Restaurant Review: Capitol Hill's La Bete

A gorgeous reclaiming of the old Chez Gaudy, with carefully prepared, exceptionally good food.
Allison Austin Scheff  |   January 2011   |  FROM THE PRINT EDITION

If you ever found your way into Chez Gaudy—down the shadowy hallway and through the small rooms decorated in college-rental fashion—you won’t believe how elegant La Bête is.

Against all odds, the same Capitol Hill space that was Chez Gaudy for five years is now beautiful: The long black walnut bar is polished to a warm glow. Wrought-iron accents add elegance. And with so much space between and around the tables, diners may feel spoiled.

Smart choices are apparent throughout the menu of chefs/owners Tyler Moritz and Aleks Dimitrijevic, and there are scene stealers aplenty: a warm, heavenly popover (spiked with blue cheese and onion jam) accenting a velvety kabocha squash soup ($9); sautéed chanterelles playing sidekick to a perfectly poached duck egg and raising the dish to a new level ($12). Moritz and Dimitrijevic compose their plates with artful touches, such as “blueberry” grapes that pop up around spoonably tender beef cheeks ($18).

Even pork rinds ($5)—snap-crackle-popping from the fryer, with pickled shallots to tame the fat—are better than they have any right to be. I’m impressed.

Brunch Sat.–Sun., dinner Tue.–Sat. Capitol Hill, 1802 Bellevue Ave.; $$