Like I kind of said in the last post, it's all about the company that makes an outing a special event. Last year I had the possibility of eating solo at The French Laundry. For sure that would have been an incredible meal but I would have enjoyed it alone and that's not much fun at all.
Seems that this month is the month of birthdays and last Saturday night found a large group of friends (some I knew, others I didn't) jammed into the upstairs dining area at Washington D.C.'s Bistrot du Coin. Evidently, the Bistrot is jammed all week long. It's on the 1700 block of Connecticut, just above DuPont Circle, which means that it's a serious pain in the ass for a suburban living, automobile-driving sucker like myself. The weekend before we were eating at my favorite joint, Brasserie Les Halles when Michelle suggested trying their (hers and Christian's) favorite: du Coin. And there we were.
Bistrot du Coin is a bit of a departure from Les Halles. It's brighter, louder and definitely more packed than Les Halles, which is a minus in my book. You can smoke at the bar but there's no tables for smoking (advantage: Les Halles) and while they do have Foie Gras (advantage: Bistrot) and a wide variety of mussels (advantage: Bistrot), it's just not the same, nor is it a replacement for me (advantage: Les Halles).
But let's talk about the food. Simply, it's deelish! While it is a bit disappionting to see the bread precut, placed in baskets and jammed into a bread pantry for ease of use, the butter was soft when it came to the table and that's a lovely thing. It amazes me how many nice restaurants we go to and the butter is hard as a rock. Then you try cutting and spreading it and it's just this clumpy mess that doesn't mix well with the palate. I'm hoping that this was intentional on the part of du Coin and not just happenstance.
Without a doubt, the highlight of the meal (other than the girl, details to follow) was the foie gras. Perfect thickness to show off the delicate nature of the liver, it was just heavenly. Paired with some greens and a small glass of sauternes and it's waaay better than Les Halles foie.
The onglet and shallots was interesting. Too much black pepper on the meat for my tastes but it was cooked just right and the roasted shallots made for a tantalizing accompaniment. But not as tantalizing as my dinner companion, Vanessa - the Chinese girl from L.A. pursuing an MBA who strangely reminds me of a snowflake-y, Jennifer Tilly-esque looking sensation, eating mussels in a white wine sauce and sharing it with those around her.
It's true, I try to be an objective observer but I'm a flawed human who succumbs to his weaknesses: food and women. I can no longer offer an objective opinion on whether or not the mussels were truly good. Perhaps they were cooked just right, with the perfect amount of wine, butter, veggies and whatever else goes into that pot, or perhaps they were just being shared by the sensation to my left. Personally, I think it was the latter.
BTW, the mussels were smashing.