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Bistro La Bonne

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Bistro La BonneBistro La Bonne
9 Ratings
Bistro La BonneBistro La Bonne

Type: Bar, Eatery

1340 U St NW
Washington, District of Columbia, 20009-7541
United States

(202) 758-3413 | map

Formerly Axis Bar And Grill.

Added by mikedolan03 on 02-22-2007

View: Place Reviews | Events
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 9 |  Reviews: 8
Photo of CB2maltygoodness
4.25/5  rDev +14.9%

Photo of rdanegge
2.6/5  rDev -29.7%
vibe: 3 | quality: 2.5 | service: 2 | selection: 3 | food: 3

I was disappointed with this place.

I went by before a show at the near-by 9:30 club and was looking for a few decent beers and a snack. The write up on Beeradvocate made it seem like a good spot to try, and their website suggested a much better beer selection than the typical local dive.

The seating area as nice enough, with about 3/4 of the bar-stools occupied at 6:15 PM on a Th night. I'd have preferred things a little more lively.. perhaps some music... but we got to listen to the self-professed "regular" hit on the girl sitting next to him. (meh..)

My Founders Centennial Ipa was as it should have been. It was on-tap and tasted fresh, so this was above par for selections in a typical DC bar. I also ordered one of the open-faced sandwiches, which was pretty good.

My non-beer-loving companion had arrived 5 min before me and was nursing a konigsberg when I got there. She asked me to try it because she "wasn't sure it was quite right." Well, besides being totally warm and flat, it had a strong vinegar taste. This wasn't just a problem with slightly skunked euro-lager, or tap lines that needed a little more attention, this was a BAD beer.

After a few minutes of trying, we managed to flag down the bartender, who replaced the beer with a bottles Amstel. No "sorry" or anything like that though. She had also asked for a glass of water. When the Amstel came back.. no water. "Great; thanks. Could I get some water when you get a chance?" (attempt #2). Five minutes later, my beer was empty and I order another "Could she get that water too..? (attempt #3). The beer comes back.. no water. "Ah... how about that water..?" (attempt #4)

I'm good with relaxed bartenders, or folks who have a hard time juggling requests on a busy night... but this was not a busy night.

Other reviews mention the all-French staff. I've spent time in France and, by our standards, the service sucks. Well, our bartender sucked by French standards

Bad beer; crappy service; no real atmosphere... We gave up an left.

I'm not saying that you need to avoid the place completely... you get an occasional skunked beer or encounter a bartender who is having a bad day at any bar,.. but the U St corridor has lots of places that are way better. Neither the beer section nor atmosphere make this a must-visit for folks on this site, looking for good places to try.

Go elsewhere

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Photo of mi6234
4.1/5  rDev +10.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 3 | food: 4.5

I really like this place for the food more than the beer. They have a really great happy hour special. Mussels and a beer for $15 which you really can't beat. The mussels are massive and there are a tonne of them. The come with awesome fries and bread. My girlfriend and I can hardly finish one bowl together.

Also during happy hour all drafts are $4. Not a great selection but they have Bacchus, Raging Bitch and Arrogant Bastard , all of which I'm happy to drink for $4. They never change their taps though.

The staff is really friendly and I'm kind of surprised that only French people seem to work there. Not sure how that happens in this town but whatever.

The rest of the food is awesome and super reasonable for what it is. I love French food and to be able to get the classics for under $20 is just great in this town.

Highly recommended for happy hour or dinner but don't come here specifically for the beer.

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Photo of macpapi
3.63/5  rDev -1.9%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

Have been to this place on two different occasions, both Saturday nights. Most recent visit on May 30.

Located on the U Street restaurant/bar corridor, a pretty bustling area on weekend nights. Upon entry to the Axis there is a relatively long bar on the left. Seats around 25 patrons. One t.v. at each end, tuned to whatever sporting event takes precedent that night. Walking further, there are several dining tables in the back of the room and another upstairs seating area as well. They manage to get quite a bit of seating in such a small place. Mood is pretty friendly and normal for a bar. Somewhat dimly light, not too noisy. This place has a bit of a sports vibe, but not overly so. Happily not too uptight, pretty casual. Did not feel at all out of place wearing a t-shirt and baseball hat. A definite perk in D.C.

Service has been good both times I've been in. Timely taking orders, always ask about refills when you are near the bottom, but do not give the impression of being rushed. Do a good job answering questions about beer selection as well.

There are twelve taps. Three are Euros: Guinness, Eggenberg Pils, and Weihenstepahner Hefeweizen. The other nine are all high quality American craft beers. Three Bell's on draft (Amber, Oberon, and Two-Hearted.) Four Stone handles (Arrogant Bastard, Levitation Ale, Smoked Porter, and Russian Imperial Stout). Also Troeg's Hopback Amber and Dogfish 60 Minute. All of these beers except the Stone RIS are served in large mugs (guessing 20-22 oz.) for $6.50 a pop. That is a great value for D.C. The RIS was served in a tulip glass for the same price. Not much of a bottle selection, though they did have Founder's Double Trouble. In all, for the limited number of beers, this is a really good selection.

Food is also good and reasonably priced. Catfish sandwich and fries for $8.50 and very tasty.

Overall, the Axis is a worthy beer stop if you are travelling to U Street. Right across the street from the Saloon and around the corner from Cafe St-Ex, this is a pretty good part of town to enjoy quality brews.

 2,076 characters

Photo of functionology
4/5  rDev +8.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

I've been by this place a few times now, and it's on my "rotation" for whenever I'm in DC.

