Archive for the 'District of Columbia' Category

Citronelle – Georgetown

The Roving Reporter was lucky to have the pleasure of dining at Michel Richard’s wonderful Citronelle. He had the Promenade Gourmande tasting menu with the wine pairings.

RR didn’t do any lengthy descriptions or to be more accurate no descriptions at all so the camera will have to tell the story.

Amuse Bouche

Champagne Eric Rodez, “Brut des Crayeres”, NV, France

Cauliflower Soup, peekytoe crab, roasted almond

Nantucket Bay Scallop, miso-green apple sauce

Chablis Premier Cru, “cote de Lechet”, Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard 2008

Sauteed Foie Gras on fresh Tagliatelle

Riesling, Domaine Zind Humbrecht, France, 2009

Silver Hake, ginger emulsion

Viognier, “St Fleur”, Domaine de Triennes, France 2009

Lobster Burger and Potato Chips

Puligny-Montrachet, Domaine Bzikot, France, 2008

Short Rib, prime, braised 60 h, raisin-peppercorn sauce

Saint-Emilion, Chateau Grand-Pontet, Grand Cru Classe, France 2004


Chateau Le Cedre, Cahors, France 2008

Eggs-ceptional Lemon Meringue


Beaumes de Venise, Domaine Durban, France 2007

Petits Fours

Roving Reporter said it was an exceptional meal.

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.

Cafe Atlantico

From a year ago.

Nuevo Latino Dim Sum Brunch 

We decided to have the deluxe tasting for $34.95 per person. This includes every single “dim sum” item offered – 31 different tastes. This is definitely an overload and I am not sure I would do this again with just two people.  Palate fatigue was definitely an issue. Some of the dishes were wonderful, others fair and some just not worth it. One problem with so many dishes is that many arrive barely lukewarm which severely detracts from the dish.

I have not eaten at the bar at Café Atantico as they only serve dinner. Here is a picture of that area.

Now for the dim sum lunch.

Fresh Oysters with Mango Oil and Passion Fruit – excellent beginning and the fruit component was an excellent pairing with the oysters.


Guacamole, freshly made tableside and tortilla chips – always good and you can specify your preference re spiciness.



Spinach Sautéed with Raisins and Pumpkin Seeds – nice


Duck Confit with Passion Fruit Oil – This was delicious. The skin was crunchy, almost caramelized and the duck flesh is fork tender, sliding off the bone.


Fried Egg with Veracruz Sauce – this suffered from not being hot enough, but the flavor was a perfect marriage.


Pineapple Shavings with Plantain Powder – interesting palate cleanser


Shrimp with Butternut Squash, Caramelized Pumpkin Seeds and Lime Air – actually an interesting concept, but the “air” didn’t add enough of the lime component


Four dishes were now presented at the same time.

Chilled Cucumber and Tomatillo Soup

Potato and Vanilla Mousse with American Caviar – just perfect

Asparagus with Plantain Powder and Orange – saucing a tangy orange sauce

Fried Eggs with Black Beans and Pork – I do wish this had been hotter.


Tuna Ceviche with Coconut. This was very cleverly presented. The Ceviche had been wrapped in a thin sheet of jicama and dusted with crushed corn nuts on top. Excellent.


Quinoa and Cauliflower Couscous with Sliced Onions – I wasn’t expecting to like this, but it was served steaming hot so maybe I was taken in by the decent temperature of the food. Crunchy and quite delicious.


Now another four dishes were presented at the same time.

Salmon-pina ravioli with scallion sauce – fair, suffering from overcooked salmon


Red Snapper with Avocado sauce – actually this was quite good. The avocado sauce added creaminess to the snapper.


Seared Watermelon with Citrus Vinaigrette – I was surprised that I enjoyed this – an excellent palate refresher.


Beef with Tamarind sauce – I was really looking forward to this, but the beef was poor quality – one bite was enough.


Mango Anchovy Raviolis – horrible. Mango and anchovies just isn’t a match made in heaven – personal opinion.


Four dishes presented:

Beets with Goat Cheese Fondant – This was OK, but the ratio of beets to cheese was off – there wasn’t enough cheese to offset the beets


Huitlacoche and Wild Mushroom Quesadilla – This suffered from the cooked ahead syndrome


Coconut rice, crispy rice and squid – This was delicious – great taste and texture


Scallop with Orange sauce – The scallops were huge and tough. One small bite.


Hot and Cold Foie Gras and Corn Soup – this was a mini foie gras soup. On top was corn foam with a bit of crushed corn nuts – a winner


4 dishes presented:

Jicama-arugula rolls, quinoa, corn and cabrales cheese


Seared Baby Corn with Corn Puree – excellent


Conch Fritters with a Liquid Heart – Soggy


Jicama-avocado raviolis with Citrus dressing – this was much like a beggar’s purse with the jicama being the wrapper and filled with an avocado mousse. I must admit that palate fatigue was definitely an issue.


