Bistro Vivant, McLean, VA

I was the last diner at Bistro Vivant this evening, happily sitting outside, just me, my CD jacket (as reading material), and the parking lot of Langley Shopping Center.

It was a Tuesday, and I knew the staff wanted the heck out of there, so I made it clear to the host that I’d be quick, but he was perfectly gracious, and made me feel welcome.

A healthy, quick meal starting with a glass of 2011 Jean-Marice Raffault Chinon Rosé ($10). I mentioned this above, but it’s worth repeating: Driss Zahidi’s fine cooking works well with a bone-dry rosé – the paler the better – yet the Raffault isn’t really all that pale or dry, but still works well with everything but the darkest of meats on this menu.

There’s a reason French food is the best food in the world: because it is. And it’s so nice, civilized, and genteel to enjoy a glass of wine al fresco, even overlooking a parking lot, with (what surely must be) Panorama bread with fine, salted butter, waiting for the Seared Tuna, Salmon & Lobster ($23) to arrive, cooked with wilted frisée and citrus sauce which could have been orange-based, but skewed its acidity more toward clementines in the treble register. The butter in this dish has its arm around the citrus, and virtually ensures that no bread will remain. Chunks and claws of lobster took the center of the plate, on top of the gorgeous wilted frisée, and flanked by a triangle of three roulades of seared tuna stuffed with irregularly cut salmon, everything knitting together in harmony.

A beautiful, one-course dinner at McLean’s best restaurant. I assume Chef Driss Zahidi was on the line this evening because the cooking was right on the money; if he wasn’t, then that’s better still. I’m batting 3-for-3 at Bistro Vivant, my only complaint being the uncertainty I have about the wine pricing, as it relates to the size of glasses, half-carafes, full-carafes, and bottles – it would be good to title these categories with the number of ounces in each pour.

Thank you to the staff at Bistro Vivant for gracing me with a delightfully peaceful meal. Although I was not out reviewing this evening, this clearly remains as the top restaurant in McLean, and I happily look forward to returning in the future whenever I crave local downscale fine dining without a lot of fuss or jacked-up prices. This is good food, prepared well, and you’ll leave happy and feeling like you just had good value for your money.

And I think it’s beautiful just how many senior citizens were leaving the restaurant this evening, as I sat near the door, watching them being helped to their cars. In a way, it reminds me of Bethesda’s Tragara, a wonderfully accommodating restaurant that I’ve heard we’re on the verge of losing (please say it isn’t so, Claude). I love seeing senior citizens enjoy themselves, and to a person, that’s exactly what they were doing tonight. Bravo.

Keep it up, Aykan – you’ve got yourself a winner on your hands. It’ll never get buzz, but you’re developing quite a loyal clientele who respects you greatly. This is the type of restaurant that could easily survive for thirty years, and I hope it does.

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