La Bise, which opened its doors to the public on June 18, is a French restaurant that brings modern interpretations to classic French foods with rich blends of flavor. Making its home in the former Oval Room location, La Bise is steps away from the White House on Connecticut Ave. After 25 years as the Oval Room, owner Ashok Bajaj decided to reintroduce the iconic space as La Bise, with a commitment to maintaining its familiar elegance.
The revamped restaurant features a dynamic open kitchen along with two dining rooms, each showcasing its own distinctive style. One dining room has a mirrored wall with striped fabricated banquettes complemented by salmon-colored wallpaper. The second dining room features custom murals of Paris enhancing the feeling of eating in the romantic city.
James Beard award-nominated restaurant-designer Martin Vahtra of Projects Design Associates of New York designed the space. The restaurant art, chosen with the help of an art consultant, includes select art pieces from Bajaj’s home and is meant to mirror La Bise’s memorable French cuisine.
“My goal was always to keep it very sophisticated,” Bajaj says. “But the feel we wanted to create with the menu was the balance between classic dishes and modern dishes.”
Executive Chef Tyler Stout brings experience working in Michelin-starred kitchens following three years at Troquet on South, one of the top French restaurants in Boston, and prior history in D.C. At La Bise, he plans to operate hyper-seasonality and fresh produce. He considers the food to be well-rounded French modernist and technique-driven.
There are a couple of classics on the menu such as Gougères, charcuterie and steak frites, but everything else is completely contemporary and flipped on its head according to Stout.
“There’s just certain proteins that I would never part with. Of course, we keep it seasonal. We change the menu every other week. The staples are going to stay. But the sets always change.”
La Bise is designed to appeal to a variety of culinary tastes, including foodies who love the technical aspects of French cuisine.
“But it’s also approachable in a way that my mother, who eats her meat well done, would be satisfied or those who don’t go out to restaurants much would be satisfied,” Stout says.
A few of Stout’s favorite menu items are the Barbary duck breast with sour cherry, confit leg pressé cannelloni, hakurei turnip and foie gras jus.
La Bise offers a contemporary wine list of French, American and Spanish featuring both Old and New World styles. 110 wines are available by the bottle and 14 wines are available by the glass. There is also a selection of classic cocktails which incorporate French spirits.
Bajaj and Stout are excited for the future of La Bise and its ability to create a comfortable environment for all.
“I want it to be known as a place where you can get great food [and] great service,” Stout says.
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