Axis on U Street Becomes Bistro La Bonne


Well this is completely wild. I had no idea that Axis Bar & Grill closed (their Web site is still working) at 1340 U Street, NW. Thanks to a tweet from @FrenchTwistDC indeed Bistro La Bonne has opened up in that space. Their Web site says:

“U Street finally has its own bistro! Chef Daniel La Bonne has long desired to create a French bistro with his personal touches, and Bistro La Bonne is his latest creation and personal vision. Chef Daniel has set a successful track record in opening and running several restaurants and bistros which earned 2.5 to 3 stars from the Washington Post and a place in the highly regarded Washington Post Dining Guide…

Chef Daniel invites you to join him in this comfortable and popular establishment. The delectable menu and accessible wine list should please anyone who walks into this homey bistro. Chef Daniel prepares menus for the brunch, lunch, dinner, and late night crowds. Chef Daniel La Bonne and the friendly staff will make your visit a quality neighborhood experience.”

You can see their menu here. I think this is great news. Will anyone miss Axis? Do you think a Bistro is a good fit for U Street?

32 Comment

  • That was quick. Now can we get a place that has a decent lunch for under $10?

  • I love(d) Axis. Amid the craziness of U Street, it was one of the few places you could sit down for a quiet drink. My friends (and sometimes even my dates) would usually end up there.

    I’m sad to see it go. Thanks for the tip.

  • We are very sad to see Axis go! Totally loved it there– had a great beer menu, pretty tasty food (artichoke dip!), and was always quiet (hmm, maybe that turned out to be a bad thing in the end)…

  • This was my favorite bar on the street. Tonight is a sad night.

  • I saw the signs change over Xmas weekend and wondered what was going on. I find the change encouraging: (1) this establishment, unlike Axis, appears to be a bona fide restaurant and not merely a place to guzzle beer; (2) it’s refreshing to see a place called “Bistro” that actually offers a traditional bistro menu (at reasonable price points); (3) the website indicates the chef was previously the chef at Wazuri. In the early ’00s, Wazuri occupied the space that had been and is currently used by Straits of Malaya. It served good food (and got great notices from the Post), but its upscale West African menu was not successful at attracting the Lauriol Plaza overflow crowd.

  • What does “late night” entail?

  • I’m very sad to see Axis go as well. It was refreshing to have a place on U St where you could go and have a drink with a friend without having to deal with all the crowds.

    Does anyone know why they switched? Were they not doing well?

  • I’m very sad to see Axis go. It had a great draft beer selection, and as others have noted, it was a calm amid the storm that has become U Street.

  • I loved AXIS though it was always empty so I’m not surprised. We went in 2 nights ago hoping for our usual, and were surprised by the new menu, etc. I hope they market the place better than they did AXIS.

  • Axis was great. Very sad to see it go. The Spicy Chicken Penne was great, as was the Chopped Salad and Spinach Dip. The beer selection at Axis was top notch as well. It was really one of the best places on U street because it was locals—sort of like a better Saloon—and did everything it should: good food, good beer, good prices, no pretension, reliable. Very sad to see it go, very sad.

  • That’s a very ugly awning. Incredibly ugly. I would never choose to go in there if I was walking down the street; reminds me more of a jumbo slice / pizza delivery place than a bistro.

  • Probably not similar place to it, but claiming to be the only Bistro there while only being a block from Ulah BISTRO seems glaringly erroneous

    • It looks like Bistro La Bonne is going to be the real deal though and the other will be Ulah “Bistro.” I’ve liked Ulah the times I’ve went, but I believe it’s run by some Tunisians and does not specialize in French food.

  • “I think this is great news.”

    I don’t get you PoP. Why? Because its new? Because you love bistros? Because a loved local business has gone under?

    • Prince Of Petworth

      Good point, I should’ve explained better. I’m very excited about a French Bistro. I know a friend of mine is very sad to lose Axis, so I didn’t mean to celebrate their closing. Rather I was excited about a French Bistro. I should’ve phrased it differently.

