Archive for September, 2010

Central – Washington DC

Central is Michel Richard’s casual restaurant in DC. While working in Annapolis, the roving reporter invited his friends to dine at Central. (Editor’s note- some descriptions are brief as roving reporter didn’t eat every dish and also he doesn’t take notes.)

The restaurant is a charming, noisy, delightful bistro done with style.

Open kitchen…a very busy place…

Michel Richard – adorable

Michel still as charming as he always was and is.

Cherry Tomato & Burrata Mozzarella Salad

Central “Chopped” Salad

Frog’s Legs – The last time I had these with Michel was out on the lawn in front of his rental house in Brittany. We had been to a fabulous “Fish Factory” in Brittany and picked them out fresh.  Michel threw Lizzie and me out of the kitchen because we were “stealing” too many frogs legs as he and Patrick Jeffroy, his friend and 2 star chef  were making them. Here he uses a great cole slaw to put the frogs legs on top. I will definitely have these next time at Central, absolutely worth returning for.

Roasted Salmon with Tomatoes and Pearl Pasta

Lamb Shank with Creamy Corn Polenta and Fried Shoestring Onions – a big portion, but delicious.

Chicken Rotisserie with Roasted Potatoes and a small green salad – another “must come back to have”  dish

Michel began life [at 14] as a pastry chef for the legendary Gaston Lenotre. He has not lost his touch – He’s a great teacher/trainer.  (He taught lizziee who used to buy pastries and now wouldn’t think of anything but homemade). The Napoleon was REAL –  perfect flaky puff pastry with wonderful creme. It was the first time I’ve had a high quality Napoleon in years – just perfect.

Michel then decided to say to our server, “Bring them every dessert!”  and they did. Tastes of everything made it clear that Washingtonians can go to Central for dessert only and love it. Here Banana Split – old fashioned delicious with a few new touches.

Chocolate Lava Cake a la mode

Michel said “boobies with chocolate sauce”…yup, that’s Michel!  Vanilla Ice Cream with Hot Chocolate…it all disappeared.

Central’s Chocolate Mousse – The bowl was emptied by my friend’s 21 year old “actress daughter, soon to move to Hollywood.”  She is lactate intolerant and the staff was perfect in checking ingredients. She was not enthusiastic about going with us, but had a great time–no one can resist Michel!

Dessert Debris – demolition with protests,”I can’t eat any more” but we did.

We had a great time.  If you are going to DC, make Central a must visit.  Coming soon is Michel’s new restaurant at Ritz Carlton in Tyson’s Corners.   Michel says it will be not as fine dining as Citronelle but not as casual as Central.


Bar Bouchon – Beverly Hills

Bar Bouchon again! This is definitely our go-to place when we are in Beverly Hills around 3:30. We tend to order our favorites.

White wine from their list

Shiny Sea Oysters from Prince Edward Island and Del Sol Oysters from San Diego – perfectly shucked and great slurping oysters

Olivade (Nicoise Olives with Olive Oil) and Tapenade (Fromage Blanc, Anchovies, Nicoise Olives). The tapenade could have used a bit more seasoning to spark it up a bit

Tartare de Thon – Tartare of blue eye tuna, haricot verts, strains of seaweed, gribiche sauce (capers, cornichons, shallots, champagne vinegar, mayo) with won ton crisps flecked with black sesame seeds- an old favorite and perfect

BYO Red Wine

Escargots de Bourgogne – marinated snails in garlic-parsley butter and puff pastry –  the puff pastry is placed on top with the snail underneath

The puff pastry turned over – be sure to ask for extra bread to mop up the wonderful garlic/parsley butter

A lovely snail ready to be popped in the mouth

Merquez panini with Monterey Jack Cheese, Red pepper and cumin aioli – a lovely panini with nice “heat” from the sausage

Inside of the panini – great gooey cheese and nice spicy Merquez

Banana Pain Perdue, Crumble of Walnuts, Nutella, Malt Ice Cream

A wonderful way to spend a late afternoon in Beverly Hills.

Kyochon – K-town

Refined Palate roving reporter on Kyochon Chicken

Our good friend Simon had been raving about Korean fried chicken.   We love getting together to catch up over an “interesting” lunch.

Kyochon has several LA locations.  We went to the nearest at 3833 W. 6th in K-town.  This is very near my old office. There is a shopping center parking lot, FREE parking –   typical shopping center restaurant look…nice, clean –early at 11:30 so no one there…filled pretty fast.

plate and chop-stix

simple look–very clean.

Simon suggested “Sampler”  Signature wings [spicy], grilled wings, honey wings, sal sal chicken strips and legs…a lot of food for $ 25.99. I loved the sal sal chicken strips, good greenish sauce…

bucket full of debris-bones and napkins– you need to wash your hands after devouring the fried chicken as your hands get very sticky!

All gone–Simon demolished the last leg –could not resist.


Very good, not heavy, not greasy, nice service.   We also had a very good broccoli salad with raisin and bacon dressing [forgot to take a pix]…

I would go back, but the location is very close to Cassell’s the great hamburger place–no contest which is better.