For a restaurant / bar this small, the tap selection is pretty solid. The focus is towards the strong ales and other high ABV beers, which is fine by me. I'm from San Diego, and to see *four* Stone beers on tap, including the RIS, was a treat. Even better, I paid a scant $6 for the RIS, which is roughly the same price as one would find in San Diego. Not bad! They also had 3 taps on from Bells; everything seemed craft / micro except for the obligatory Guinness.

The food menu ranges from "bar food" -- burgers, wings -- to slightly more upscale comfort dishes: I heard several customers raving about the risotto, and I was sorely tempted to try the tuna. Alas and alack, I opted for the chicken sammich. For $10 (including bacon and swiss), it hit the spot.

The service was friendly and eager to talk about the various beers. I've been fortunate enough on all my visits to hit Axis during lull-ish hours, so I cannot speak towards how it fares during busier hours. Anywhere I can get 3 great craft beers and a mighty filling sammich for $28, which is fine by me.

 1,159 characters

Photo of glid02
3.84/5  rDev +3.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Made my way down here from Adams Morgan during my recent stay.

Atmosphere is pretty cool. It's got a slightly industrial feel from the exposed brick walls, but it's also kind of modern feel from the tables and layout. The bar extends about halfway into the place with tables in the back and an upper level with more seating overlooking the bar. There's a giant TV over the bar where I watched one of the greatest baseball playoff comebacks in history (Sox Rays game 5).

Quality is up for debate. All beers were served in room temp. glassware, but the glassware was all mugs. I only ordered Bells Best Brown so it made sense, but I'd be interested to see if they served the Expedition Stout in one of those big boys. Pours were good - full and with a good amount of head.

Service was good. I didn't have an extended conversation with the tender, but we were waited on and served quickly.

Selection was solid if not great. Around 15 taps and no bottles that I saw. The beers were all micros except for Guinness, although there was nothing that I didn't see in other places around the area. DFH Punkin and Troegs Dead Reckoning I believe were two others on the menu (I believe), and you'll be able to find something good.

The prices were a bit above average, and I'm not sure that the mugs held any more than an average pint glass.

Overall this is a pretty good place to end up. It was a lot less crowded than Saint Ex (right up the street), where I popped in before heading over, so it depends what kind of mood you're in. Worth a stop.

 1,542 characters

Photo of alysmith4
3.48/5  rDev -5.9%
vibe: 2 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3

This place was strangly good.. I met some guys that were on their way there and they invited me and my friends to join. I hadn't even heard of the place, and once I saw where it was - I realized that I had passed it by many times before without ever noticing it was there.

The bar is a bit oddly laid out.. only enough room for a long bar and some stools and not much room for anything else. The selection was great though.. they had all microbrews on tap and a few really good ones in bottle. I had trouble deciding, and the very friendly bar-tender let me sample a couple before I made my final decision.

This place doesn't look like much from the outside, but it is definitely a place that I would recommend.

 713 characters

Photo of NeroFiddled
3.53/5  rDev -4.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5

The U Street area has been growing, and there are some really interesting little shops and restaurants there. Axis seems to fit right in, but it's more of an upscale kind of place with exposed brick walls and a slick European look. It doesn't seem at all like a "bar and grill", nor does it really feel like a "beer bar". A wine bar or bistro perhaps. The ethnic, dance/"club" music that they were playing certainly helped with that.

That said, let's talk about the beer first. 15 taps, no bottles. Pretty decent selection. I'm not sure how often it changes, but I was fairly impressed given what I'd seen at other bars in the area. Guinness was the only really common beer, but most of what they had was kind of mainstream for beer drinkers. I think they're still catering to the cross-over crowd. Let me explain that... I was pleased to see Breckenridge, but it was just the Pale Ale. And they had a North Coast beer, but it was the Red Seal. Anderson Valley? Yes, but it was the Boont Amber. However, they did have Avery Old Jubilation, which was great! And Eggenberger Pils is also unusual. And since every bar needs to offer a pilsner no one can complain about that - at least there's no macro crap! So they pretty much have all the bases covered style-wise, and they also have Blackthorn cider which is a nice change of pace. So all in all, a pretty decent selection. But as previously mentioned, all of the beers are served in a chilled, handled "beer mug"... the kind my father used to drink out of!!! I wouldn't have minded if I'd ordered the Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, but it just felt weird drinking a Weihenstephan hefeweizen out of it. I think it's a 12 ounce glass, and I'm kind of used to getting a big tall one for the same price.

The service that I received at the bar was not good. It wasn't busy, but the bartender seemed more interested in cleaning up and talking to the server than paying attention to me and my date.

I didn't try the food because we didn't find anything that really caught our attention, but it seemed a little pricey. Of course I can't really make that conclusion without actually having seen it. And it is DC, after all, so I'm going to call the value "reasonable" for food, but the beer mugs at regular price definitely puts them in the "a bit pricey" category.

Overall I'd suggest that you might want to stop in and see if you're interested in possibly having dinner, but for a better bar atmosphere there's a place called Cafe St. Ex just two blocks away that's much more fun.

 2,529 characters

Photo of shivtim
3.83/5  rDev +3.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5

A small, narrow bar with high ceilings and brick walls. Nice loft area in the back. It's well lit and lively, and darkens a bit around 8PM or so. There's 15 beers on tap, ranging from Bell's Oberon to North Coast Old Rasputin (with a Dogfish Head and Breckenridge thrown in for fun). It's a decent selection, maybe a bit small, but varied enough to find something you'll like. All of the beers are served in a handled mug, which is a bit odd. I'd say about half the people tend to order the beers, so it's not exactly "beer-bar-ish." Service is quick and efficient. The food is pretty good, it's bar food but nicer and maybe healthier.
Overall, it's worth a brief stop if you're on U street to hit Bohemian Cavern and the Saloon.

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Bistro La Bonne in Washington, DC
Place rating: 3.7 out of 5 with 9 ratings
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