  • The only reason to go to Axis is that it was always empty so you could find a seat, and there was a reason it was always empty. I can’t believe how long it stayed open, honestly.

    • Would you care to share those reasons? I personally thought their beer selection was amazing, their food was pretty decent, and their head bartender was one of the friendliest and most knowledgeable that I’ve met in DC.

  • There is also 1905 and Marvin. While neither is “on” U street, everyone considers them to be part of the U Street Corridor, and I bet the menu at this new place (can’t see it; their website isn’t working) is going for a similar menu.

  • This stinks! I loved the atmosphere, food, and drinks at Axis. What a shame.

  • Honestly, when you walk in there you can barely tell a difference. Same great staff. Same great beer selection. Same crowd. There are some cosmetic changes and the menu is different, but the soul of the place is very much intact.

  • I for one am very sad to see Axis go – they had good food, great beers and a wonderful atmosphere. After testing out the new bistro a few times I won’t be coming back despite my affinity for the staff – food is more expensive and the beer selection is already changing.

    I’ve been told by the manager that they hope to make it more of a restaurant and less of a bar – which seems a bit odd for the space and the remaining clientele.

    For the record, it didn’t close because it wasn’t making money – Axis did well and had a loyal group of customers, especially on weekend nights. It’s still owned by the same people but Daniel La Bonne to come in as a partner which was the reason for the change.

  • So sad to see Axis go! Beer selection was great and their ribs were a very surprising find…so good and so meaty!! I liked the calm atmosphere, although often felt TOO empty, where it was almost awkward to be the only 2 people in there NOT sitting at the bar.
    Again, sad to see it go. I’ll try the bistro, but my heart won’t truly be in it.

  • RE: “I think this is great news.”

    I believe all the employees from Axis (I’m friends w/ a few) kept their jobs, and the same owners are running the new bistro, so sadness should be for the loss of the spicy chicken penne and the chopped salad, not for a business folding; it is just changing faces.

  • AXIS was there like 2 years? Get over it people, it’s not like it was a neighborhood institution or anything. The new menu looks pretty good, a reasonably priced place to grab a bite. I hope they will offer a selection of wines by the glass, not just by the bottle. I agree with the comment about the awning — pull it down and start over.

  • Axis did not carry Cognacs, specifically Henny, as a means of crowd control. After learning this, I didn’t frequent it anymore. Glad there’s something else in its spot!

  • I celebrated my birthday at Axis last year. We crammed what had to have been about forty people in the small upstairs area, which had no bar. So that meant that the server—and there was only one—had to run up and down the stairs non-stop for several hours. A daunting task, no doubt. But the server, who was the bartender/manager, I think, killed it. Not only did he keep people’s glasses full throughout the night, he gave people separate checks. Totally above and beyoned what we expected and well worth the hefty tip we left. I only wish we’d gone back a bit more. While it’s reassuring that the staff and management have been retained, I think it’s unfortunate that an otherwise solid bar has been transformed into exactly what the area doesn’t need: another unnecessary “bistro.” Sorry to disagree, PoP.

  • for the longest time i avoided that bar because it made me think of Nazi’s.
    i avoided Tobaq too, because of its name.

    i have too much baggage i guess.

  • I echo Eric @2:12’s post. I’ve never had a large gathering there, but U street most certainly did not need another generic (and by the look of the awning, it can’t get much more generic) “bistro”. This was a great neighborhood institution / bar that wasn’t overwhelmed with poseurs. Sad state of affiars when such a great bar needs to appeal to the generic masses in order to make a better profit.

  • Why are all the haters dissing the new Bistro without checking it out? It is ACTUALLY really good and authentic, AND yes beer guzzlers, you can still drink microbrews here and talk to the friendly knowledgeable bartender! Jeez!

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