What’s Happening in DC: New Openings, New Chef Hires, and Barbecue Bashes

D.C. diners can sample pulled pork, Californian cuisine, and French classics to chase the chill of winter

The Oval Room recently welcomed a new executive chef, John Melfi.

Recently, Washington, D.C. has seen the arrival, or learned about the anticipated arrival, of modern Parisian cafés, American restaurants, pubs, sandwich shops, and haute cuisine temples from both coasts.

What's Happening in D.C. (Slideshow)

It seems D.C. is fast becoming a destination for out-of-town restaurant groups anxious to get in on the gold rush of our exploding restaurant scene — not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just that keeping up with the rapid pace of openings is a little like that famous chocolate factory scene from the I Love Lucy T.V. program, so we’re doing our best to keep you up-to-date and have put together just a taste of what’s hot, hip, and happening in and around D.C.

Bistrot Royal Opens in Alexandria

Credit: Bistrot Royal

On Wednesday, January 21, chefs Christophe and Michelle Poteaux opened Bistrot Royal, a casual French bistrot located on the waterfront in Old Town Alexandria. The bistrot is replacing the Poteaux’s other long-time restaurant, Bastille, which has moved to a new location. Bistrot Royal’s 42 seats can accommodate guests for lunch, dinner, and desserts in cozy Parisian-style banquettes, high top bar seats, or, as the French say, en plein air on the patio. Chef de cuisine Salvador Alvarez, will oversee menus that include classics such as moules marinières and pommes frites, coq au vin, frisée aux lardons, and crème brûlée.

Bastille Re-Opens in Alexandria

Credit: Bastille

On Monday, January 26, only a few days behind the successful open of Bistrot Royal, chefs Christophe and Michelle Poteaux proudly re-open Bastille at its new, larger location on North Fayette Street in Alexandria, Va.

Along with an updated kitchen, Bastille’s dining room will now be able to accommodate 140 guests in two dining rooms, an all-day café, and in the patio courtyard. A more au courante décor featuring burnished wood accents, cityscape photographs, and sleek lighting gives the restaurant a contemporary French ambience.

The new chef de cuisine is Dawn Burkart, a former colleague from Aquarelle, and while the menu retains many of the French classics, chef Christophe Poteaux has added new dishes like paella à la plancha and Maine lobster braised in coconut curry broth. These additions reflect modern France’s cultural diversity and include culinary flavors and recipes from North Africa and the Middle East. Chef Michelle Poteaux will continue to offer excellent housemade sweets and baked goods such as galette de pain flatbread, a selection of ice creams, and made-to-order cakes for special occasions.


Summer Whitford is the D.C. City Guide Editor at The Daily Meal and the DC Wine Examiner. You can follow her on Twitter @FoodandWineDiva.