A desirable corner on the Southwest Waterfront gets a fresh start today as French-themed Bistro du Jour, a catch-all neighborhood cafe for everything from flaky pastries and fresh-squeezed juice in the morning to duck confit and Champagne pours at sunset.
The versatile venture (99 District Square SW) opens Wednesday, November 3, for every square meal of the day, inviting Francophiles to soak up waterfront views while digging into bechamel-blanketed eggs with a gold fork and knife. The new 1,700-square-foot piece of Paris diversifies Knead Hospitality + Design’s dining portfolio on the Wharf, which includes modern Mexican at Mi Vida and wood-fired steaks and martinis at the Grill.
Bistro du Jour, which fills in a sun-drenched corner vacated by homegrown gelato shop Dolcezza, wakes up the Wharf starting at 7:30 a.m. daily with lattes and espresso drinks fueled by La Colombe alongside baked goods and pastries supplied by powerhouse New York City bakery and Knead partner Mah-Ze-Dahr. Its latest D.C. counter introduces the Wharf to turkey and gruyere croissants and all-day quiche Florentine to go along with its beloved sweets like cream scones, brioche donuts, cinnamon rolls, and cheesecakes.
Treeven Dove leads another Knead kitchen following a three-year stint as executive chef at Penn Quarter’s Succotash Prime. For the restaurant group’s first shot at daily breakfast, served 7:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., his composed breakfast dishes play up familiar French and American classics.
A homey plate of any-style eggs comes with a croissant, bacon, and crispy fingerlings, while an order of “Oeufs Sur Le Plat” slathers sunny side up eggs on griddled sourdough with a layer of creamy bechamel sauce. An omelette packed with zucchini, thyme, and goat cheese served with crispy fingerlings sticks around through the night. Hours stretch to 11 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday, and until 10 p.m. on Sunday and Monday.
For a morning sugar fix, there’s brioche French toast with blueberry compote and sweetened whipped cream and a big Belgian waffle that eats up the entire circular plate. Weekend brunch (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) largely mimics its morning menus.
Come lunchtime at 11:30 a.m., a parade of savory starters and mains fit for a French sidewalk cafe join the mix. Bite-sized delights include gruyere cheese puffs, chicken liver mousse-filled raspberry macaroons, and radishes dipped in a whipped brown butter with sea salt. Bibb lettuce with avocado, grapefruit, radish, fennel, and red wine vinaigrette is also a good way to start.
“It’s hard to get excited about salad but something about it is charming,” says Knead co-founder Jason Berry.
Lunch and dinner loop in all the usual suspects, like French onion soup, tuna Niçoise salad, skirt steak frites, a croque madame sandwich dripping with bechamel sauce and gooey gruyere, mussels swimming in white wine and garlic butter, and a double patty cheeseburger “L’Americain” with a special sauce that sounds strikingly similar to the best-selling version at Logan Circle’s French hit Le Diplomate.
A handful of hearty French entrees enter the lineup when dinner hits at 4 p.m. There’s confit de canard (duck leg with green lentil and red wine shallots); coq au vin (braised chicken with bacon, mushrooms, and mashed potatoes); and lamb shepherd’s pie.
To carve out their dream Parisian cafe, Knead worked alongside //3877 to supersize the pint-sized corner left behind by Dolcezza, adding a wraparound, year-round patio for 66 to go along with a 36-seat renovated interior. A bakery, espresso and bubbly bar, and to-go areas all share real estate around a V-shaped counter.
There’s no room for a sit-down bar, so a short spirits list showcases the best of the litter. Grey Goose is the only vodka option, for instance, and the wine list peaks at 60 bottles. That’s a far cry from the inventory Knead is used to at places like The Grill, which offers dozens of vodkas and gins to go along with 300 wines. Options are also aplenty at Penn Quarter’s opulent Succotash Prime and Navy Yard’s cavernous American diner Gatsby.
Booze at Bistro du Jour also includes French aperitifs made in Marseille and classic champagne cocktails like a Kir Royale with Creme De Cassis and an Elderflower Spritz made with St. Germain. A short list of bottled beers stars France’s beloved Kronenbourg.
“Our restaurants are generally behemoths with big menus. It’s been an interesting exercise in playing favorites — like which child do you love the most,” jokes Berry.
To compliment the compact menu with its tiny digs, the owners turned to their favorite, always-packed cafes in Paris for design inspiration.
“We really took attention to every inch of that space — everything is custom,” says Knead co-founder Michael Reginbogin says. “It’s a mix of iconic French design cues with contemporary edge.”
Pops of Parisian flair include mosaic tiled flooring, blush tones, velvet hunter green banquettes, and monolithic stone countertops. To maintain a laissez-faire attitude, the team decided to ditch the pandemic-era idea of ordering via QR codes at table and go with tangible menus.
“Scrolling through menus on cell phones with four people is not [exactly] romantic for a French bistro,” says Berry.