Ici Urban Bistro: A First Look
Washingtonians have witnessed a recent revitalization of DC area hotel restaurants. The mind-set that hotel restaurants are not up to par to other high-end restaurants no longer exists. Ici Urban Bistro, is an excellent example – located inside the stylish Sofitel situated in the historic LaFayette Square, the building erected in 1880; just blocks away from the white house. The clean, crisp, and modern dining room features brightly colored artwork set against a backdrop of rich jewel tones. The swanky leather dining chairs are situated at an angle at the table to complete the look. This is not your customary French restaurant – Ici Urban Bistro offers a fresh and contemporary twist on traditional French cuisine. The Executive Chef, Olivier Perret who is a native of Burgundy, France has been on board just a few months and is already captivating DC diners with his innovative and contemporary approach to traditional French cooking. The new Chef comes to the chic French restaurant by way of Cafe des Architectes, a modern French brasserie housed in the Water Tower neighborhood of Chicago. He received his culinary training at the Ecole HoteliÃ¨re Isle d’Abeau in IsÃ¨re, France. He then honed his craft at the acclaimed Restaurant La Tassee in Lyon, France and later worked at French restaurants in Canada and the United States, including Restaurant Renoir at the Sofitel Montreal.
The menu is comprised of wonderfully tempting options. Diners have the opportunity to create their own tasting menu of ‘petits plats’ like Chicken and Mushroom Crepes, Crab Salad, and Burgundy Escargots. The appetizers offered on the current menu range from $11 to $15. The Chicken and Chanterelle Mushroom CrÃªpes are scrumptious and resemble a thin ravioli – as crÃªpes are a type of very thin, cooked pancake. These are very well-seasoned and beautifully presented in a fragrant tarragon sauvignon blanc sauce (see photo above on left). Tarragon is evidently one of the four ‘fines herbes’ of French cooking and particularly suitable for chicken dishes like Chef Perret’s crÃªpes. The portion size shown in the photo above is smaller than the actual appetizer portion provided – the photo above is from a special ‘tasting’ menu.
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