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“An Old Town treasure, but with a problem” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Le Refuge Restaurant

Le Refuge Restaurant
127 N Washington St, Ste C, Alexandria, VA 22314-3176 (Old Town)
703-548-4661
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Ranked #4 of 596 Restaurants in Alexandria
Certificate of Excellence
Cuisines: French
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Restaurant details
Good for: Special occasions, Entertaining clients, Romantic
Dining options: Dinner, Lunch, Late Night, Reservations
Neighborhood: Old Town
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Top Contributor
489 reviews 489 reviews
172 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 139 cities Reviews in 139 cities
512 helpful votes 512 helpful votes
“An Old Town treasure, but with a problem”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 27, 2013

As someone who has written so many reviews of restaurants around the world, I feel I have missed an opportunity by not going to Le Refuge, which is only a few blocks from where I live until recently. With a senior level U.S government official visiting me from overseas who speaks fluent French and lived in France for five years, I thought I would show off what others had told me is a true treasure in Old Town: Le Refuge.

It is as others have described in their accounts: a delightful French bistro, cozy and authentic, right in the heart of Old Town. The menu presents choices for all palates, the atmosphere is wonderful for intimate conversation or group gossip, and the wine list provides plenty of choices.

Now for the problem, and for me it was inexcusable and embarrassing. We reserved for a Saturday evening at 8pm. When we arrived, there was no table available. The restaurant is so small there is no waiting area, so we had to stand in the tiny entry as waiters who were serving people outside came in and out. It was truly uncomfortable. After twenty minutes in the doorway, they put together a makeshift table for us near the kitchen. After another twenty minutes, we were finally seated.

What I found particularly alarming was that there were no apologies, no complementary drinks offered....nothing. It was as if this normal for a Saturday evening, and perhaps it is.

With this in mind, I would urge that those who wish to come to Le Refuge on a weekend, especially if you are more than a couple, reserve for either early or late. Peak hours are clearly a problem for them and there is simply no spill over area, no bar, no lounge, no waiting area.

I regret I must write this, but I am always honest in my reviews, whether they relate to hotels, restaurants or attractions. I don't see how I can return to Le Refuge after this experience. Old Town has so many choices of excellent restaurants, and I will continue to provide reviews as I sample as many of them as I can.

  • Visited August 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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187 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • Portuguese first
  • Any
English first
Washington, DC
Contributor
18 reviews 18 reviews
11 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
“A little corner of Paris in Old Town”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 18, 2013

I have been going to Le Refuge for years and am never disappointed. The food is reliably delicious and the atmosphere is charming. The rainbow trout has a delicate flavor and their daily specials are always good. It is a small intimate place--good for a romantic evening or just a quiet place to go with friends.

  • Visited August 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Randolph, New Jersey
Top Contributor
75 reviews 75 reviews
31 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 28 cities Reviews in 28 cities
40 helpful votes 40 helpful votes
“Wonderful food, great wine”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 18, 2013

This lovely little French bistro offered a variety of French foods in a cozy setting. I greatly enjoyed my soft shell crab and my husband's duck with raspberry sauce was superb. Service was friendly.

Visited August 2013
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silver spring, md
Top Contributor
308 reviews 308 reviews
235 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 78 cities Reviews in 78 cities
87 helpful votes 87 helpful votes
“A Very Nice, Romantic Little French Restaurant”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 17, 2013

Went with my wife and a couple of friends recently and we all were pleased with the place. The ambiance is charmingly French - cluttered and romantic. The service is attentive and friendly. The food is very, very good. One of my friends and I shared appetizers - stuffed mushroom caps and clams casino - and both were really tasty. My wife had three small servings of different soups (one was gaspacho) and she enjoyed having a taste of each. For dinner my wife and I both ordered the coquilles St. Jaques - here, scallops in a wine broth - and it was really quite good. We shared the creme brulee for dessert and both thought it very nice. The prices are quite high, but it's really a great place to go for any special occasion (they do a nice birthday celebration, if you desire it).

  • Visited July 2013
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Eldon, Missouri
Top Contributor
72 reviews 72 reviews
32 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 32 cities Reviews in 32 cities
37 helpful votes 37 helpful votes
“Perfect on every feature”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 16, 2013

The waiter was so attentive and efficient. He was a professional and very efficient, but yet he was still very pleasant. The wait staff spoke French to each other and the décor was French. So ambiance was perfect. Now to the food. Perfect! Of course the waiter understood the gluten issue and filled me in right away about what was best for that diet. He understood the situation perfectly which is a rare find indeed. We almost didn't want to leave, but felt we needed to give others the opportunity. It is a small restaurant so very intimate but very busy. Very relaxing and enjoyable! Oh, and Perfect!

  • Visited July 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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