Ici Urban Bistro, Washington, D.C. – Restaurant Review

By Christian Stampfer on 8 February 2012
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A well-kept secret in Washington is the Sofitel hotel’s restaurant, ici Urban Bistro.  Ici, which means “here” in French, is open for breakfast, lunch (except weekends), and dinner.  Whatever you do, do not assume this is a typical hotel restaurant.  It is most decidedly not.

What the diner finds is a restaurant that offers diners a quiet and relaxed oasis in a busy town. The décor is modern and comfortable, with unclothed tables and elegant wooden surfaces.  The result is stylish and refined, yet not at all formal or stuffy.

The restaurant has an excellent wine list and many of the wines in it are available by the glass. We selected a dry Pierre Sparr Riesling from the Alsace region of France, which we had visited in the beginning of the year.

After an amuse bouche treat from the kitchen, I started with a seasonal tomato soup while my dining companion, FBT Editorial Director Jonathan Spira, enjoyed the French onion soup, which he described as rich and cheesy.

For the main course, I selected the grilled Wagyu rib eye beef with French fries while Jonathan ordered the confit lamb shoulder with glazed turnips, baby carrots, cumin jus and cilantro oil.  Both were excellent and the presentations were artful.

The breads and rolls were fresh and highly addictive, I should add.  Caution is advised lest you not have room for dessert later on.

A De-light three-course meal that the menu explains “harnesses the intrinsic healing powers of seawater” while promoting balanced nutrition is available as well. The calorie count for the three courses is less than 500.  Our caloric count was somewhat higher.

I was curious about the deconstructed banana split (“déclinaison banana et chocolat”), which came with banana mousse, chocolate crumble, and chocolate ice cream.  It was the right choice.   Jonathan’s molten chocolate (“moelleux au chocolat”) with pistachio heart and pear sorbet couldn’t compete.

The service was excellent and unhurried and the waiters were extremely knowledgeable about the food and the wine.

Ici Urban Bistro
Sofitel Washington DC Lafayette Square
806 15th Street NW
Washington DC 20005
Tel. +1 202 730-8800


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