Often times I feel as if I am perpetually late-to-the-game of the "cool stuff folks in D.C. have already done." With the rare exception of luxury restaurants, hotels and party-experiences in D.C., I rarely know the hippest spots so I count myself fortunate to have friends constantly opening my eyes and broadening my horizons beyond my usual haunts and neighborhood joints. Enter into this space of broadening my horizons the darlingest French bistro/wine bar Primrose in D.C. still very (!) up-and-coming Brookland neighborhood.
PHOTO: Le Mistral cocktail made with Rose, St. Germain, Plantation rum, cassis, soda, herbes de Provence bitters by Sery Kim
Co-owned by Sebastian Zutant and his lovely wife Lauren Winter -- partners are Chef Nathan Beauchamp of the ever popular first date restaurant The Fainting Goat and Greg Algie, Primrose hits upon all the quintessential elements, in my opinion, which make French bistros so fabulous -- and everyone knows I am a complete and utter Francophile (can't wait to buy a second home in France!): patio space, lux decor, sublime food, great atmosphere and of course amazing cocktails.
PHOTO: Left is Etourdi and right is Chaque Mot, Chaque Geste by Sery Kim
In particular, I have an affinity for great, slightly sweet but with a PUNCH cocktails. I always ask the bartender for their top sweet cocktails and I was recommended the Chaque Mot, Chaque Geste as well as the Etourdi. The drink in the photograph above on the right, with the fresh red tint is the Chaque Mot, Chaque Geste. Made with Citadelle Gin, blackberry and blood orange soda, the cocktail was even too sweet for me but I adored the Etourdi. The pitch perfect blend of sweet and punchy arrived in Civic vodka, Castarede Armagnac Blanche, basil simple syrup, lime, orange bitters and quatre epices. Another very popular cocktail is the Le Mistral -- first cocktail photo -- and I can assure you it was fabulously wonderful to sit outside in 75 degree weather drinking the Rose, St. Germain, Plantation rum, cassis, soda and herbes de Provence bitters blended cocktail. Bar Director Frank Manganello certainly has done it right with the cocktail list.
PHOTO: Mousse du Foie de Canard by Sery Kim
As a baseline, when I begin to order food at French restaurants, I always get three dishes: the foie, the pate and the beef bourguignon. I feel these are three dishes which every French restaurants has so you can easily compare the kitchen's absolutely to flavor and present even if the various restaurant menus fluctuate in choices. Primrose did not have the beef bourguignon on their menu but they did have both the foie and the pate so I started with both.
As someone who is mad for foie, I really enjoyed Primrose's simple and classic version. Executive Chef John de Paz added just a bit of cherries on top to add some sweet cut, which some do not prefer, but for me I absolutely desire something sweet to go with my foie. The pate, however, arrived too warm, almost in a butter form rather than a hardened, cold version which I prefer for a pate -- ironically, in my least favorite dessert at Primrose, the Eclair, arrived frosty cold with the center absolutely icy, typically how pates are delivered.
PHOTO: Steak Frites by Sery Kim
As for other popular Charcuterie and Petit Plats, Primrose recommends the French onion soup, the Crab a Carapace Molle (tempura soft shell crab, corn pudding, fiddleheads) as well as two brand new items for the summer: Crevettes, a unique blend of shrimp, carrot and garlic chips, as well as the Gnocchi Parisienne (garlic, gruyere and swiss chard). I think if you stick with ordering the foie and one of the petit plats, this will save plenty of room for the main entree which I highly recommend either the Primrose Burger or the Steak Frites, a replacement for the beef bourguignon. Both come with Primrose's excellent fries, something which I can definitely say I am an absolute expert on! Just thick enough to make eating the fry worthwhile, extra long to absorb some of the alcohol, while all-together crisp, not oily and just the ideal amount of salt. It really says a lot about a kitchen's talent when they can present fries in such a delicious manner so I say kudos to Primrose!
Also, since I am trying to eat more vegetables, I definitely recommend adding a side of the Legume de Saison, which is currently the brussel sprout. Phenomenally tasty with just a hint of sear to the brussel, laying on a bed of super nice sauce -- will need to figure out what it is exactly but it was akin to taken a sweet mustard, deconstructing it, whipping it into an almost foam before adding back in some thickening agent. I could have just eaten a dinner of the foie, the french fries and the brussel sprouts ... which I may go back and do!!
And, since for me, no meal is complete without dessert, I ordered a few. I always find it humorous that every time I order dessert, the tables all around me always swivel their heads to see what I ordered. I laugh because I think it100% has to do with the fact I order 3, 4 and sometimes 5 desserts rather than the actual dessert themselves. In this instance, I stuck with three and the Madeleines with seasonal creme were my favorite. Hot and nicely cooked. As I mentioned previously the eclair was icy cold and wholly unappetizing as a result. The Chocolat Pots de Creme was fine but, again, at the wrong temperature for me -- though not as cold as the eclair.
Overall though I had an absolutely delightful time. The only thing really missing from my dinner was some French music playing in the background or candles on the table like every bistro I go to in Paris has, but if these are my only lasting complaints then I think Primrose did the whole experience just right!