Location: Cleveland Park
Cuisine: French Bistro
Nearest Metro: Red Line Cleveland Park metro stop
I've lived in Cleveland Park for the past 2 years and walk past this restaurant almost daily. Lavandou is a rustic French looking bistro painted with oranges and yellows. When it's warm outside the windows in the front are open and inviting. The easel that sits outside the door invites you in with their daily specials, the one that stands out to me is the Tuesday special - $16.99 for all you can eat Mussels, prepared one of three ways. Finally I rounded up my roomie, her sister and a friend to try out this neighborhood icon that looks as if it should be housed on street with a brick road. The hostess and waiter were wonderful, they were patient, uber friendly, and very helpful in guiding us in our decision making. The waiter brought out bread that we devoured mercilessly. We chose a couple of appetizers, and what would a French dinner be if you did not order the Escargot Beurre d'Ail. There was plenty to go around. The sauced that housed these lovely little snail edibles was quite good, not too salty, not too bland, just right. The ratatouille was good, nice and hearty. I decided to go ahead and try out the L'Assiette de Frommage (assorted cheese plates). Although I'm not quite sure which cheeses were actually on the plate, they were pretty good (I think it was 3 or 4 different cheeses), I do know there was a brie that I just couldn't stop eating. The cheeses varied in flavor from the very salty to the more subtle. Being that everyone at the table decided to go ahead and order the all-you-can-eat mussels, I went ahead and tried the Jaret d'Agneau au Romarin (lamb shank in a rosemary sauce and pasta) which was great it wasn't overwhelmed with the flavor or the sauce and the meat was cooked perfectly. The mussels came in a variety of sauces (Provencale, pices et Basillique, and Safran et creme) I would have to say the Safran et Creme was THE best. The Basillique was okay but wasn't necessarily favored by the table.
I would have to say that this place is nice for getting together a few friends to grab a couple of glasses of wine and enjoy some nice homemade (the food was pretty fresh I must say), or even to go on a table and pretend that you are at a bistro on the French Riviera. The ambiance takes you out of DC and takes you to France and encompasses the nice things about France. I definitely would recommend at least checking it out once (suggesting that you go on Tuesday for the All-You-Can-Eat mussels, but if you want to take advantage of it stay away from the appetizers and go straight for the mussels, because they will really fill you up)