Favorites – Bistro Vivant in McLean, Virginia

Bistro Vivant in McLean, Virginia exudes comfort, tradition, authenticity and savoir faire. Oh, how this lively bistro meets my dining expectations and fondly reminds me of my formative teenage years in Europe. UPDATE: This restaurant is now CLOSED.

The chalkboard announces the daily dinner specials at Bistro Vivant (Photo Credit: Bistro Vivant)

My first school trip – sans my own parents – was to Paris and Normandy in France. Let’s not mention that the first “Parisian” meal that we American kids wanted was at McDonalds. A forever thanks to the teachers and other adult chaperones for dragging us kicking and screaming to local French bistros instead. “Try it, you just might like it” was repeated over and over by the adults.

The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

Vividly, to this day, I can still remember the first “real” French meal that I enjoyed in Normandy. A starter of a chicken pate spread on toast, steak frites as main course, then tossed greens with roasted walnut oil vinaigrette (salad AFTER the entree? oh my!!!), and a lovely cheese platter for “dessert.”

A selection of cheeses at Bistro Vivant (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Cheese for DESSERT? Yuck! That’s not what the OTHER kids wanted. As an only child who was used to interacting socially with grown-ups, and wanting to emulate them…I was quite intrigued. While most of the other kids slinked back to their rooms at the hostel to snack on Milka chocolate bars, only one of my classmates, and I, stuck around and sampled cheeses that were nothing like those in the US. Fancy bries, camemberts, bleus. Others with ash coverings. And the BREAD. I could have eaten only those just-baked baguettes smeared with addicting locally-produced butter and been more than satisfied.

A refreshing Kir Royale at Bistro Vivant (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Which brings me back to Bistro Vivant, the real subject of this posting. I had dinner there again with family and friends from Paris recently. The chicken liver terrine, a smooth rich velvety smear on toast, took me right back to Normandy and the 7th grade. I remember the owner’s asking why I’d ordered that starter since the new Fall Menu was ripe with other new options. I’m not sure why…but it was a memorable choice. And a good one.

Chicken liver terrine at Bistro Vivant (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Our French friends live just outside the City of Paris in a town called Chatou. It’s the same town where my mother-in-law grew up. We were excited to take these wonderful people to Bistro Vivant so they could experience “our” Parisian bistro. The Parisian gentleman very much enjoyed his sea bass and pointed out that “the sauce is just as it would be in a Paris bistro.” His wife praised the hazelnut chocolate mousse as a spectacular dessert. Bistro Vivant is authentic!

Sizzling Escargots at Bistro Vivant (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Bistro Vivant’s casual elegant atmosphere is lively and friendly. Outdoor dining in the warmer months offers the closest option in McLean that you will get to real sidewalk bistro dining in Paris. Inside, the restaurant is bright during the daylight with white curtains along the windows contrasting with the dark wood floors. In the evening, the interior is invitingly romantic with enough lighting to read your menu without a flashlight. Of course, the daily dinner specials are colorfully posted on a large chalkboard viewable from every seat in the dining room.

Country Pate with Pistachios at Bistro Vivant (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

The restaurant’s respectable wine list is hand-selected by the owner, Aykan Demiroglu, a worldly and well-educated individual with many successful years in the restaurant business. Chef Driss Zahidi creates authentic bistro plates, each with a special touch. Just listening to Aykan and Chef Driss speak about procuring their high-quality ingredients — regular trips to the local farmers markets to select the best produce, searching for the best piece of meat, sourcing the best dry ingredients possible — validates their passion and love for their restaurant and its offerings.

“Using only the best ingredients from European and Mediterranean markets, and the freshest ingredients from local farmers’ markets, Bistro Vivant brings the authentic taste of France to McLean.” (courtesy Google)

Fresh Produce at Bistro Vivant (Photo Credit: Bistro Vivant)

One of my favorite French wines, not easy to find in my area, is a lovely light dry rose. Bistro Vivant carries a number of rose options for me so that I can get my “fix.” Additionally, I’m partial to the light reds and dry whites offered on this creative and well-priced wine list. Don’t most patrons appreciate the time spent by a restaurant team to pair their food offerings to the wines they are serving? I sure do! Bistro Vivant has a well-stocked bar if you prefer a stronger libation to sip with your meal.

A favorite wine at Bistro Vivant (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

And speaking of service…the wait staff is knowledgable of the menu items, their ingredients, how the dishes are prepared, and certainly can offer recommendations that we know are genuine.

Here’s a small subset of the tasty and authentic French bistro dishes we’ve enjoyed at Bistro Vivant:

Seared foie gras with a cherry and olive sauce (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)
Duck Rillettes with toasts at Bistro Vivant (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)
Summery lobster and crab salad at Bistro Vivant (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)
Succulent Salad Nicoise with Oil-Poached Tuna at Bistro Vivant (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)
Duck Confit over Lentils at Bistro Vivant (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)
Savory Steak Frites at Bistro Vivant (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)
Veal cheeks over polenta (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)
Decadent Hazelnut Chocolate Mousse at Bistro Vivant (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Be sure to stop by and sample the authentic French bistro food at Bistro Vivant! You just might see me there!

Bistro Vivant is located in McLean, VA and offers al fresco dining (Photo Credit: Bistro Vivant)

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