1201 N. Royal St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
PRICE $$$ ($21-$30)
HOURS Open for lunch, Tuesday through Saturday, dinner, Tuesday through Sunday, brunch Sunday.
NVM AWARDS Best New Restaurant 2007
Best Restaurant 2008
Best Restaurant 2009
Best Restaurant 2010
Best Restaurant 2011
Best Restaurant 2012
NEARBY METRO None
SPECIAL FEATURESOutdoor Dining
By Warren Rojas
Food: 8.4 Ambiance: 7.8 Service: 7.8
“I think they make their own ketchup here,” a giddy patron posited as she pushed her plate of steak and frites toward her date for him to try.
I watched that couple shoo away any servers who dared try to retire the plate, the two blissfully plunging herb-flecked fries into the obviously engaging tomato sauce until their were no more spuds to be had.
Looks like someone’s got Heinz’s number.
Chef Christophe Poteaux continues to cook to the seasons, loosing carefully honed accompaniments (crispy garbanzo panisse, rhubarb gastriques) alongside handsomely prepared mains.
Deep-fried oysters arrive nestled in alternating beds of sour (lemon aioli) and sweet (diced piquillos).
Buttery chicken, its meat perfumed by herbs and moistened by pan juices, anchors a fricassee populated by browned garlic, asparagus and morels.
Blood orange compote takes sour cream cake for a wonderfully tart ride.(November 2009)
By Warren Rojas
Food: 8.2 Ambiance: 7.4 Service: 7.2
“That’s another excellent choice, because they’re both in season,” the waiter informs me as we weigh the plethora of eye-on-the-harvest options chefs/owners Christophe Poteaux and Michelle Garbee-Poteaux spin out at Bastille.
The modest bistro— the place is so small, the din of the constantly running dishwasher and clatter of in-need-of-re-rolling flatware occasionally drowns out conversations at the bar—has made choice a cornerstone of its dining operation, carving out tempting prix fixe feasts for lunch-, dinner-, brunch- and even theater-goers.
Champagne vinaigrette-splashed cucumbers, forceful gravlax, herb-spiked cheese cake and piquant capers initially shake awake the senses before lulling your pleasure centers into a dream state.
Seared chicken—a delivery vehicle laden with smoke and juice—arrives embedded in a fennel-laced couscous bolstered by the best of the Mediterranean (roasted tomatoes, nutty basil pesto and earthy Moroccan spices make for authentic eating).
A flirty hummingbird torte yields moist, honey-glazed spice cake slathered in decadent cream cheese frosting and sprinkled with candied nuts (vanished almost as quickly as its namesake).(November 2008)
By Warren Rojas
Food: 8.1 Ambiance: 7.7 Service: 7.1
Contemporary French locks arms with relaxed American at Bastille, a quaint neighborhood bistro commanded by Christophe Poteaux (BOH) and Michelle Poteaux-Garbee (FOH).
Michelle dutifully marshals her floor staff (expedites orders, announces mid-rush changes), keeps watch over the patrons (pouring wine, fielding calls) and does whatever else is needed to keep the business humming smoothly.
Meanwhile, Christophe leads a kitchen crew tasked with turning out lunch, dinner and brunch deals, multi-course tasting menus and myriad daily specials, along with their core carte.
A generous portion of steak and frites reveals flash-seared beef flush with red wine and shallots. A slick of sauteed cucumbers (glassy, sassy gourd) all but steals the show out from under brown butter-bathed sea bass. Lamb chops get a Mediterranean makeover courtesy of spicy harissa oil and zucchini ratatouille (summer freshness by the forkful).
Best New Revolutionary Cafe(March 2007)
By Warren Rojas
There's certainly no shortage of fancy French cooking in the Northern Virginia area. Still, it's always a pleasure to see talented chefs cross the Potomac to practice their craft in more intimate environs-as is the case at neighborhood gem, Bastille.
Ex-Aquarelle toques Christophe Poteaux (savory) and Michelle Garbee (sweets) fled the District for the spot formerly occupied by the Cajun-themed Café Marianna. Patrons are now greeted by glossy wood tables, refinished hardwood floors and cheery paintings by local artists that leap out from walls awash in earthy brown and deep burgundy tones.
Garbee maintains a watchful eye on both sides of the house here, often pausing to personally instruct staff on potential wine and even gourmet beer pairings to accompany Poteaux's nouveau French cuisine.
A snazzy crab and crawfish cake reveals a lemony patty of fresh seafood (no filler here) served amidst a garden of fresh greens. An all-duck charcuterie tray brings fatty prosciutto with preserves, a crackly leg confit and a buttery rillete. Atlantic cod (nicely seared) is draped across a zesty mound of citrus-soaked risotto. Even the misses are somewhat praiseworthy. Faintly sweet calamari beignets-clever seafood clusters of squid and shrimp in a deep-fried embrace-are terrific, but often get overpowered by their harissa (a traditional Tunisian hot sauce) yogurt mate. Likewise, a handsome croque monsieur is sabotaged by too much salt (salty butter on the bread butts heads with the equally salty country ham within), only to be redeemed by some grand homemade frites.