In La Bise, a well-established downtown destination is getting a French makeover
For his new post at La Bise, the French replacement for revered Oval Room in downtown DC, Executive Chef Tyler Stout came up with a description of the cuisine that is a bit more specific than just calling it “modern.” At the restaurant that opened blocks from the White House last week, Stout says he aims to showcase recognizable classic flavors, but “in one lane for 2021, and not 1985 Ducasse. La Bise (800 Connecticut Avenue NW) will appeal to the type of diners who are familiar with this abandoned named chef jobbut also “your aunt who never goes out to eat and wants a well done steak,” says Stout.
This is the line that the chef will have to follow in his new role, which follows three years in Troquet to the south, one of the best French restaurants In Boston, and one history in washington at Macon Bistro & Larder and Bethesda’s Barrel and Crow. Each dish on the opening menu (full version below) is under $ 40. Stout says customers are welcome to show up in shorts, but La Bise is also aiming for a Michelin star. It would be a first for restaurateur Ashok Bajaj, who oversaw a 26-year run for the oval room before shutting it down during the pandemic.
La Bise serves Maine lobster, but instead of poaching it, the kitchen cooks it over clean-burning binchotan charcoal on a Japanese-style konro grill. The cooks sprinkle the lobster with a mixed butter that includes lobster eggs, lemon juice and a little saffron. An accompanying hoe cake contains more eggs and carrot juice, both of which give an orange color. The sauce is a carrot-ginger emulsion with reduced butter, and there is an espuma of shishito pepper and basil. Because La Bise takes a “hyper-seasonal” approach and constantly changes the menu, Stout says the $ 19 first course may only be available for a few weeks, even if it’s the dish he has the most. looking forward to serving.
Stout serves seared foie gras, but its version is a game of strawberry shortcake with squeezed fruit, homemade butter-toasted brioche and a strawberry-champagne sauce with a little tarragon dipped in it. A buttermilk mousse replaces whipped cream and a strawberry shrub (vinegar syrup) helps cut the main fat ingredient. Chicken liver pate on a deli board contains about 30 percent liver, which Stout says makes the spread less iodized. He makes his own head cheese and charcuterie, but the ham on the set comes from the Bayonne region in France.
Larger dishes include an Ora King salmon coulibiac, a return dish of fish in puff pastry with mushroom duxelles, rice with herbs, dill, and mousseline sauce. A $ 38 serving of pistachio-crusted lamb loin comes with vacuum-packed lamb belly crisp on the grill, chanterelles and English peas cooked in pea juice with herbs, candied lemon and a butter emulsion. The “wild garlic” listed with lamb is actually green garlic chow chow, a sweet pickle prepared in the style that Stout ate with just about anything during his childhood in North Carolina.
Bajaj wanted to see fried steaks on the menu, so Stout made chunks of dry-aged beef that are lightly glazed in a Bordeaux sauce and served with Bernaise. He says he spent two weeks making French fries, ending with a technique that incorporates multiple cycles of blanching, cooling and cooking.
There are still white tablecloths on the tables, but Bajaj ordered an aesthetic refresh to make the space less stuffy and more “playful,” he says. One step was to knock down the walls around the central bar to create an open kitchen. Others included hanging mirrored tiles around a wall in one of the two dining rooms, creating the impression of sitting inside a disco ball. One wall wrap features an abstract pattern of female cartoon characters showing salmon-colored skin, which adds a touch of flamingo kitsch.
“It lifts you up, and that’s exactly what the goal was,” Bajaj says. “Coming out of this year of kind of declines, we want to feel good. “