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Bistrot Lepic and Wine Bar – The Petite Retreat Rediscovered

Jordan Wright
April 2010

It was just after the first big snow, and everyone was struggling to navigate around the snow dunes created by the plows. I was slipping and sliding around the icy streets in Georgetown with plans to meet a friend at Bistrot Lepic for hearty French fare.

Bistrot Lepic - Georgetown's cozy French retreat - photo by Jordan Wright

Bistrot Lepic - Georgetown's cozy French retreat - photo by Jordan Wright

The restaurant has been offering a three-course prix fixe lunch for $20 to celebrate their 15th anniversary and the menu items were inviting. But as I scanned the menu I spied “Rognons de Veau”, veal kidneys with roasted potatoes and a Dijon mustard sauce, and I was on my way to French comfort food heaven.

My longing for this childhood dish, made by our beloved French cook we named “Nana”, has been as forceful and evocative as Proust’s reflections on madeleines, and in this cheery yellow-hued retreat I would recapture my memories. This restaurant has been a fixture in Georgetown for many years and I recall lunches with my mother, who wished to revisit its charms whenever she was in town.

Head Chef Simon Ndjiki-nya has kept all the bistro classics to warm the cockles of your Francophile heart. The Camaroon-born chef, who grew up in Paris from the age of five, has worked at Bistrot Lepic for eight years with a brief stint mid-way to cook with Gerard Pangaud, no stranger to Michelin stars.

Executive Chef at Bistrot Lepic, Simon Ndjiki-nya - photo by Jordan Wright

Executive Chef at Bistrot Lepic, Simon Ndjiki-nya - photo by Jordan Wright

An endearingly charming, but unfussy place with a Parisian sensibility, you will find all your favorites like roast lamb and ratatouille, calves’ liver Provencale-style and coquilles Saint-Jacques, tweaked ever so modernly by its ginger broccoli mousse accompaniment.

Desserts are everything you would expect when you’re dreaming up favorites like pear tarte, chocolate mousse and the ambrosial ile flottante, a feathery-light sweet egg dish floating on crème Anglaise.

Drift up the townhouse stairs to the wine bar where cheese is paired with wines…Roquefort from Aveyron with sauterne or port, a Tomme de Savoie with a light Burgundy, or perhaps, Montbriac with a glass of Cotes de Rhone. Small dishes are served here and the country pate is made in house with Armagnac. The upper level has comfortable sofas and chairs and is decorated like a private salon, intimate with an air of decadence. A floor to ceiling Toulouse-Lautrecesque mural places you in the turn-of the-century Moulin Rouge cabaret.

This precious bistrot is the sort of rare jewel that one finds less and less in France and almost never in the States. Keep it close to your heart.

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