May 8, 2011

My Continued Quest for French Cuisine Near Home

Some of my readers may have noticed when I began writing this blog I was vegetarian and all opinions of meat, poultry, or seafood dishes were attributed to my husband Jonathan or other dining companions; and more recently I have also been commenting on seafood. This is because I chose to change my diet after returning from Europe. I could write a great deal about why I decided to do this, but that is not the point of this blog. This blog is where I share my experiences eating and traveling. So, going forward you will continue to see me sharing my experiences and impressions of vegetarian food, seafood, and, of course, wine and chocolate. (For meat and poultry I will still be relaying on the opinions of my husband and dining companions.)

Now, that said, I will get on to the topic of this blog - Montmartre, a French restaurant in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, DC...

It has been almost 6 months since we returned from traveling in England and France. The trip motivated Jonathan to watch cooking shows and read about French cooking techniques; it prompted me to create a list of French restaurants in the District and go on a quest to determine my favorite. In a past blog post I shared my experiences at Patisserie Poupon, Bistrot la Bonne, and Bistrot du Coin, now it is time for me to talk about my continued quest.

Montmartre is a romantic French restaurant and cafe with tables on a sidewalk patio, a casual indoor dining room, and a small open kitchen. The menu is classic and elegant (salads, mussels, snails, rabbit, cassoulet, and seafood) and is accompanied by an excellent wine list.

It was a Friday evening when we decided to go to Montmartre. Upon arriving at the restaurant we were promptly seated at a high table near the back of the dining room. From this vantage point we were able to see the whole dining room and the open kitchen. Earlier in the evening Jonathan had reviewed the menu online, I however needed a few minutes to peruse my options before deciding what to order. While he waited for me to decide what I wanted to order he selected and ordered a bottle of Burgundy to share. To start we ordered escargot and crispy pig's feet. (We shared the former and Jonathan enjoyed the later on his own.) For a main course I ordered seafood stew and Jonathan selected the braised pork shank.

Dinner was unrushed - like at a neighborhood bistrot in France. I have blogged before about how hurried the waiter service in the United States is versus in Europe. When having dinner out I appreciate being given the time to relax, talk to my dining companions, and enjoy my food and wine. The atmosphere at Montmartre is definitely conducive to leisurely dining and the service was attentive without being overbearing.

But, enough about the atmosphere, time to discuss the main attraction - the food and wine. This was my first time eating escargot so I have no reference, good, bad, or indifferent. However, I enjoyed the snails very much. (And, yes, I understand I ate little snails.) They were were well seasoned and served with very good bread. Jonathan enjoyed them too, but was more interested in focusing on his pork-centric dish.

Next the waiter brought our main courses to the table. My fish stew had a delicious cream and fennel broth with a variety of different types of seafood (white fish, mussels, clams, and shrimp). It was served in a small stew pot with a crostini garnish. The stew was wonderful - rich and flavorful with both elegant and comforting qualities. Jonathan’s enjoyed his pork with polenta and roasted turnips and brussels sprouts. The wine was lovely and accompanied the food perfectly.

Montmartre is the perfect French restaurant for a date or special meal. It is charming, relaxing, and elegant. The food is delicious and - most importantly - dining here reminds me of being in France. At this point in my quest, this is my favorite French restaurant in the district.

1 comment:

Bethany said...

Sounds delicious! It brings back great memories of European cuisine.