Despite the sumptuous surroundings, service here is warm and friendly, taking pains to explain the menu and make worthwhile suggestions.
The list of champagne cocktails is enticing, but sometimes nothing beats a well-made Kir Royale -- mixed perfectly here, it’s neither too sweet nor too dry.
The mussels are one of the few entrée-sized items on the menu, but they can also be ordered in an appetizer portion.
Good to Know
French movie nights are held the last Wednesday of every month, and happy hour specials are available weekdays from 5:30 to 7:30pm, when half-price champagne cocktails, beers and wines are offered.
Valet parking is available in front of the restaurant Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 5:30pm to 1am for $10.
The restaurant has outdoor seating, a champagne bar downstairs and the capacity to host private parties for up to 160 guests.
Duck and Foie Gras Sausage
French Fries with Herbed Mayonnaise
The family that owns Napoleon Bistro is Afghan-American and the chef is Nigerian, yet it’s not unusual to sit at one of the marble-topped tables in the heart of Adams Morgan and notice that several people around you are speaking French.
That’s in part because the owners are Francophiles themselves -- and also because of a clientele that’s attracted by the sometimes-authentic, sometimes-playful French dishes coming out of the kitchen.
The décor is less French bistro than French boudoir, with a dramatic red, black and gold color scheme, chandeliers and velvet curtains with tassels. A jaunty strain of jazz floats through the room, which also sports tin ceilings painted gold, exposed brick and big windows that look out onto the street.
But this restaurant isn’t about form over substance; all that flash is well-matched by a kitchen that delivers.
Chef Yomi Faniyi makes amazing French classics like comforting, nutmeg-spiked potatoes gratin, steamed mussels and crispy fries with herbed mayonnaise. He also turns out dishes with his own stamp on them, such as elegant plates of house-made duck and foie gras sausage (which is outstanding) or salmon encased in pastry, served over a saffron-hued pool of grapefruit-ginger buerre blanc. A beautifully plated avocado salad with tomatoes and hearts of palm, dressed with a light lemon oil, is a great way to cut through all the richness of the other dishes.
The menu features an abundance of small plates, but there are a few entrée-sized dishes on the regular menu as well as some daily specials -- which can include options like kangaroo or wild boar -- that feed heartier appetites.
This is a place where you’ll want to try a bit of everything on order, so grab an army of friends and commandeer a table at this transporting neighborhood spot.
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