors paved in tiny tiles, a warm baguette to launch a meal: Mon Ami Gabi doesn’t immediately identify itself as a chain restaurant. But then your food starts coming, and you immediately regret having booked dinner in Bethesda thinking it might taste anything like Paris. A shy chicken liver pâté needs every swipe of its violet mustard to keep you interested, and an inelegant endive salad with a wedge of blue cheese smacks of having been made yesterday. We’ll keep the escargots, though, earthy snails hiding beneath a hot carpet of pureed parsley. And so it goes with main courses. Crisp half-chicken shored up with a continent of potato puree, melting pearl onions and smoky bacon lives up to what the menu calls grand-mère-style. The plate is homey and generous. But an acrid bordelaise sauce does no favors for a damp piece of beef, one of the most dispiriting steak frites I’ve had in years. And a chokingly sweet apple tarte Tatin appears to have been reheated in a microwave, it’s that hot. Mon Ami Gabi’s owner is the Chicago-based Lettuce Entertain You. And I wish they would, with more consistency.

Previous: Matchbox | Next: Nazca Mochica (Best new restaurant — No. 9)

1 star

→7239 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda, Md. 301-654-1234. monamigabi.com.

Open: Lunch and dinner daily, brunch Saturday and Sunday.

Prices: Lunch entrees $11 to $25, dinner entrees $19 to $40, brunch entrees $10 to $25.

Sound check: 73 decibels / Must speak with raised voice.

Previously (2002): Unrated