Star of the Mosaic District’s French Quarter
Perhaps I was destined to become a culinary writer all along. At the age of 12, I was introduced to Le Marché Français in Georgetown and, understandably, fell in love with French cuisine. This lured me to major in French and spend a savory semester studying—and gourmandizing—in Paris and Avignon in the south of France. I became a true Francophile—and needless to say, gastronome.
Every quarter in school, I earned an A in French and was rewarded with a grand visit to a fancy French restaurant with my mom—the ultimate epicurean. Back in the day, before the faintest glimmer of the Mosaic District—in fact even before the Multiplex—there was only one fine French restaurant in Merrifield—the ever-lovely La Guinguette, which long held this distinction and was held in collective esteem.
Fast-forward to today, Mosaic boasts not one but two very respectable and charming patisseries — PastryXpo and Praline Bakery. Neighbor Le Pain Quotidien offers boulangerie fare from its warm hearth, as well as soups, salads, and quiches in a cozy and casual setting of welcoming communal tables.
But, nice as all that may be, the gap was gaping in my view. Decidedly, there was still something missing—until now. No flight required; get ready to be transported.
Parc de Ville
Parc de Ville offers an authentic bistro menu in a brasserie space. The experienced restaurant team that brought the much-acclaimed Chez Billy and Chez Billy Sud to DC has applied their successful formula of a city dining experience to our very own suburban mini-metropolis. It doesn’t just bring the city to the suburbs; it brings Paris to Fairfax. Even the legendary Maxim’s had its origins in the Belle Époque as a bistro.
Situated strategically on the corner of District Avenue and Glass Alley, Parc de Ville establishes a quaint petite French Quarter juxtaposed across from the go-to Belgian croissant and baguette stop Le Pain Quotidien.
Escape the hovering grey skies and glacial chill of an endless winter into a convivial refuge. Quasimoto had Notre Dame. We have Parc de Ville. Step inside to wooden plank floors. Sink into sumptuously upholstered velour booths with sophisticated scroll arms in a beautiful cerulean hue. The word cerulean is derived from the Latin caeruleum, meaning “sky” or “heavens” and caeruleus, “deep blue: resembling the blue of the sky,” following the park-like theme. Black and white botanical wallpaper and white marble tables complete the vintage look. The bar with its floral embroidered wooden stools lends a whimsical air reminiscent of a carousel.
General Manager Nick Hellberg describes their first foray outside the Beltway. “We are thrilled to be able to offer a gorgeously built-out environment—a metropolitan design space that is accessible yet urbane.” And the highly anticipated rooftop wine garden will appear between spring and summer. They even have their own elevator.
He noted that while Mosaic offers a wealth of niche-centric and fast-casual choices in a wonderful range of cuisines, they aim to provide that place where you can relax and enjoy real, sit-down, rustic yet refined French cuisine in an ambience of conversation mingling with music. You can feel a bustling energy in the room—likely even a little clinking from the modern open kitchen.
“The reception’s been incredible—visceral almost. The emotional reactions of our guests about the food and atmosphere have been touching.”
Comfort classics range from Salade Frisée (with signature lardons) and Croque Madame to Soupe à L’oignon Gratinée Lyonnaise, Escargots in a Puff Pastry, and Steak-Frites with a tangy, creamy Bernaise punctuated with tarragon. Nicely briny Picholine Olives with Herbes de Provence, chili, and lemon delectably represent the hors d’oeuvre category and make for a perfect complement to a glass of wine or a beer at the bar, as well as an inviting intro to a regal repast.
Not to be overlooked, the Foie de Volaille, a luscious, velvety chicken liver parfait, is delicately infused with armagnac prune in an aspic gelée. Among charcuterie, Nick describes the house-made paté as “insanely decadent.” Round it out with fromage—Ossau Iraty from the Pyrénées, Bleu d’Auvergne, and Reblochon from the Alpine Savoie.
Unique offerings range from Oeuf en Meurette, duck egg, bacon, pearl onions, mushrooms in a beurre rouge to Boudin Blanc, a truly exquisite house-made pork sausage with potato purée and roasted apple. The Gnocchi Parisienne are heavenly little pillows of butternut squash, sage, and brown butter that all come together wonderfully. A flavor medley, to be sure. Saumon en Croûte ranks as a special-occasion dish.
According to experienced bistro diner and Chez Billy aficionanado Dina Dalipagic, the Trout Almandine was “simply perfect. The crunchiness of the almonds added another element of texture to the crispiness of the trout.” The Côtes du Rhône Grenache made for a surprisingly excellent pairing with both the oeuf dish and the trout.
Parc de Ville’s expert culinary team is headed up by a family of talented chefs—Head Chef Brendan L’Etoile (which interestingly enough means star and is the name of the iconic circle of Arc de Triomphe fame in Paris) and Uncle Laurence di Joseph. Mom Lillian, the pastry chef, turns out an impressively crusty yet airy braided pain d’epi, complemented by her irresistible in-house butter freshly whipped with sea salt. And make no mistake—these are sop-worthy dishes. Astute and witty waiter Eric noted that we might “put the dishwashers out of work!”
French desserts are notorious for their irresistible decadence and Parc de Ville hits the sweet spot with its frothy delicious Mousse au Chocolat with chocolate crumble and freshly whipped cream, and a rich Riz au Lait complete with an unanticipated treat—a translucent, golden, cracked crême brulée topping. For a lighter finish, enjoy the Anjou Pear sorbet with Madeleine. Whether for a polished finishing touch or a dedicated dessert outing, this selection of confections will not disappoint and will inevitably tug at you to return.
Studying in Paris leaves you with a certain wistfulness—an indescribable nostalgia. And a never-quite-satiated desire to return to your favorite corner bistro. In all reality, this yearning never leaves you—until at long last, they bring your new favorite bistro to you—right in your own neighborhood. So close your eyes and savor the flavor. Absorb the essence of elegance, the aura of savoir-vivre. You might just believe you’re in Paris. So, bon appétit!
Parc de Ville
8296 Glass Alley, STE 110
Fairfax, Va 22031