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Michel Richard's CENTRAL


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Finally got there last night , as the Mrs was coming off a plane at 8PM. We just walked in and and immediately found a small table in the bar . We go for food, but the people watching from this location was wonderful (can't believe what some people wear out in public-but that's another story).

We started with a couple of "beverages" and I immediately questioned the size of my Patron (neat, water back)it was rectified, but why in hell should a good joint pour chintzy? It starts the evening with a bad impression.

We ordered Gougeres (cheese puffs) and were rewarded with a basket of cheesy wonder......GOOD EATS! Nice play on the classic which you might expect.

Mrs. had the lobster burger and was entranced, she comments that substituting the salad for the fries was a good choice (for her) as the salad was quite tasty.

I had an old favorite Frissee and lardon salad with the smallest (not cooked completly-meaning that there was still some run to the white) egg, and was pleased with taste and size. I've got to go to books to see about the crutons that were on the salad.

We'll go back as the location is convenient (valet parking on the corner) and there are itemss on the menu that I NEED to try. I saw hanger steaks that looked good, and I'd have to try the short ribs and (yes, I love them) brussel sprouts (seems that only French know how to cook them to my taste).

Ted Task

Rockville

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Finally got there last night , as the Mrs was coming off a plane at 8PM. We just walked in and and immediately found a small table in the bar . We go for food, but the people watching from this location was wonderful (can't believe what some people wear out in public-but that's another story).

We started with a couple of "beverages" and I immediately questioned the size of my Patron (neat, water back)it was rectified, but why in hell should a good joint pour chintzy? It starts the evening with a bad impression.

We ordered Gougeres (cheese puffs) and were rewarded with a basket of cheesy wonder......GOOD EATS! Nice play on the classic which you might expect.

Mrs. had the lobster burger and was entranced, she comments that substituting the salad for the fries was a good choice (for her) as the salad was quite tasty.

I had an old favorite Frissee and lardon salad with the smallest (not cooked completly-meaning that there was still some run to the white) egg, and was pleased with taste and size. I've got to go to books to see about the crutons that were on the salad.

We'll go back as the location is convenient (valet parking on the corner) and there are itemss on the menu that I NEED to try. I saw hanger steaks that looked good, and I'd have to try the short ribs and (yes, I love them) brussel sprouts (seems that only French know how to cook them to my taste).

Ted Task

Rockville

Is the lobster burger really worth $28?
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I had the pleasure of visiting Central the other evening and enjoyed it quite a bit. Good onion soup, superb mussel soup. I continue to crave the onion tart with bacon; it's tempting to order eight or ten for carry-out and put them in the freezer, like frozen pizzas but much better, and warm one up every morning for breakfast. Maybe warm up two. The gougeres are, as everyone says, addictive. The Mrs. had what was for my money the best burger in recent memory; I had the 72 hour short ribes and they werre spectacular. Though I was pre-disposed to be unimpressed, the Kit-Kat bar dessert was a keeper as well.

Possibly more impressive than the food was they way the staff flawlessly handled being the hottest restaurant in town, on a Saturday night, the weekend a three-star review appeared, with the owner and assorted VIPs in the joint.

I am eager to go back, and perhaps even try the (made frozen, he claims) Brussels sprouts. I wonder if they go well with a lobster burger....

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Thanks for the report. We have reservations for tomorrow night. My bistro addicted daughter is very excited. Is the onion tart the traditional quiche lorraine, or is it more like a pissaladiere?

(P.S. And how do the gougeres comepare to mine?)

Edited by hjshorter (log)

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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Thanks for the report.  We have reservations for tomorrow night.  My bistro addicted daughter is very excited.  Is the onion tart the traditional quiche lorraine, or is it more like a pissaladiere?

(P.S.  And how do the gougeres comepare to mine?)

I'd say the tart is more of a pissaladiere-type thing.

The gougeres are different from yours (and mine) (do we both use Zuni Cafe?) in that they are not hollow. They're almost like little (about the same circumference as a nickel) cheesy biscuits, but incredibly lighter than the lightest biscuit you've ever had.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I've had the gougeres a couple of times and they have that pate-a-chouxness to me.

The short ribs are definitely excellent; when I want something lighter, which I usually do, the crabcake appetizer is large enough to make a meal.

Can't beat the faux gras, either, though I don't like the duck rilletes it comes with. If it's part of the charcuterie plate these days that's probably a better bet.

Cooking and writing and writing about cooking at the SIMMER blog

Pop culture commentary at Intrepid Media

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I've had the gougeres a couple of times and they have that pate-a-chouxness to me.

The short ribs are definitely excellent; when I want something lighter, which I usually do, the crabcake appetizer is large enough to make a meal.

