With an old friend of my mother's coming in via rail from Baltimore for breakfast and a bus tour my sister, aunt, and I were left to explore the early morning of our last day in DC together. Wanting a quick but not substantially large breakfast we decided to stop by Bistro Bis - largely because of the solid reviews, but also because it was a convenient walk to the Capitol building. Arriving around 7:30am we made our way into the deceivingly small entrance to find a large expanse of a dining room - many tables with suited clients reading the paper, drinking coffee, or talking business. Greeted by a pleasant hostess we were escorted to an enormous booth towards the back of the restaurant where we had a nice view of the kitchen - though not much was going on.
Seated for only moments before our server arrived, a friendly enough chap named Moises, menus were presented - a significantly truncated menu compared to that of the online Brunch menu. Inquiring whether the Croque Madame was available I was told "no, that is only offered on the weekend and it is A-MAY-ZING." Disappointed but understanding I looked for a suitable replacement and in the mean time ordered a coffee while my aunt and sister opted for tea. Returning moments later with our drinks, a decent albeit forgetable house blend and a box of designer teas, orders were placed and we sat and listened to the lowkey background of a large party discussing local school legislation.
Waiting less than 20 minutes before Moises would return with our breakfast selections I will note that the ancillary staff at Bis was quite good - coffee and water remained full without need for request and all tables appeared well staffed. When Moises did return with our dishes they were presented nicely and everything looked fresh – but pricey and boring for the price. For myself, the most unique option of the trimmed menu, a “Bakery Basket” featuring a miniature croissant, a smaller yet apple Danish, and a slice of cinnamon gingerbread approximately 1/2 the size of a deck of playing cards. Accompanying the breads were a whipped butter, Orange Marmalade, Strawberry Rhubarb jelly – the jellies were quite good.
For my aunt and sister – A waffle with bacon and sourdough French toast, respectively. At $18 and $14 these selections were honestly no better than Denny’s. Sure, the ingredients were likely better and the setting nicer, but for $32 I truly do believe I could have made better at home.
In the end, our bill with tip was $61 – outrageous for the quality and quantity of the food. I realize there is something to be said about location, but there is also something to be said about “bang for your buck” and in that sense Bistro Bis was severely lacking.