The French Touch
I've been on a number of dates in Georgetown, but I've never quite found the right date spot. Washington Harbour can be too much of a scene. Ditto Blue Gin, despite its excellent cocktails. Martin's Tavern is cozy -- and small and often crowded. Rhino Bar ... surely not.
I don't know why it took so long for the charms of Bistrot Lepic's wine bar to sink in, but visiting the North Georgetown restaurant this weekend, everything seemed tailor-made for a quiet evening for two. Lights were low. Candles flickered on each table. The cup-like chairs and the large couch were comfortable. The ceiling overhead was painted to resemble the night sky...
Unlike the busy, sunny restaurant downstairs, you don't need to make reservations or worry about ordering a full meal. It's easier to graze from the "appeteaser" menu, where a thick country pate arrives with olives, cornichons and toasted bread; the onion tart with bacon is smooth inside a flaky crust; and the wild mushroom fricassee is warm and rich. (If you're into offal, you can get your fix of liver and kidneys, or stick to the veal cheeks.)
Of course, this is a wine bar, and a French one at that. The all-Gallic list contains six reds and six whites by the glass, four champagnes and sparklers, a rose from Provence and a special wine of the week. (The Viognier, Gigondas and Chateauneuf-du-Pape are particularly interesting, and my date accused me of taking an extra-long sip of her Gigondas.) All are available by the half-glass, ranging from $4 to $8, which makes sampling and sharing easier.
Another plus for the curious (and the budget-minded) is the weekly wine tasting. This Wednesday from 6 to 8, you can try free glasses of Daniel Crochet, a producer from Sancerre in the Loire Valley; our bartender, who doubles as the room's server, told us a white (made with sauvignon blanc grapes), a red and a rose (both pinot noir) will be available. Tastings are usually held on Tuesdays, when all bottles of wine also are 20 percent off. But who would complain about a day's delay when the wine is free?
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