Can't beat the faux gras, either, though I don't like the duck rilletes it comes with. If it's part of the charcuterie plate these days that's probably a better bet.

Is that "faux" foie? Ifso, what is he making it with?

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Cool. Thanks. Richard is one of the cleverest chefs whose work I've had the pleasure to experience. Not only is he clever with his constructions and puns, the food hits the mark. Central will be high on my list next time I'm in DC.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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  • 9 months later...

I went back to Central today hoping to have my socks knocked off and -- as much as I like the place -- the socks are still on. Had a tasty cold ratatouille and my friend devoured her lamb shank with polenta, but the pied de couchon was unfortunate. The shreds of pig trotter themselves were more stringy than unctuous, and the pasta square in which they were rolled -- which made the thing look disconcertingly like something from the hot dog grill at a 7-11 -- was just kind of there, in a starch sort of way. Sorbets were wonderful and the kit-kat bar remains winner.

I think the restaurant is great, but maybe I should get my glasses changed because I'm just not seeing the #10 in the city ranking by Washingtonian Magazine or the Post's 3 stars.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I have been twice for lunch in the last three weeks. The lardon frisee salad is the best I have ever had, here or in France. I liked the mussel chowder a lot. A friend raved to us about the burger It was good, but there are lots of good burgers in DC. A few months ago I loved the faux gras.

I went back to Central today hoping to have my socks knocked off and -- as much as I like the place -- the socks are still on. Had a tasty cold ratatouille and my friend devoured her lamb shank with polenta, but the pied de couchon was unfortunate.  The shreds of pig trotter themselves were more stringy than unctuous, and the pasta square in which they were rolled -- which made the thing look disconcertingly like something from the hot dog grill at a 7-11  -- was just kind of there, in a starch sort of way. Sorbets were wonderful and the kit-kat bar remains winner.

I think the restaurant is great, but maybe I should get my glasses changed because I'm just not seeing the #10 in the city ranking by Washingtonian Magazine or the Post's 3 stars.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I have eaten at Central twice in the past two months and both times have been delicious. The first time I was there we sat in front of the chef's plating area (a real treat- definitely request this four-top if you can) and I had the vegetable torte (to die for) and the loup de mer. Second time around I had the ratatouille (a great rendition but the accompanying salad was overdressed with just olive oil and was totally superfluous) and the vegetable torte as my entree. I think you get the picture- get the vegetable torte! The loup de mer, if you are someone who will eat fish skin and likes the whole fish presentation, is also, excellent. I'm not even a fan of frisee lettuce, but with the rich fish and hearty sauteed wild mushrooms, it is a delicate and perfect match.

How could I forget about dessert? My boyfriend and I shared the infamous kit kat bar the first time, and the second was a birthday celebration, so we requested a special dessert, which was to be the chef's choice, along with the apple pie-like dessert (cant remember the name, but its the only apple dessert on the menu). The apple dessert was fabulous, with the perfect crust, and not too sweet. The "special dessert" though, was truly a work of art. It was a HUGE version of the kit kat bar, with fresh berries, the brittle sauce, and a beautifully enscripted "Happy Birthday". I have seen a lot of birthday desserts in restaurants and this (esp since they had little prior notice) was truly all-star service.

On a side note, did anyone catch Michel Richard on a Baking With Julia rereun a couple days ago on PBS/Create? He was incredibly fun to watch as he interacted with Julia, and seemed much more relaxed and jolly than reports seem to make him out to be. Does anyone even watch pbs food shows? For me, they're a million times better than the food network.

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  • 3 months later...
Cool. Thanks. Richard is one of the cleverest chefs whose work I've had the pleasure to experience. Not only is he clever with his constructions and puns, the food hits the mark. Central will be high on my list next time I'm in DC.

I was in DC over the weekend with my family to attend a National Quiz Bowl Tournament at Marymount University in Arlington that one of my sons was participating in, so I availed ourselves of the opportunity to dine at Central this past Friday evening. based on my experience at Citronelle as well as the accolades on this topic, I had very high expectations - perhaps too high. Everything was, in fact, quite good, however, nothing really shone the way I expected it to.

The first thing I ordered as we sat down were...

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Gougeres

These were quite tasty and worth the price - a nice starter.

One son had...

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Cherry Tomato and Burrata Mozzarella

I didn't get to taste this as he seemed to enjoy it.

Another son had a side of mac and cheese, which was an excellent version of this classic. My wife had the iceberg and bleu cheese salad, which she enjoyed. Our eldest son satisfied himself with gougeres and delicious crusty bread, while I had...

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Duck Rillettes & Faux Gras Terrine

There was nothing wrong with this dish - the rillettes were good, the gherkins and pickled onions crispy and good and the terrine delicious- it didn't send me over the top. The terrine, while reminiscent of foie gras, still had the underlying chicken liver flavor. The concoction was a masterful play on foie, using less luxurious ingredients and the portion was quite generous. I enjoyed it, but it was a not a dish I will dream of.

