By Bob Tagert
La Bergerie – The Elegance of France and French Cuisine
In France, the name “La Bergerie” refers to the sheltered and protected area where a shepherd keeps his flock during a storm. It was that evocative sense of protection and care that led the original owners to select a name that would reflect both the fond memories of their youth in France as well as their concern for the well-being of every one of their dining guests.
Laurent Janowsky, the restaurant’s new owner since 2000 and his wonderful staff, now continues that commitment to culinary excellence and to a warm tradition of hospitality started in 1974. Under Laurent’s skilled supervision, La Bergerie continues to set the standard for regional French cooking in the area and continues to be recognized as one of the premier French restaurants in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.”
I could not have said it any better. I have been around Old Town since the days when Bernard and Jean owned La Bergerie and it was the toast of the town. When Laurent took over the operation, he made a few subtle changes but the quality of the kitchen remained. It has to be noted here that Laurent was also a long time employee of the restaurant so he already had a great feel for its operation.
While the restaurant doesn’t have an eye catching storefront – it is located on the second floor of the Crilley Warehouse building on North Lee Street – the interior transports you to another dimension. Muted beige colors set the tone for the restaurant with seating at tables for four and also half round booths that are very intimate. The décor is quite welcoming and makes for a very relaxing experience. The white linen table coverings add a certain amount of class to the place and the conversation tone is low and respectful of other diners.
The wine list at La Bergerie, as one might expect, is quite extensive with a strong emphasis on French and Californian wines. Washingtonian Magazine noted that their “International wine list is long and fairly priced.” The complete wine list features both a Standard ad a Reserve list, plus over 10 wines by glass. For guests who would like to bring a special bottle of wine from their cellar to enjoy, just check the information page on their web site for current policy.
In addition to their regular menu, La Bergerie has a sample four course tasting menu that changes slightly every two weeks. The choices for appetizers include Bergerie salad, Shad Roe, Roasted Bone marrow and six Chesapeake oysters. The second course includes Wild Mushrooms Fricasse, Norweigan Salmon, and Fresh Duck Foie Gras. T third course includes Ahi Tuna, Roasted Lobster, Lamb Loin stuffed with lamb sausage to Grilled Quail. The final dessert course includes Traditional Crème Brulee, Chocolate Molten Cake, and Orange Mousse Parfait to their incredible Soufflés with a choice f Raspberry, Hazelnut or Grand Marnier.
While I could go on and on about the food, I believe the photos accompanying this piece will speak for themselves (check out the plating of the roasted lobster). Something I forgot to mention earlier is that this place also makes a very good cocktail. Try whetting your appetite with a vodka gimlet straight up on your next visit!