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A year and half after it opened, the owners of Rialto have transformed the Georgetown Italian restaurant into a French place called Maxime. Restaurateurs Ben Kirane, Moe Idrissi, and Joe Idrissi, who are also behind Bodega Spanish Tapas & Lounge and Thunder Burger & Bar, felt Rialto wasn’t fitting with their brand of restaurants. It also never took off the way they hoped. The restaurateurs always intended for Maxime to be their next concept, but rather than find a new space, they decided it would be best to replace Rialto. Maxime, located in the same building the Guards occupied for more than 60 years, opened late last week.
Chef Ryan Fichter, who also oversees the menus at Thunder Burger and Bodega (and was chef for Rialto as well), is behind the food at Maxime. One of the main attractions is steak frites. For $19.95, guests receive a prix-fixe menu including a baguette with salted butter, a mixed green salad, and a half-pound top sirloin steak with fries. Diners can sub in a New York steak or filet mignon or add some foie gras for an additional charge. Broiled Scottish salmon or an assembly of vegetables can also be swapped in for the steak.
Hors d’oeuvres are classically French: escargots, beef bourguignon, and quiche Lorraine. Moules frites are available in entree or appetizer size in eight different flavors. There’s also a French onion soup. The fairly straightforward array of desserts includes standbys like creme brûlée, profiteroles, and chocolate lava cake.
Aside from some martinis and bubbly drinks, cocktails don’t always keep up with the classic French theme. There’s a mojito and a Moscow mule. Happy hour will run daily from 4 to 7 p.m. with half-priced draft beers a discounted bar food menu.
The decor, according to a press release, is “inspired by the French Revolution” with a fireplace and black and white photos on the walls. The restaurant has a 75-seat dining room and a 100-seat private event space. As for the name? Maxime was chosen for its Latin translation as “special.”
See the menu below.
Maxime, 2915 M St. NW; (202) 337-1571; maximedc.com
Photo courtesy Maxime