Bistro Vivant in McLean, Virginia, has appointed a new chef de cuisine, Katie Busch, who’s spearheading a menu filled with authentic, at-home French fare.
Busch, who has worked at Aureole by Charlie Palmer and Fishtail by David Burke, amongst other stops, is bringing some of that big city experience to the D.C. suburbs. Despite its strip mall location, Bistro Vivant does indeed make you feel right at home, and the current menu offers a collection of French classics as well as local and seasonally inspired dishes.
Service is friendly and helpful, and the interior from the traditional Bistro-style setup and design to the brightly colored, handwritten chalkboard featuring specials of the day, all adds to the warm, homey feeling for guests. Homey, that is, if your home features some truly standout French cooking. Simple, well planned and executed dishes highlight each ingredient and bring out rich, deep flavors.
The menu only has about 10 first courses and entrees, plus the added daily specials, but you’ll find yourself hard-pressed to narrow down the enticing selection.
Starters include a roasted beet salad with fourme d’ambert and a white balsamic vinaigrette; parmesan-poached duck egg with pancetta, oyster mushrooms and kale which is just asking to be sopped up with the warm, fresh bread you’ll receive; hand-cut prime beef tartare; and seared foie gras with a Marcona almond crumble and poached quince. The almonds and the sear provide a great crunch and texture to work with the unctuous foie and the sweet flavors in the dish.
Current main courses include barley risotto with prawns; wild salmon with a parsnip puree and picked baby beets, and Canadian lobster with kale and roasted winter squash. Of course, you’ll also find bistro standbys such as steamed mussels, steak frites, braised lamb shank cassoulet, and crispy duck confit. The duck confit is served with a green peppercorn sauce and showcased craveable crispy skin and pull-away tender meat.
The wine list is certainly an attraction here. There’s about two dozen wines offered by the glass or carafe, in addition to a larger selection of wines by the bottle, and an exclusive hand-picked collection of premium level “Les Vins Exeptionels”, where several bottles top out at over $500. Don’t worry though, others on the menu start at $9 per glass and bottles begin at $35 and go up from there, and if you don’t know where to start, the staff is eager to chime in with a well-honed pairing or suggestion.
Don’t skip out on the dessert, either — from gelato to warm, house-made tarts with perfectly flaky crusts, you’ll be able satisfy the sweet tooth before you leave, too.
Bistro Vivant is located at 1394 Chain Bridge Road in McLean, Virginia, in the Langley Shopping Center. Visit BistroVivant.com for more information on the restaurant and its menu, or to make reservations.