“Jules, if you wanted to spend more time with me all you had to do was call and say: 'Shawn I'm here and I've got pudding pops.'"
-- Shawn Spencer (Psych)
The humorous quote is funny because it’s true. Good food is the medium that brings people together, forms relationships,molds us, and nurtures us but great food transports and inspires us.
Many people have asked me why I have not done a restaurant review in a while and the truth is I had not really found anything that was worthy to share with the DC suburbia crowd…that is until now.
The best meal I ever ate was in Saint Martin in the Caribbean. The French really have this way of treating the evening meal as an event one looks forward to all day rather than as a mere re-fueling of energy. While I am not going to describe that meal,suffice it to say, it consisted of 6 small courses with three tuxedoed Frenchmen at a candlelit table with my husband, set to the ethereal background music of the Caribbean Sea lapping on the moonlit beach below us. Oh, some days, I feel I could write a poem about that meal…. but back to the post at hand.
If DC Suburbia, possessed the ability to hand out gold trophies for great dining experiences, our friends at Bistro L'Hermitage would have received it for their performance at last night’s dinner. Every detail was orchestrated beautifully. Every waiter, busboy,and hostess knew their part so well and gracefully performed each duty above expectation. The owner even whisked in and effortlessly straightened our table – for it was slightly askew -- almost as if on cue and sincerely asked if there was anything additional he could do for us.
Often in restaurants, there is something missing. Sometimes you get excellent service, a clean crisp ambiance, but poor food. Or you might have delicious food but the waiters strike an incongruous note, either through a lack of training or their own undue haste. Or, sometimes the atmosphere is too sterile or conversely too worn out or, even worse, dirty.
Bistro L'Hermitage is a French restaurant in Woodbridge…yes, you heard me right, Woodbridge! Even if you have been a lifetime "inside the beltway" food snob, you can swallow your pride because Bistro L'Hermitage is the 2012 restaurant experience to beat. It is located right outside Occoquan city limits and is right off of Occoquan Road. Make a reservation because weekends and Sunday brunch fill up quickly.
The food was tres´ magnifique. Please don’t ask me to tell you what the French names are, but mine was a lobster tail stuffed with smoked salmon mousse with a Turbot fish duo. My husband had the most amazing dessert that consisted of a moist almond cake smothered in sliced almonds and topped with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. I had warmed Calvados for my dessert at our waiter’s suggestion. Calvados is a brandy, made in the north of France, from apples. The taste is similar to Cognac.
The pictures of our food speak for themselves though I wish I had taken pictures of the people enjoying themselves around us as well. The foursome next to us toasted to their friendship with their cute tiny fluted glasses of the Italian after-dinner drink, Grappa. The husband and wife across the way sweetly smiling at each other while swirling their glasses of Almanac. I would have loved to have captured the middle aged couple enjoying their after dinner Irish coffees with whipped cream, or the wonderful Moroccan woman next to me, savoring her escargot while prattling along beautifully in French to our waiter.
This phrase appears on the menu and seems to be engraved on every soul working there, “Hospitality is the art of making others feel welcome, comfortable, and at home. It is the talent of spreading warmth and kindness that will be remembered always.”
If you want a meal that will transport you across the seas (perhaps to Saint Martin) and a great place to spend more time with loved ones, this bistro fits the bill. Oh, and about the bill, dinner here will run you about $30-$40 a person, a reasonable price to such a great evening.
12724 Occoquan Road, Woodbridge, VA
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