Takao – Brentwood

John and I were the very first customers when he opened Takao, approximately 10 years ago. I used to feel that Takao was able to fuse east and west with incredible finesse; his saucing was extraordinary. His ingredient quality was obviously not like Urasawa’s, but for a small Westside sushi bar it went way beyond the usual. During the last year there has been a definite slippage in the quality of the ingredients. Also, the cooked items don’t have the same care and attention they once had. It is with regret that I can no longer recommend Takao.

BYO Wine

BYO Wine

Smoked Salmon on a fried dumpling, radish sprouts, summer truffles, avocado, tomatoes, yuzu – this was the best dish of the night

Kumamoto oysters, scallions, ponzu – good, but not even close to the quality of oysters at Bouchon

Blue Fin Tuna Cubes, fresh Wasabi, soy sauce – just chunks of tuna with a wad of wasabi on top

Squid, caviar, green onion, radish, fish broth with sake – the dish fell apart as you ate it and you ended up with caviar floating in the broth – the soup bowl was not made for slurping.

Spanish Mackerel, scallions, white onion, carrot, ponzu


Matsutake mushroom soup with shrimp, hamo (whitefish), ginko nuts, mitsuba leaf, light bonito broth

The bonito broth – Takao used to excel at stocks and broth – this was in a word weak.

King Crab, pickled ginger root, vinegar sauce – not a favorite of mine – personal preference

Green Tea noodle wrapped with flounder, soba soup – this was just not good, a mess with gluey green noodle “stuffing”

Close-up of the flounder

A couple of pieces of sushi – no photo

As this is the second “iffy” meal at Takao, I doubt we will return. This is just not like the Takao of past years.

Blue Plate Oysterette

For a die-hard Bostonian, Blue Plate Oysterette is a “taste” of home.

BYO White Wine ($10 corkage)

Tania – our excellent server who lived in Boston during her college years – she knows her fried clams

Oysters on the half shell – Paradise Cove (Ca), Endless Summer (Baja), Barron Point (Washington) and Malpeque (PEI)

Grilled Prawns Cocktail (served cold) with Cocktail Sauce

Ipswich Fried Clams – I order a half order at a time so the clams stay hot for the entire order. This was a half order? I deep-sixed the other half order and was only charged for just the half.

Notice the plump belly of the clam – these are true Ipswich clams with the bellies

Cornmeal Crusted Trout on a Hoagie Roll with lettuce, tomato, onion and creole mayo and tartar sauce served on the side – portion size is huge!

Fries served with the trout

Huge portions, fun, good food closest to a New England Clam Shack and perfect around 3:30 pm before the crowds descend.

Bar Bouchon Beverly Hills

This will be a very boring post as it repeats what I always say about Bar Bouchon. Yes, it is a perfect place for a late lunch/early dinner on the patio outside. Yes, the service is warm and professional. Yes, Chef Rory Herrmann is just getting better and better. Yes, the staff is overly accommodating to us as they let us order from the bar menu, the brunch menu and the Bouchon dinner menu – an advantage of being a regular. We tend to order our favorites – normally splits one for two.

White wine from their list

Chad our excellent server

Pate de Campagne – country style pate with cornichons and watercress – one of the best pates in Los Angeles

House-made English Muffin with a soft poached hen egg, smoked salmon, crispy capers and sauce hollandaise – Rory was kind enough to do the split in the kitchen.

Hollandaise sauce – served on the side as requested.

Salmon Benedict sauced – perfect and very rich

BYO Red Wine

Pan-roasted trout with haricot verts, almonds and beurre noisette – Again Rory did the split in the kitchen. This is a half portion! I was getting very full so I ended up taking some of the trout home. It was equally delicious the next day served cold.

Boudin Noir – blood sausage with potato puree and poached prunes – again a half portion. Rory is now making the boudin noir in house and it was perfect with decadent potato puree.

This was not a dinner for the diet crowd. You can order salads and raw “fruit de mers” but I just can’t resist the rich classical bistro dishes.

Flannery’s Burger and Potato Crisps

This was the blend we chose: “The Soon to be Illegal: 50% Wagyu Chuck (Step 1), 25% Wagyu Shortribs (Step 2), 25% Wagyu Fat Blend (Step 3). The fat percentage of this beauty is around 26%, and the flavor score on is a solid 5.”

“The Soon to be Illegal” Flannery Burger Meat

Burger grilling – The burger meat is so fatty that I suggest you pan fry them instead of grilling to prevent flare-ups.

Finished Burger – before condiments are added. “Dress” according to your preference. We just used mustard and tomato as we didn’t want to obscure the meat.

Potato crisps

Recipe for Crisps:

Brush a baking sheet well with some of the oil.  (The potatoes have a tendency to stick).  In a food processor fitted with 2mm slicing disk or hand-held slicing disk, slice thin the potato on the diagonal (cut one end of the potato on the diagonal to facilitate this) and arrange the slices immediately in one layer on the sheet. Brush the slices with a little more oil, sprinkle them with salt to taste, and bake them in the middle of a preheated 400 oven for 12 to 15 minutes, turning once, or until they are golden brown.  Transfer the crisps while they are still warm with a metal spatula to a rack and let them cool.