For main courses, our youngest son had the mussels with white wine and garlic, which he greedily devoured. This is perhaps his favorite dish in the world and he was not disappointed here. Indeed, I tried one. The mussel was plump, moist and flavorful. Son in the middle had a Steak au Poivre served with lacy fried potato strings and onions that looked like pasta. His steak was perfectly cooked and flavorful. Our eldest son had...

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Grilled Salmon with lentils

The lentils had a strong acid component to them. The fish was cooked to his liking.

There was a softshell crab dish on the menu, which my wife ordered:

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Softshell Crab with Corn Relish

The crab was crisply fried in what appeared to me to be a beer batter. It was tasty, though not transcendent.

I had the...

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Lobster Burger

This was perhaps the most disappointing plate for me. It was good, but not great. While it was quite buttery, it was lacking in deep lobster flavor and not nearly as good as many a lobster roll that I have had. Of course, those lobster rolls were in New England and not DC, but a great dish should be a great dish anywhere. The salad was actually the best part of the dish for. It was well prepared with fine ingredients.

My wife and I shared an albariño (2006 - don't recall the producer) while the boys had delicious and refreshing house-made strawberry sodas.

Desserts:

Our youngest son had...

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Chocolate Lava Cake a la Mode

Classic (now) and still good.

Son #2 had...

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Michel's Chocolate Mousse

The mousse had a raspberry filling inside. Funny thing, when my son asked about it before ordering it, he was told it was "just chocolate mousse." When it was brought out, he was told that there would be "a surprise inside." Fortunately, it was good and he liked it.

I ordered the...

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Kit Kat Bar

This was a rich gianduja that was simply too sweet for my taste. The texture, underlying flavors and aesthetic were fine. It simply didn't suit me.

The service was friendly and efficient , though our waiter did not present the neatest appearance as he had wine stains all over the front of his shirt.

Overall, I thought the restaurant was very good and a good value. My family enjoyed it (more than I did). While I would very much care to return to Citronelle, which was probably one of my top ten meals of my life, I wouldn't rush back here. If I lived in Dc and dined out a lot, it would be different and would probably be in a rotation of restaurants that I would return to, but as an occasional visitor to DC, I would prefer to either try new places or return to a few others I prefer. In other words, I consider this to be a good neighborhood or location restaurant and not so much a destination. My guess is that is probably what it was designed to be. Citronelle remains the destination restaurant for those who wish to sample Michel Richard's finest cooking.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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  • 2 weeks later...

I ate at Central in the Jean Louis Palladin room as part of a press group of 11 people. We shared the very good gourgeres (light, cheesy and savoury) and the charcuterie (which was excellent although not quite as good as Daniel Boulud's in Vegas) with really excellent bread. I had the crab cake with leek tartare which delicious, followed by the lobster burger with salad which was enjoyable and then the banana split which was frankly ridiculous. The portion wasn't big, it was gigantic which was sort of the theme of the evening.

The burgers were about the only things that weren't outsized, with the fried chicken being the most monsterous. Our lovely waitress Pamela told me that customers clear their plates but I, as a greedy, overweight and enthusiastic diner simply couldn't imagine it. We cleared perhaps 30% of the food we were served, although a plethora of sides upped the waste ratio quite considerably - not because they weren't good (the mac and cheese was the best I've ever had) but because we just could manage them.

Delicious food, just way too much of it.

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  • 3 months later...

Hi,

Will be in DC 10/2-10/6. The only time we can do Central is Sunday evening but according to Open Table, the only spots near 6PM are 530 and 7:30. Due to the logistics (full day at museums, hotel near Dupont ... too far to go back to, no place to kill time since museums close at 530), does anyone know if a walk-in will be doable? Sorry if my question is confusing! :)

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Hi,

Will be in DC 10/2-10/6. The only time we can do Central is Sunday evening but according to Open Table, the only spots near 6PM are 530 and 7:30. Due to the logistics (full day at museums, hotel near Dupont ... too far to go back to, no place to kill time since museums close at 530), does anyone know if a walk-in will be doable? Sorry if my question is confusing! :)

Before you give up, call the restaurant. A personal call will often give a positive response where Open Table won't. They can also give a clue regarding Sunday -- if it was Saturday, you'd probably be In like Flint at 6, but Sunday schedules can be tricky.

If you don't mind drinking for two hours (and I never do) there are only about a million places within a couple of blocks at Central, so that shouldn't be a concern.

I realize that Central is the hip spot these days, but you might consider the less-hyped but equally good (though different -- they're not interchangeable) Cafe du Parc, just a couple of blocks up Pennsylvania Avenue.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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