Saturday, December 15, 2012

Bistro L'Hermitage

Located in a quaint cottage next to Historic Occoquan, Bistro L'Hermitage is one of the finest French restaurants in the Washington, DC area.  "With tasteful ambience and fastidiously prepared meals", Bistro L'Hermitage offers fine French cuisine prepared by Chef Dawn Burkhart. Long time restaurateur Youssef Eagle Essakl transformed a building and the surrounding property in historic downtown Occoquan into his vision of a French country bistro.  Offering a great escape from the hectic DC restaurant scene, Bistro L'Hermitage promises "relaxed good taste and with the polish and sophistication of fine dining."

Keith and I met my parents here for an early Christmas dinner and were greeted warmly and seated at one of the quaint tables in the crowded dining room.  Adorned with rooster paraphernalia and various French posters along the wall, the French country decor was prominent.  Our server, Don, promptly came over and recited the evening's specials.  We ordered drinks while we took time perusing the menu.  My mother, as usual, had already studied the menu and was excited to try some classic French dishes.  To start she ordered the classic Gratinée des Halles - French onion soup with Gruyere crouton.  It was not as cheesy as she would have liked, but it had nice flavor.  Keeping in the soup vain, Keith ordered the Bisque de Homard - lobster bisque with sherry cream that was poured at the table.  Lacking any lobster meat, Keith was disappointed with his soup as the pungent sherry vinegar was a bit overpowering.  In addition, my mother and Keith shared the Fricasée d'Escargots - a ragout of snails with shiitake mushrooms and applewood smoked lardons.  I tried a piece and did not care for the bland chewy snails.  Keith even commented that he would have preferred a more simple preparation of garlic, butter, and wine.  My father and I split the Tarte d'Aubergines au Fromage de Chevre - an eggplant and goat cheese tart with a salad of arugula, pine nuts, and walnuts on top.  This was by far the star dish of the evening.  I wish I got a better picture to illustrate, but the thick cut slice of eggplant was warm and tender and the goat cheese married well with the spicy bite of arugula and balsamic dressing.  The portion was perfect for sharing too.

For our main courses, my father ordered Le Thon - seared peppered tuna with a medley of fingerling potatoes, Swiss chard, and mushrooms in a tomato chive beurre blanc that he absolutely loved.  I tried a bite of his tuna and it was cooked nicely with great pepper flavor.  My mother ordered the gargantuan plate of Le Jarret D'Agneau - braised lamb shank with white cannellini beans, green beans, and orange carrots in a lamb jus.  The meat was super tender, moist, and melted off the bone.  She loved all the vegetable sides that came with it too, providing more than enough to allow for leftovers.  Keith ordered the Trio of Lamb - which came with lamb chop, shoulder, and sausage, served with polenta and spinach.  Of the three, his favorite was the lamb shoulder as the other pieces were a tad chewy.  I ordered one of the night's specials, Scallops and Shrimp served in a lobster buerre blanc sauce with pureed potatoes and steamed broccoli.  Both the scallops and shrimp were large in size, yet cooked perfectly and were decadent in the rich lobster butter sauce full of chunks of lobster meat.  Keith eyed my dish and immediately stated "hey - that's where my lobster bisque meat went!"  My father also eyed my dish and traded me some of his tuna for a scallop.

By now, I was stuffed yet being a special occasion we had to splurge on dessert.  We ordered three to share: Mousse au Chocolate, Creme Brulée a la Vanille de Tahiti, and Tarte aux Pommes - an apple tart with vanilla ice cream.  All of them were good, but not worth the extra calories.  Overall, service at Bistro L'Hermitage was prompt and professional.  The food was rich with classic French preparation and flavors, and in large portion sizes.  If you are in the Woodbridge/Occoquan area, then Bistro L'Hermitage would be a great place for your next special meal.

Total Rating: 3.95
Food: 4, Price: 4, Service: 5, Ambience: 3, Accessibility: 3

What I ate:
Tarte d'Aubergines au Fromage de Chevre
eggplant and goat cheese tart with arugula 

Scallops and Shrimp Special
served in a lobster buerre blanc sauce with pureed potatoes and steamed broccoli

Mousse au Chocolate

Creme Brulée a la Vanille de Tahiti

Tarte aux Pommes
apple tart with vanilla ice cream

Plus others ate:
Gratinée des Halles
French onion soup with Gruyere crouton

Bisque de Homard
lobster bisque with sherry cream

Fricasée d'Escargots
ragout of snails with shiitake mushrooms and applewood smoked lardons

Le Thon 
seared peppered tuna with medley of fingerling potatoes swiss chard,
and mushrooms tomato chive beuree blanc


Le Jarret D'Agneau

braised lamb shank with white cannellini beans, green beans, melting orange carrots & lamb jus

Trio of Lamb
(chop, shoulder, sausage)
served with polenta and spinach
Bistro L'Hermitage on Urbanspoon

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