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The seared fois gras at Café Marmotte. Photo courtesy of Café Marmotte

Under New Management, Café Marmotte Switches From French Cuisine to Italian

A fresh, pasta-focused concept is scheduled to debut in mid-January.

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First, the bad news: Café Marmotte, the Washington Park West French bistro that opened in 2015, has closed. Well, sort of. The good news is that the team behind Avanti Food & Beverage’s Parisian street food stall Bistro Georgette has taken over, keeping the doors open while planning for a big pivot.

Which brings us to the other good/bad news, depending on your preferred European cuisine: Café Marmotte will still serve French fare, but only through the end of this year, at which point the space will transform into a currently unnamed Italian restaurant.

“We’ll do a last hurrah for French food,” Bistro Georgette hospitality director Heather Morrison says. “Then, we’ll start the new year with homemade pastas and go in a more Italian direction.”

For now, the Bistro Georgette team, which also includes executive chef Ty Leon and beverage director Austin Carson, will cook both the classical French food that Marmotte supplied to the neighborhood as well as a few creative twists on the canon.

“We don’t want to shock the regulars too much,” Morrison says.

Marmotte’s new menu still includes French onion soup, coq au vin, and steak frites au poivre, but those staples are joined by more modern dishes like seared foie gras with a huckleberry waffle and foie gras ice cream and a tempura squash blossom tart with Mornay sauce.

Besides Leon’s fresh perspective on the food menu, Café Marmotte now has an expanded wine list with both French and Italian options and Carson’s clever cocktails. Using spirits exclusively distilled by the Family Jones, Carson has added matcha and green apple to the classic French 75 and banana rum and Nutella to his old fashioned.

Until, that is, the big change. It may seem strange for French restaurant vets (the trio worked together at Mizuna) to take over a French restaurant and turn it into an Italian one, but you can’t fault their reasoning.

It’s all about that pasta.

“It’s our common love of yummy, house-made pasta,” Morrison says. “That’s what we want to do, and we’re pretty excited about it.”

Morrison expects the Italian concept to open in mid-January.

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