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“A gem in upper NW”

Matisse Cafe Restaurant
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Ranked #829 of 3,216 Restaurants in Washington DC
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $31 - $50
Cuisines: French, Mediterranean, Contemporary
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Special occasions, Business meetings, Romantic
Dining options: Dinner, Lunch, Full Bar, Private Dining, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Waitstaff
Dining style: Casual Elegant
Cross street: Fessenden
Transit: Friendship Heights Metro (Red Line), as well as Tenley AU Metro. Matisse is located in between these two stops. We are located 3 1/2 blocks south of Mazza Gallery.
Los Angeles, California
Level Contributor
11 reviews
9 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“A gem in upper NW”
Reviewed August 12, 2012

Probably the best option for a small, upscale eatery in the far northwest of Washington DC. Matisse is elegant and understated, offers attentive service and plates food that can range from good to excellent. The cuisine is French-inspired but is not terribly distinctive. You're apt to see folks recognizable from the TV news here. It is a welcoming and elegant neighborhood place for regulars who can happily drop $50 a piece for a yummy dinner. And, setting it apart from many nearby places in the same league, Matisse is neither crowded nor loud. You can enjoy both your food and your company.

  • Visited August 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank PrefersPOSH
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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78 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Portuguese first
  • Any
English first
Bethesda, Maryland
Level Contributor
15 reviews
12 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Beyond Expectations”
Reviewed July 23, 2012

I have dined at Matisse many times since it opened ten years ago and have been generally pleased, if not wowed. Saturday night, however, was an exception. Four if us were celebrating a birthday, and despite the fact that an attempt was made to seat us in upstairs Siberia and our requests for a birthday candle were ignored or forgotten, the food was excellent. My summer special watermelon salad was fantastic. The grilled lamb special was cooked medium rare to a T and was excellent. Last, the crime brûlée, while traditional, did not dissapoint. With a fine bottle of Cotes de Rhone and a room full of lively (if elderly) patrons, it made for a wonderful celebration all around.

  • Visited July 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Gmason25
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
53 reviews
38 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
“Neighborhood gem!”
Reviewed July 5, 2012

I have dined at Matisse on a couple of occasions - for dinner and Easter brunch. I thoroughly enjoyed both of my dining experiences. The food was very, very good, the service was great, the atmosphere and ambiance were perfect. It is pretty inside, the staff members are friendly and accommodating. This is a great neighborhood gem!

  • Visited June 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Leslie B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Upper Marlboro, MD
Level Contributor
23 reviews
18 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“Over priced wine and Average Food”
Reviewed June 13, 2012

My wife and I attended a wine tasting dinner here last night. Well, the dinner, except for the interesting company at our table, was a big BUST! All of the wines were owned and produced by the Mouton Rothschild branch of the family and they sent one of the sons who is the Chairman of the Champagne company they started recently and have their name on the bottles. Well, don't waste your time buying any of these nondescript and ordinary overpriced wines. The young Mister Rothschild was educated in England and wears expensive tailor-made Savile Row suits. However, when asked any technical questions about the Champagne, he replied that you would have to ask the winemaker, who, of course, did not come. He was evidently installed by his mother to give him something to do. He was also throwing around statements about their banking interests and sporting activities. The life of the Rich and Famous. Unfortunately, the food was pretty uninspired too.

We drank the Barons de Rothschild NV Brut with two passed canapes (Duck Confit Spring Rolls and Tuna Crudo with mango on a potato chip). The canapes were very salty and very amateurish in their concept. I would expect this level of food in an average pub and not at Matisse. The Champagne was not very fizzy and was pretty nondescript. It was more like a still wine with a light fizz. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't any trip to hollywood. They want $100 for a bottle that shouldn't go for more than $30-$40. We then sat down at the tables.

The first course was a tempura battered soft shell crab on roasted corn and confetti bell pepper with a sauce that reminded of the secret sauce on a Big Mac. By the time they had served this dish, the crab was cold and tough to cut. My wife, a native of New Orleans, said that they should have battered it in corn meal and served it hot. It didn't have much meat on it either. We drank their NV Blanc de Blanc. Again, it was OK but nothing special and they want $130 a bottle for it. They won't get it from me.

The next course was a veal tenderloin with a sauce, roasted potatoes, mushrooms and yellow squash. Boring and just OK. They poured the Chateau Clarke red from 2009. Pretty ordinary, especially coming from a year like 09. The wine is reasonably priced at $30 a bottle and is essentially a Cru Bourgeoise. It was OK with the food, but it is not a wine I just gotta have.

The next course consisted of 3 cheeses that were grocery store quality and tasted pretty much all the same with a swipe of honey, spiced walnuts and nice french bread. We drank their NV Rose Champagne that again was OK but not spectacular. They want $130 a bottle for it and I have had better for less.

We had fresh peaches "first of the season" on a mascarpone cream in a tuile cup. The peaches were tasteless and picked too early. We drank the 2006 Chateau Rieussec Sauternes (also owned by them) that was very minerally tasting and pretty disappointing. This vintage has been rated in the upper 80s or low 90s. They didn't have any of it for sale, but offered the 07 for sale at $90 a bottle for the 750 ml or $50 a bottle for the 375 ml. I am glad I didn't order any of it. It is rated lower than the 06. Too bad the 09 is not available, it is rated at 97-98.

I don't why the Rothschilds thought that they could produce Champagne. That is a whole different animal than the Bordeaux wines they produce well. I think that this cheapens their family brand and will not do well. This is the second time that we have attended a wine dinner here and the results were pretty consistent, Average. The staff was very friendly and the service was very attentive, but the cooking in the kitchen does not step up to the plate. I don't think that we will go there again.

  • Visited June 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Jocko_Rambini
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
123 reviews
80 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 52 helpful votes
“"Bistro" descsribes it”
Reviewed June 2, 2012 via mobile

This is a low-key neighborhood restaurant that serves very good food consistently. It has the atmosphere of a good French bistro. The wine selection is intelligent and reasonably-priced. A colleague in DC is a regular here, and I have been with him several times. Each experience has been good.

Thank Tyger41
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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