Restaurant Week Returns

Several Capitol Hill Favorites Are Participating

Posted January 4, 2008 at 5:52pm

The holidays have come and gone and with them, the parties, receptions and other festivities. So as the temperature drops and the first few weeks of the year crawl by, what’s a Washingtonian to do for fun? Restaurant Week is one option.

From Jan. 14 to Jan. 20, many of the District’s finest eateries will offer a chance to try their fare for a fixed (and often much-reduced) price. Some 170 restaurants throughout the metropolitan area are participating by offering three-course lunches for $20.08 per person and dinners for $30.08.

The weeklong event first came to the District after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as part of an effort to get people to start going out again.

“It was so successful that we decided to do it twice a year,” said Lynne Breaux, president of Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington. “I call it the cult of Restaurant Week. People just love it, they have a great time.”

Luckily for Hill staffers, a few choice restaurants participating in the event are just a stone’s throw away from the Dome.

The Monocle

The Monocle, a Capitol Hill institution that opened in 1960, will invite locals to try a host of dishes including steak, pasta and fish. Unlike many of the restaurants participating, the Monocle includes wine in the prix-fixe menu. Patrons are able to substitute a 3 oz. tasting of their favorite spirit for a dessert.

“We like to give [customers] choices, we don’t try to find the cheapest item on the menu and use that as the choice,” manager Nick Selimos said. “For the price, we like to offer something that will satisfy the customer.”

Customers will be able to take their pick of any appetizer, soup or side salad on the menu before choosing from four entrees.

“[Restaurant Week] is a good thing,” Selimos said. “It exposes new customers to the restaurant.”

The Monocle is located at 107 D St. NE; 202-546-4488.

Belga Cafe

For a taste of Belgian cuisine, head to Belga Cafe on Barracks Row. The restaurant’s chef, Bart M. Vandaele, cooks up everything from tomato soup to crème brulée, and the menu features an extensive wine list. There also are more than 40 beers available, with seven on tap.

The prix-fixe menu for Restaurant Week does not include the cost of beer or wine, but it does suggest pairings for each item. For instance, the lunch menu offers mussels, asparagus, bacon, celery and cream served with Belgian fries and mayonnaise. It suggests customers selecting that dish indulge in a pint of Rodenbach ale, which is served on tap at the eatery.

Belga Cafe is at 514 Eighth St. SE; 202-544-0100.

Bistro Bis

If French food en route to the Red Line sounds enticing, Bistro Bis is the place to stop. Chef R.J. Cooper, winner of a 2007 James Beard Foundation Award for culinary excellence, has prepared an extensive sample menu (available at bistrobis.com) for Restaurant Week.

The bistro’s cuisine has an elegant flare. Featured appetizers include Paté de Campagne and Endive Salade Chardenoux, made with a crisp Belgian endive with caramelized pears, walnuts, blue cheese and walnut vinaigrette. The Restaurant Week menu offers more than the traditional three options for each course; some of the bistro’s more expensive dishes are on the menu, but with a surcharge of $2 or $3.

Bistro Bis is located at 15 E St. NW; 202-661-2700.

In addition to the restaurants featured here, Charlie Palmer, Sonoma, America and B. Smith’s are all participating in the week. To make reservations or see their menus, visit opentable.com.