Co written by Guest Bloggers CAF and “Dr. D.”
France’s showing at the World Cup this year has been described as “a disaster,” “a scandal,” and “unacceptable” … and that was by the French team’s own members and director. Ouch. I’m one of those Americans who enjoys a healthy disdain for France. Dr. D., a more tolerant friend and frequent dining companion, took less delight in the news about the French soccer team’s follies. To stay in his good graces or at least return to the neutral esteem of Dr. D., France needed a big win and fast. Luckily for France, Dr. D. and I looked off the soccer field for French success.
On a sweltering midweek afternoon, Dr. D. and I headed to the Village Bistro on Wilson in Arlington. We had passed this storefront eatery countless times since it shares a parking lot with Ray’s Hell Burger, Pho 75, and Greenberry’s Coffee and Tea, among others. Upon entering, we were greeted by a welcome waft of air conditioning and a friendly bartender who bid us to take the open table of our choosing. A middle-aged woman (the hostess, the proprietor?) hustled to our table to give us menus and a list of specials. She cheerily complimented my dress, a simple navy shift. “Beurre me up all you want,” I thought, “but flattery will do nothing to color my opinion of your country…I mean, restaurant.” While Dr. D. perused the menu, I took in the decor – white tablecloths, vintage French posters, a full bar with shelves painted red. Our waiter came quickly with ice water and crusty bread. He was no less helpful or attentive for us not ordering wine. The effects of the heat were starting to wear off and if my anti-French sentiments hadn’t softened by then, at least my appetite had returned.
We both ordered off the lunch specials menu. Dr. D. opted for shrimp and sea scallop kabobs in a bacon butter sauce served over sauteed spinach and long grain white rice. I ordered the pistachio crusted yellow fin tuna in a white wine and vinegar sauce served with potato cake, asparagus, and bok choy. We were both pleased with our choices. Dr. D. sang the praises of the shrimp and scallops, beautifully cooked and artfully arranged atop the fresh spinach overlaying the rice, with the sauce triggering a wonderful harmony of flavors. My fish came cooked medium-rare, as ordered, with a perfectly nutty crust. The potato cake, browned nicely, was a hearty yet appropriate accompaniment. I had wished there was more sauce or else something else on the plate with a strong enough flavor to cut through the rounder flavors in the nuts, fish, and potato. Nevertheless, I can’t deny that both dishes were “goals” as clean as our plates.
We were too stuffed to sample anything from the dessert menu, which seemed a bit uninspired compared to the rest of the menu. Then again, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and it could be that high quality ingredients and execution would have made the dessert course a winner. More reason for us to return another day. As we stood up, the same woman who greeted us came over to ask whether we enjoyed our lunch. Pleased that we had, she volunteered that the cuisine was special because it was French with Moroccan influences on its seasonings. As we made our way to the door, we turned back to ask her about the chef.
“Oh, there are so many back there in the kitchen,” she said.
“No chef de cuisine or executive chef?”
Finally, some real team players from France.
1723 Wilson Blvd., Arlington
Open for lunch on weekdays 11:30 a.m. to 2:30pm and for dinner seven days a week from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Wheelchair accessible entrance and restrooms