Bistro L’Hermitage: Hidden French Decadence
French elegance minutes from the Occoquan Waterfront
Bistro L' Hermitage is a French restaurant in Woodbridge that illustrates how deceiving looks can be. Walking into the rather simple-looking building nestled amid the Occoquan neighborhoods one actually enters a decadent French experience. Lanterns and candles line the room to create an intimate ambience. The metal torch-like sconces are a work of art. Although the lights could be a bit dimmer as they can take away from the intimacy of the setting. The area I sat in was uncomfortably warm, which could be due to the coziness of the establishment, the low ceilings, a table close to the kitchen or, more likely, a combination of all of these.
The heat was a minor distraction overall though. French music plays in the background. The bathrooms have the feel of a French hotel with granite floors, maroon leather doors, a red sink, baskets of linens and French paintings.
Sitting at a private table in the corner, one can see the entire establishment and still feel like you are in your own little world. A candle burns amidst the many decorations on the table such as glass sculptures or the cone-like bread baskets filled with fanned out sticks of bread.
The wine list is broad and offers wines from around the world including a delightful white wine from Cakebread in Napa, California. The wine list is generally affordable, more so by the glass.
The menu is a bit pricey, but this should be expected from a gourmet restaurant when delicacies such as Foie Gras are offered as appetizers. When eating this delicacy in particular, the perfect bite can be found with a fork full of a bit of the duck, peach and salad.
L' Hermitage excels at presentation. A great example of this is when the waiter pours a pitcher of lobster bisque over a bowl of sherry cream topped with croutons and scallions gently enough so that the heat of the soup bubbles into the sherry. The soup is rich, but not heavy, leaving plenty of room for the main course. The Caesar Salad was a highlight with four individual crisp whole Romaine leaves lined with fresh Parmesan slices, green onions, croutons, pleasant addition of eggs, and white anchovies that are work perfectly with the mixed Caesar dressing.
Seafood is a specialty at the Bistro and the seared scallops do not disappoint. They are perfectly seared and placed around garlic potatoes au gratin. The garlic is strong and the scent arrived well before the dish. Equally powerful is the fishy taste of the Red Snapper a dish whose presentation is delightful as it rests amongst tomato risotto and pesto vegetables.
The dessert menu has many options to suite all tastes, but the crème brulee is recommended with its crisp torched top and warm creamy center topped with fresh fruit to complement and enhance the rich flavor of this culinary staple.
The menu that appeared online the day of my visit, viewable here, was not representative of the menu choices available. Typically, there are daily specials and substitutions are permitted. The restaurant has brunch, lunch, and dinner sessions as well as private dining specials/Prix-Fixe menus. Holidays bring traditional specials such as the Christmas dish of Gateaux Noel.
The restaurant was opened by DC restaurateur, Youssef Eagle Essakl. He is joined by Master Chef Dawn Burkart and Sommelier Thierry Lesparre.
12724 Occoquan Rd
Woodbridge, VA 22192
Tel: (703) 499-9550
Web site: http://www.bistrolhermitage.com/
Lunch: Friday 11:30AM-3:00PM
Dinner: Tuesday-Thursday and Sunday 5:00PM-10:00PM
Dinner: Friday and Saturday 5:00PM-11:00PM
Brunch: Saturday and Sunday 11:30AM -2:30PM