Back to Rosemary Bistro and Cafe, Washington, DC

I’d been to Rosemary Bistro for an impromptu lunch back in the late summer and was vey impressed, as you can see from my review, here. It took me a while to get back, however. I have decided views on food to go. Some dishes are perfect for carry-out or delivery. That’s a strength of the red sauce dishes at Mama Lucia, for example. Other dishes travel badly, and I don’t like to order delicate, complex dishes — fish, for example — to pick up or have delivered. Ditto fried food. I tend to think it’s unfair to the food, the chef, and my wallet to order food that will be well below its best when it gets to me.

Thus, the weather and COVID restrictions kept us away, but as soon as Nancy and I had passed the two-week mark after our second vaccine, we decided to go out on a cold night to eat a good meal indoors, and headed straight down Connecticut Avenue to Rosemary Bistro.

We arrived and found one of their heated outside tables open, but asked for inside seating. It was well spaced, comfortable, and, most of all, warm. Inside, the tables were well spaced and the room was inviting.

Even I noticed that it was a lovely space inside, with a molded tin ceiling, Chihuly-ish light fixtures, and lots of greenery. There were colorful posters from the Fete de Bayonne on one side, and mirrors covered the opposite wall, offering a sense of space and underlining the posters. Instrumental French music was playing, La Vie en Rose and other favorites, with occasional vocal music. Nancy pointed out the quality of the dishes and glassware, and other details.  In all, the space is colorful, attractive, interesting, and pleasant. 

We sat at a well-spaced table. I ordered a glass of wine and Nancy ordered sparkling water with lime and no ice.  You would not think that’s a complex order, but most of the time the water arrives, to Nancy’s irritation, with ice, without lime, or both. Not so at Rosemary Cafe: it arrived just as ordered. It was a small detail, but characteristic.

I ordered the soup of the day to start, a mushroom soup.

Nancy started with an endive salad with Roquefort and apples.


Let’s start with Nancy’s salad. She loved it. The salad was simple but very nicely presented, and topped with a very good and very light vinaigrette. You actually don’t need to ask for the dressing on the side here.  As you can see, it was a generous serving.

My soup was a full, generous, delicious bowl. It came topped with seasoned croutons that added a nice texture and flavor.  The soup was rich with the flavors from a medley of quality mushrooms.  Delish  This was the best mushroom soup –probably the best non-gumbo soup — I’ve had since I had a mushroom soup made with a foie gras stock at Le Petit Prince de Paris.

On to the main courses. Nancy ordered the sautéed Norwegian salmon, which came with a carrot cumin puree and asparagus, shown here in an artistically out-of-focus photo.

Again, the salmon was a generous serving.  Nancy kept exclaiming about the smoothness of the carrot puree, which tasted a lot like butternut squash. It was very good. I had a taste, and the flavor was interesting and very good, but the creaminess startled me. It reminded me of how incredibly creamy mashed potatoes are in France, with a texture that makes them seem a dish apart. 

I ordered boeuf bourguignon with creamy pasta.

Usually boeuf bourguignon is served on top, so that it can flavor the otherwise bland pasta beneath. Here, as you can see, the pasta was on top of the beef. And it was great pasta, creamy with cheese, a fine dish in itself.  The beef and broth, with the onions and mushrooms, also was delicious, and the combination of beef and pasta was heavenly. 

What a lovely evening. It was really nice to have a great meal indoors again, and Rosemary Bistro was the perfect choice. Rosemary offers it all: a lovely setting, attentive service, and demanding dishes prepared exceptionally well.

One more thing. We went on a weeknight, and there were only three parties inside. We were at least 16 feet from any other diners. Dining indoors is allowed now, but it is under-utilized up in our neighborhood, at least by the standards that the scientists give us — and neighborhood restaurants desperately need to fill seats so that they can hang on. Unless the weather is delightful, please take a look inside. If it isn’t crowded, and especially if you’ve been vaccinated, consider eating where the meal will be better and more comfortable.

Each of us takes these issues in our own way, of course. Whatever your way, you certainly deserve a night out and a good meal, and you’ll find a great one at Rosemary Bistro — inside or out.


And while you’re at it, click “follow” on our front page to receive blog posts in your email box.  Or bookmark us and check in from time to time.  If you’re planning a trip, you can “Search” the name of the city, state, or country for good restaurants (in Europe, usually close to sites, like the Louvre or the Van Gogh Museum, that you’ll want to visit in any event).  Comments, questions, and suggestions of places to eat or stories to cover are very welcome.  And check out our Instagram page, johntannerbbq.

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