Chez Billy, the latest project from the prolific Hilton brothers, opened up in Petworth almost two weeks ago as a high-profile addition to a growing neighborhood. In these weeks, Chez Billy has sparked some interesting debate over gentrification, the restaurant's own price point and whether the food is, in fact, worth it. Without further ado, here's a look at what the early diners are saying.
The Good Gentrification News: Pretty much every review of Chez Billy seems to hint at the gentrification of Petworth, including from this Yelper: "My fiance and I had dinner at Chez Billy last night, and it was delightful! We're happy to have a French restaurant in Petworth, and while it's true, you'll pay a little more here than at some of the other restaurants gentrification has brought to the area, the quality of food and overall dining experience are much better, too. It's well worth it. You definitely get what you pay for. The restaurant is lovely, and the staff is knowledgeable and attentive." [Yelp]
The Prince of Petworth Commenters News: There's a 113-strong comments thread following a PoP post of Chez Billy's menu featuring quite the debate on its price point. While some write that if they can't afford those prices and would have preferred more of a neighborhood restaurant, others insist there's room for a pricier dining option in Petworth. Still others would like to point out all of the French spelling errors on the menu. Oops. [PoP]
The Food Critic News: The City Paper's Chris Shott files a review with strains of PoP commentariat: "In helping create vibrant, dynamic nightlife where little of it existed previously, they’re making D.C. a more attractive place—and probably growing our tax rolls, too. That’s at least part of what you’re paying for when you order that overpriced steak frites. But while it may earn the Hiltons a medal from the mayor, it’s cold comfort when you leave a restaurant feeling less satisfied than either the ambitious aesthetics or up-market check would suggest. The Hiltons' sit-down diners deserve as much as barroom patrons or their economic-development partners." [WCP]
The Rave: This Yelper loves Chez Billy so much they're willing to take down Michel Richard in the process: "Damn. This place makes Central look like the red-headed stepchild. I still can't believe how good my meal was. I split the rabbit mousse and it had a delicious lavender honey and brioche toasts - the server was kind enough to bring out more toasts when we still had some pate left over. I had the pork loin with green lentils - the pork was a perfect medium and well seasoned - and I thought I would have enough left over, that is until I ate the whole darn thing. The green lentils were perfectly cooked as well - not an afterthought of mush. My friend had an amazing steak with a divine Bearnaise that had some serious accents of fresh tarragon-in a good way(not in a packet mix bottomless brunch kinda way...) The chocolate pot de creme was divine. I would haul myself back to this place anytime. This is real french food and it didn't cost a fortune--possible in dc?!?" [Yelp]
The Great News: One Yelper had pretty much only good things to report about the food at Chez Billy: "The meal itself was magnificent. Our cocktails were more strong than subtle, but they certainly were interesting. The bone marrow and lamb sausage were excellent; the vichysoisse the best I've ever had. Deliciously creamy. The chicken, though rather smaller than hoped, was crisp and succulent. Our profiteroles were also very fine, particularly the rich, fresh chocolate sauce." [Yelp]
The Good Design News: Brightest Young Things stops in for a first look and likes the design of the space: "The one thing we're particularly jazzed about interiors wise are the little booth style bar seats for two, perfect for that time when you don't necessarily want a table but you also don't want to fight the cocktail masses at the bar while reaching for your charcuterie plate. A genius move, in our opinion (especially since the charcuterie plate doesn't look like something we'd particularly like to share with anyone)." [BYT]
The Popularity-Is-Inevitable News: TastingTable adds Chez Billy to its shortlist of restaurants, writing, "It’s only a matter of time before Petworth’s new bistro is as busy as its siblings, Marvin, American Ice Co. and Blackbyrd. Until then, visit for spring-y cocktails, steak frites and garlicky mussels." [TT]