L’Hommage Serves Classic French Dishes
Restaurateur Hakan Ilhan opened L’Hommage Bistro Francais, 450 K St. NW, on Sept. 11, although the separate bakery opened Sept. 4. This is his second restaurant in the Mount Vernon Triangle neighborhood, joining Alba Osteria, 425 I St. NW. He is planning to open a third eatery in the neighborhood next March, the 200-seat Ottoman Taverna full-service Turkish restaurant next door to Alba in the same building.
Don’t let the outside of L’Hommage fool you. Located on the ground floor of Kettler’s new 450K apartment complex, the 176-seat, two-level L’Hommage is a French-style bistro with a white marble bar top, dark wood, deep reds and yellows along with brass accents, white tablecloths and Oneida silverware. The bakery features tin ceilings and an ornate tile floor.
The 176-seat, 6,500-foot restaurant was designed by Matt Norris of Norris Design in Atlanta. There are two separate semi-private dining rooms that can hold up to 60 guests each.
The menu from executive chef Joshua Laban Perkins is classic French that incorporates traditional cooking techniques. Before coming to L’Hommage, he was a chef at The Grove Grill in Memphis. Prior to that he was executive chef at Brasserie Le Coze in Atlanta, sister restaurant to New York City’s Le Bernardin and had owned Globe, a contemporary American bistro in Atlanta.
There are two types of oysters at market price and mussels served four ways for $18.50 – marinier with white wine, butter, shallots, garlic and parsley; a la diable with a spicy tomato broth; in a curry lime broth with coconut milk and kefir lime; and Monegasque with chopped tomato, red onion, garlic and basil. There’s also the traditional escargot ($14) with parsley, garlic butter and pommes robuchon; sweet breads aigre doux ($13) with espellete, raisins, sweet and sour sauce, and crème fraiche for the more adventurous, steak frites ($24.95) with flat iron steak, maître d’ butter, pommes frites and watercress salad; poulet roti ($23), a half chicken with pommes puree, sweet garlic jus and baby vegetables; boudin blanc ($20), house-made pork sausage with white bean cassoulet; coq au vin, red wine braised chicken with pearl onions, mushrooms and baby carrots; and nicoise salad ($20) with seared tuna, haricot vert, egg, new potatoes and nicoise olives.
During our visit Tuesday night, the weather was perfect, and my guest and I opted to dine on the 82-seat outdoor seasonal patio. Dinner started with bread made in house by pastry chef Nicole Shirley.
We opted for a trio of appetizers. The onion soup gratinee ($10) was full of onions with beef broth, a toasted baguette and loads of gooey gruyere cheese melted on top. It was delicious. The mushroom tart ($11) was also tasty with a puff pastry topped with loads of mixed mushroom, eggplant caviar and pecorino cheese. The one appetizer I’d skip on my next visit was the gougeres ($7.50), a cheese puff filled with a mornay cheese mixture, which was more dough than cheese. Also, the cheese flavor wasn’t very prominent.
For our main courses, I ordered the classic boeuf bourguignon ($23), which was perfect. You could taste the red wine and it was full of big chunks of braised beef, baby carrots, asparagus, mushrooms around a mound of mashed potatoes. My guest ordered the dorade royale ($24), two pieces of crispy-skinned fish on top of glazed gnocchi, seasonal vegetables and verjus butter. Not a big fan of fish, I wouldn’t order this dish again, but my friend liked it. We also shared the haircots vert ($10) with maitre’d butter and the grilled asparagus ($10) with a roasted tomato vinaigrette and crème fraiche. Both were excellent.
Dessert choices were also difficult choosing from the Alsatian apple tart ($9) with almond pastry cream and dulce de leche ice cream to the Gigi’s Pavlava ($9), meringue with strawberries Romanov, to the profiteroles ($9) with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. I chose the crème brulee ($8) with classic vanilla custard. It was very tasty with its hard caramel layer on top of the custard base, although it was actually more of a cream than custard. My guest chose the lemon tart ($10) with lemon curd and blackberry coulis. Both were excellent choices to end the meal along with a cup of cappuccino ($4.75).
Overall, L’Hommage Bistro Francais is a great restaurant with classic French food that will give Le Diplomate a run for its money. All the food was tasty and most worth ordering again. It is good for an intimate dinner for two, happy hour with coworkers or a meal with a group of friends. If I had any complaint, it would be that the staff was over attentive. With five managers and the many servers and runners, someone is constantly stopping by the table. Your water glass won’t even get half empty before someone is there to fill it from a bottle left on the table. This does make it hard to carry on a conversation at times with all the interruptions. Granted, we were there about 5:30 p.m., so maybe once more people made their way from work and the staff was busier, they wouldn’t be tripping over themselves to serve us.
L’Hommage’s bakery is open from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. daily serving breakfast, grab-and-go and made-to-order sandwiches, as well as some grab-and-go dinner entrees and full coffee service using Illy coffee. The bistro is open from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. for lunch and 3-5:30 pm. for mid-day lunch Monday through Friday. Dinner is served from 5:30 p.m.-midnight Sunday through Thursday, 5:30 p.m.-1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Brunch, which just began last weekend, is served from 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Editor-in-Chief Mark Heckathorn is a journalist, movie buff and foodie. He oversees DC on Heels editorial operations as well as strategic planning and staff development. Reach him with story ideas or suggestions at dcoheditor (at) gmail (dot) com.