Still serv­ing crepes, but much more as well

Re­named Le Bistro Du Vil­lage in Mt. Wash­ing­ton stresses full French menu

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - REAL ESTATE - By Suzanne Lou­d­er­milk

For a long time, I didn’t re­al­ize Crepe du Jour in Mount Wash­ing­ton served more than crepes. Ev­i­dently, oth­ers didn’t ei­ther, and own­ers Mustapha Snoussi and Donna Mor­ris-Snoussi de­cided to do some­thing about it.

They re­cently changed the name of the restau­rant to Le Bistro Du Vil­lage after 20 years in busi­ness to re­flect their broader menu, which in­cludes clas­sics like es­car­gots, onion soup, mus­sels and steak frites.

If you’re look­ing for a place with French com­fort food, this is it. But crepe fans, don’t worry. The sa­vory and sweet crepes are still avail­able.

“We’ll never take them off,” said Mustapha Snoussi, who started serv­ing the thin, filled pan­cakes in a push­cart in Cross Keys in 1997 be­fore mov­ing to Sul­grave Av­enue in 2000.

The quaint din­ing room with ma­roo­nand-gold pais­ley table­cloths re­minds me of the quaint eater­ies you find tucked into Parisian streets, where the pro­pri­etors cook and serve nur­tur­ing dishes to hun­gry tourists.

At Le Bistro Du Vil­lage, Mustapha Snoussi as­sumes that role, spend­ing time in the kitchen, but also act­ing as the af­fa­ble host, pour­ing wine and chat­ting with guests.

We were sur­prised by how many din­ers were in the restau­rant on a re­cent Tues­day. Our server — her sec­ond day on the job, she con­fided — was a cheer­ful as­set, who al­ready knew her way around the menu.

There are sev­eral ways to be­gin your meal. A sim­ple cheese plate will tempt you with choices like a creamy Brie and white ched­dar, along with crunchy breads. The gar­licky es­car­gots, mi­nus their shells, will do their best to snare you, too. And you won’t go wrong if you suc­cumb to these but­tery nuggets.

A lot of the dishes at Le Bistro Du Vil­lage are en­riched with but­ter. Em­brace it. Some­where, Ju­lia Child is look­ing on ap­pre­cia­tively.

And how can you re­sist an onion soup made with three types of onions that has a sweet, pleas­ant un­der­tone and, bless­edly, a cap of smooth Gruyere that isn’t awk­wardly stringy?

Mus­sels can also be an open­ing act. There’s much good to be said about the pommes frites — the thin, salty and crispy potato sticks that ac­com­pany the three dif­fer­ent prepa­ra­tions of the mus­sels. They will trans­port you across the ocean.

But we weren’t fond of our moules marinieres. The mus­sels lacked an ad­e­quate white-wine broth, had a small scat­ter­ing of toma­toes and were buried in chopped garlic.

You can or­der “Le Cheese­burger” for a main course or any num­ber of en­trees, which are listed in French (as are all the dishes on the menu) but de­scribed in English.

The coq au vin may look like a brown mush, but don’t be dis­cour­aged. This heav­enly chicken braised in Bur­gundy wine with ba­con, mush­rooms and onions de­serves your at­ten­tion.

We im­me­di­ately fell un­der the spell of the trout atop abun­dant spinach leaves, al­monds, rice and a be­witch­ing pud­dle of brown but­ter.

The hanger steak, en­riched with caramelized shal­lots in a red-wine sauce, while suc­cu­lent, cried out for more girth. De­spite its diminu­tive size, it com­pen­sated with a boun­ti­ful stack of pommes frites.

We didn’t for­get about the restau­rant’s crepe her­itage and were sur­prised, and en­am­ored, by the plate-size crepe MarieAn­toinette, puffed with shrimp and crab in a creamy Gruyere sauce.

Since they didn’t have prof­iteroles that night, we opted for two dessert crepes — one ter­rific; the other, not.

The crepe Suzette was drown­ing in an overly sweet bath of lemony sauce. The menu ad­ver­tises the dish as “flambé with Grand Marnier,” but there was no light­ing at the ta­ble. It’s not al­lowed, Snoussi told us.

The crepe Mount Wash­ing­ton de­liv­ered a bet­ter pack­age with caramelized ap­ples, Nutella and mango. A scoop of vanilla ice cream tied it all to­gether.

With its new name, Le Bistro Du Vil­lage is get­ting the mes­sage out that it is not just a creperie but a full-fledged French restau­rant. Still, I’m glad it hasn’t for­got­ten its sig­na­ture sta­ple.

LLOYD FOX/BALTIMORE SUN PHO­TOS

Mount Wash­ing­ton’s Le Bistro Du Vil­lage was known for years as Crepe du Jour.

Es­car­gots in but­ter are among the restau­rant’s clas­sic French dishes.

Trout comes with spinach leaves, al­monds, rice and a pud­dle of brown but­ter.

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