Lest you think I never leave my own neighborhood I thought I should do a post on a restaurant not found on Capitol Hill. It’s a bit of a cheat because I can walk to this place from my office but honestly Chez Billy Sud is so great I would happily leave the comfort of my home and even take a bus to get some of their French magic. When I first moved to DC, Georgetown was one of the few places you could go out to eat. However, now it barely registers a blip on foodie radars. Some really bad, overpriced and staid restaurants are partly to blame. Also new parts of the city began to develop, most with lower rents and more access to public transit, leaving Georgetown out of the loop. I still make the trek just to walk the streets and pick out my dream house, and the shopping is still pretty good, but when I got hungry it was time to vamoose. No more – Chez Billy Sud changed all that and I believe opened the door to more restaurateurs taking a second look at Georgetown. The original Chez Billy (which sadly I still have not been to) is in Petworth, one of those up and coming, much lower rent spots. It’s instant success allowed them the freedom to take over the old Cafe la Rouge space (thank god – the last time I had lunch there was plastic in my croque monsieur!!). They transformed the space into a pistachio colored French dream world with lovely woodwork and gold details.
My girlfriend Stefanie says the original in Petworth is much darker, so I am glad they went light and airy with this space (note to self: next time you are there make sure to get the paint color). Every detail is attended to right down to the chic striped napkins and the coffered ceiling. The service here is really gracious and it’s one of the few places in the city where you can actually hear yourself think (and they take reservations). They also have an incredible patio open in the warmer months and will be opening a wine bar any minute now in the property next door. I could go on and on about the space but really it’s about the food. Chez Billy Sud does lunch, dinner and brunch on the weekends and it’s all equally fabulous. The menu changes seasonally (which I so appreciate) but there are some items that seem to be stand bys. I just love the chicken liver mouse – trust me, just pretend that you have no idea there are livers in there. They cover it with a wine gelee that adds a lovely sweetness to cut through the rich spread.
Of course they have an incredible cheese board – go ahead and trust your waiter to pick for you as they all have impeccable taste and well, its French cheese so you cannot really go wrong. Might as well start your meal with a cocktail as well, I am partial to the Frenchman which has apple brandy in it. Their wine list is also pretty good with a variety of prices and a heavy emphasis on French wines of course. I have a soft spot for their Moules Marinières, i.e. mussels steamed in wine and garlic. Paired with their incredible fries it’s the perfect lunch.
You really cannot go wrong with seafood at this place, the trout and salmon are done with a light hand with elegant French touches. They carry the classic Steak Frites as well as Beef Bourguignon in the colder months. For vegetarians the Les Semoules are a perfect pick – fluffy semolina dumplings served with tomato sauce and cheese on top they are warm, comforting and satisfying.
There dessert menu is small but has everything you would expect in a French bistro, Crème Brulee and Chocolate Mousse etc. The ones I have tried are delicious but honestly after eating baskets of bread, delicious Rose and a full meal I usually skip dessert. I cannot wait for the opening of the wine bar as I know it will be as thoughtfully done as Chez Billy Sud was – it’s time to head back to Georgetown for dinner people, you will not be disappointed.
Chez Billy Sud @ 1039 31st St NW, Washington, D.C.