CHARLOTTE GLASSER/THE HOYA
Among other delicacies at Bistrot du Coin, the peche melba is a delicious concoction of poached peach and ice cream.

4/5 stars

$$

Next time you’re in Dupont Circle and craving a good meal, stop by Bistrot du Coin on Connecticut Avenue. The classic French and Belgian food will hit the spot without breaking your budget. The intimate atmosphere of this local cafe is incredibly inviting, and even though the service is a little slow, it’s only because there are so many people enjoying a delicious meal in the same place.

It would be sinful to stop by Bistrot du Coin without trying one of its mussel dishes. There’s a variation for everyone regardless of whether you’re a mussel veteran or not: mussels in white wine sauce, mussels in cream sauce, mussels with pesto and even mussels in Thai sauce. We started with the moules Normandes. The Normandy-inspired dish included a bowl full of warm mussels in cream sauce with celery, leeks, potatoes, mushrooms and bacon. The mussels are priced respectively as either an appetizer ($11.50) or as an entree ($20.95). Whatever you decide, you can’t go wrong with the generous portions, the rich sauce, the tender vegetables or just shamelessly dipping the remaining contents of the breadbasket into the sauce.

Choosing an entree was a difficult task. Between the mini ravioli (with either gruyere and cream sauce or lobster filled), pan seared fish, scrumptious sandwiches or one of the many savory stews, I was in over my head. In the end, I opted for the tournedos poele, sauce aux poivres ($23.50). This filet is coated in peppercorn with a side of french fries. To say I was pleased would be an understatement. I asked for medium rare; I was served up a huge portion of still-pink steak. The french fries were thick, crispy, and warm. The fries also served as the perfect vessel for scraping all the pepper cream sauce off of the plate. This is also high praise coming from me as I never eat french fries. In my experience, fries just aren’t worth the calories because they are either overcooked, soggy or somehow a combination of the two. I’m pleased to announce that the french fries at Bistrot du Coin break the mold. It is unlikely that you’ll find other restaurants that serve a high quality steak for such a competitive a price.

Looking for a lighter meal? Try the tartine Parisienne ($7.95). This open-faced sandwich contains French ham, gruyere cheese and what I consider to be the best part of French food: bechamel sauce. The sauce was creamy and rich without drowning the entire sandwich. The bread had a satisfying crunch to it, a testament to the perfect sauce-to-bread sogginess ratio. The sandwich was accompanied by a nice little salad to round out the meal.

For those still capable of rational thought after these huge, delectable portions, Bistrot du Coin offers several amazing dessert options. Brioche and chestnut mousse both sounded heavenly, but I was unable to resist the allure of the peche melba ($8.95). I considered this a bit of a risk. Ordinarily, unless a dessert contains chocolate, I don’t see the point. In this case, though, the risk came with reward. The combination of poached peach with strawberry and vanilla ice cream, almonds and berry coulis was an excellent way to end the meal. The idea of so many fruit flavors all rolled together made me nervous at first – surely it would be far too sweet – but Bistrot de Coin’s trend of defying my expectations continued. I loved the whole dessert. There may even have been a bit of friendly competition for who got to eat the last bite, but I’m not telling.

In short, Bistrot de Coin offers high quality French cuisine for a competitive price. The ambience is cozy and crowded. The only drawback is the slightly inattentive service. Whatever they lacked in attention, however, they more than made up for in friendliness.
 

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