The jicama wrapper:


Three dishes presented:

Salmon with Papaya sauce – my notes say why? The saucing made no sense


Quail with Latin Spices – the duck confit was far superior


Seared Cigales – quite good.


Pan dulce with Cinnamon Syrup – delicious


This was an extraordinary experience. Temperature of the dishes becomes a major issue, particularly when you are getting 4 dishes at the same time. However, this would make a perfect group experience – better suited for more than 2 people.




We do not walk into Citronelle as unknown diners. We have been personal friends of Michel Richard for years and enjoyed many wonderful meals both at his restaurant and at his house. Also, I have had the pleasure of cooking for him and his family at our house.

Thanks to a certain sommelier at Citronelle, I was instructed to bring a huge batch of homemade cookies, pastries, brownies, persimmon pudding plus my “new” creation coconut sushi. This certain sommelier also happened to mention that if I showed up empty-handed, I just might not have wine with dinner.

Since the chef’s table wasn’t booked for the night, we sat there for champagne and cookie sharing. Who says you can’t start dinner with dessert!

After sampling the brownies, rugelah and other cookies, I decided to see what Michel thought of the sushi. They graciously let me use a corner of the counter to slice the coconut sushi.

Michel contemplates it and looks askance.

He finally declares it a winner.

Jean Jacques also declared it a winner while Mark had to wait to taste some until after he had poured the champagne.

My brownie is always a hit!

We decided to stay at the chef’s table for dinner. Michel asked what we wanted to eat and wisely we let him choose. By the way, everything we had was on the menu, available to every diner. This was not an off-menu dinner – anyone could order it.

Michel’s kitchen is pristine; immaculate is closer to the point. As you watch the chefs, there is a ballet going on – no rushing, no wasted movements, no yelling, and no noise – just intense and focused concentration.


Gruyere Cheese Pizza with Bacon. The dough is actually brioche made only with milk with the addition of a bit of gelatin to firm the dough. It is encased in plastic, much like making a sausage and frozen. For service, the chef uses an electric meat slicer to make thin slices and it is baked “a la moment” for service.



Oyster Shooter – Starting at the bottom cucumber gelee, sliced Blue Point Oysters with Crème Fraiche, Fresh Passion Fruit with Tapioca and Uni Foam on top. This was absolutely delicious. I particularly liked the passion fruit with tapioca in that it mimicked in looks salmon eggs, but you got a burst of fruit in your mouth.


Porcini-Green Lentil Soup, poached egg. This dish is first presented with just the poached egg and small bits of pepita and bacon. A Michel Richard dish will almost always have a crunchy component. The server then pours the soup around the egg. The egg had been poached for 45 minutes at 47 degrees Celsius. (The reason my descriptions are so detailed is that Michel was the one describing them to me.) The combination of flavors – runny yolk, firm white, crunchy pepita, smoky bacon plus rich porcini/green lentil soup was just fantastic.



Foie Gras Carpaccio – This was a painting and definitely hints to Michel’s artistic background. On the bottom was a round circle of cold foie gras. On top of the foie circle were cubes of foie gras gelee, grapes, orange segments, black beans, Chayote and Beet chips. The “saucing” was orange oil and beet reduction. Some foie courses are so rich and heavy that you lose your appetite. This was as light as it was tasty. Another winner.



 Tuna Napoleon “Nicoise” The ingredients in this dish was a huge nod to a nicoise salad – black olives, fried Spanish capers, beet and tomato gelee cubes, boqueron (Spanish anchovy), haricot verte and “egg.” The tuna was stacked between layers of potato tuile. Ringing the plate were small pools of basil oil, ginger and cream.



Now take a close look at the “egg.” This is not an egg! The white is actually mozzarella and the “yolk” yellow tomato confit. I love Michel’s whimsy and cleverness. However, he never sacrifices flavor for ingenuity.


 Lobster “Begula Pasta” – When they were ordering the tins for this dish, the manufacturer made a mistake and printed Begula instead of Beluga – hence the name. The top layer of this dish is pearl pasta with squid ink, then pieces of lobster, hollandaise sauce and a poached egg. Clever, delicious, very rich and fun – A+.



Loup de Mer, tomato concasse, spinach pasta. The spinach/egg pasta was the “cap” for the fish and the tomato concasse the base. This was a huge nod to the South of France.


Short Ribs, braised 72 hours, Potato Napoleon, Syrah Sauce. I have to admit that I am not a huge lover of short ribs and have had one too many versions of stringy, overcooked meat. Not this one; it was meltingly tender. The potato napoleon was the ultimate in comfort food – a grown-up potato gratin.

As we started with dessert, we decided to adjourn to the lounge for cigars and aperitifs.

What strikes me most about Michel’s cooking is how much it has evolved over the years. This is not the cuisine that Michel was serving years ago at Citrus or even what he was serving a couple of years ago at Citronelle. This is exciting food, using up-to-date techniques, but always with an acknowledgement that cleverness can’t take precedence over taste and flavor. My only regret is that I don’t live around the corner – if I did, I would be there at least twice a month or even more often that that