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Citronelle, Maestro, and ...?


DonRocks
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A well thought out ,expressive, gramatically correct first post that speaks volumes of those yet to come. http://www.chowhound.com/midatlantic/board...ages/14103.html is the link to a post of mine about Maestro from a number of months ago. I also recently said that a 22 course, 5 hour meal there was the best of my life. Still, Laboratorio-while different-is as good.

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Laboratorio is open only a few days a week, and the chef only cooks for a select few. This sounds like a safe place for him to show what he can do in terms of technique, creativity & service. A small piece of the whole Galileo experience.

While Fabio & Michel put on the same show for the entire restaurant, every day consistently including chefs tables & tastings.

Is Laboritorio a nice experience, it can be.

Is it the third best restaurant in the city, no because its not a restaurant, its a part time proof of talent.

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Bartelby,

I see your point, and I hadn't thought of it before. But I don't think we can fault Donna for opening Laboratorio only three nights a week any more than we can fault Adria for only opening half the year. If he feels that's the most appropriate way to operate his business, that's up to him.

Every restaurant has a limited number of seats available. Whether the scarcity is a result of limited space in the dining room or limited opening times, the effect is pretty much the same from the diner's point of view.

Chief Scientist / Amateur Cook

MadVal, Seattle, WA

Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code

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  • 7 months later...

Here it is. The previous post was from August 26th, 2003. I had posted (which brought the thread to the front page), then deleted my post (which dropped the thread back down to where it was).

My post consisted of a one-word answer to my own question: Palena.

But I still have not been to Laboratorio, Le Paradou is now in the picture, and I had already typed in the Panini press release, so I decided not to flood the airwaves.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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I've asked this question to some pretty knowledgable people, and have yet to get a satisfactory answer: Citronelle and Maestro are head-and-shoulders above anything in the DC area, in my opinion. What do people think is third? I'm not much into numbers and rankings, but I actually had someone go so far as to tell me The Prime Rib was probably next in line, and I don't want to believe it.

Though I haven't been to The Inn at Little Washington in several years, I've always thought that place was overrated, and in fact I would have said Obelisk was better five years ago (not anymore).

Marcel's? Man oh man that would be a VERY small bronze medal compared to the gold and silver. Le Relais? I haven't been yet, but I'm hearing gurglings of interest emanating from the peanut gallery. Gerard's Place? Not willing to pay the money to find out, given the spotty meals I had there the last couple times several years back. But, oh baby, when he was at the Ritz in Pentagon City, that was about as good as it gets outside of France. Ben's Chili Bowl? Hmm... Taberna del Alabardero? Perhaps. Laboratorio at Galileo? I suspect that will be the plurality voice.

You're forgetting a small 40 seat restaurant in the Geroge Washington hotel called NECTAR!!

That has proven that with a small budgett you can still do high end food and have a high end service....Forget about Citronelle!! Maestro (Ok!!)

-gurrag

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I've asked this question to some pretty knowledgable people, and have yet to get a satisfactory answer:  Citronelle and Maestro are head-and-shoulders above anything in the DC area, in my opinion.  What do people think is third?  I'm not much into numbers and rankings, but I actually had someone go so far as to tell me The Prime Rib was probably next in line, and I don't want to believe it.

Though I haven't been to The Inn at Little Washington in several years, I've always thought that place was overrated, and in fact I would have said Obelisk was better five years ago (not anymore).

Marcel's?  Man oh man that would be a VERY small bronze medal compared to the gold and silver.  Le Relais?  I haven't been yet, but I'm hearing gurglings of interest emanating from the peanut gallery.  Gerard's Place?  Not willing to pay the money to find out, given the spotty meals I had there the last couple times several years back.  But, oh baby, when he was at the Ritz in Pentagon City, that was about as good as it gets outside of France.  Ben's Chili Bowl?  Hmm...  Taberna del Alabardero?  Perhaps.  Laboratorio at Galileo?  I suspect that will be the plurality voice.

You're forgetting a small 40 seat restaurant in the Geroge Washington hotel called NECTAR!!

That has proven that with a small budgett you can still do high end food and have a high end service....Forget about Citronelle!! Maestro (Ok!!)

-gurrag

gurrag,

Welcome to eGullet. Nectar is a wonderful little restaurant. The owners and staff are friends of mine. As much as I like Nectar, I think they would agree with me that it is in no way in the same league as Maestro or the other restaurant you mentioned.

Mark

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a disclaimer: never before have i experienced the seemingly gastronmic might of (nectar or le paradou or the inn) maestro or the laboratorio (though once suffered interminably through a pathetic excuse for fine dining at galileo, consisting of an atrocious menu that i could've ordered from three brothers for an eighth cheaper and equally "delicious") or citronelle (beware mark! i may have frightened you but wait till i show up for a glass of gigondas or st. chinian and a cheese plate... youve been forewarned: then you may be truly terrified; i will stick out like a plate of jamon serrano amongst the extramadura-ean iberico pata negra ham)

that being said, having experienced the culinary strength of persistenly bibulous london and the nephritic delights of provence and languedoc-rousillon (not to mention cleveland) nothing in my life has yet lived up to the extraordinary experience that is palena. it blends the sophistication and relaxedness in a manner that very few restaurants achieve, despite my attachment to a certain establishment on columbia road (still the best value fine dining venue in my mind...)

that being said, (obelisk a pair of years ago did register quite high) palena certainly surpasses the entire fine dining experience with me. (though if they only had bone marrow on toast with maldon sea salt a la st. john in london !!!)

Edited by frogprince (log)

there is no love sincerer than the love of food

- george bernard shaw

i feel like love is in the kitchen with a culinary eye, think she's making something special and i'm smart enough to try

- interpol

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Here's a question (or a beautiful insertion of foot in mouth, if I've got any tag names wrong) -- but how come no DC women have chimed in on this thread? Is there something about the foolishness, dare I say it, of ranking restaurants one against the other in strict linear format that draws mostly the fellas?

Emily Kaiser

www.emilykaiser.com

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Here's a question (or a beautiful insertion of foot in mouth, if I've got any tag names wrong) -- but how come no DC women have chimed in on this thread?  Is there something about the foolishness, dare I say it, of ranking restaurants one against the other in strict linear format that draws mostly the fellas?

Whaddaya mean? Rocks started this thread. :raz:

Good point. Don't know why.

Edited by Al_Dente (log)

peak performance is predicated on proper pan preparation...

-- A.B.

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Here's a question (or a beautiful insertion of foot in mouth, if I've got any tag names wrong) -- but how come no DC women have chimed in on this thread?  Is there something about the foolishness, dare I say it, of ranking restaurants one against the other in strict linear format that draws mostly the fellas?

Speaking for myself only (and not all of womankind), budget and timing alone have prevented me from getting to some of these upper echelon spots.

Edited by JennyUptown (log)
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Here's a question (or a beautiful insertion of foot in mouth, if I've got any tag names wrong) -- but how come no DC women have chimed in on this thread? Is there something about the foolishness, dare I say it, of ranking restaurants one against the other in strict linear format that draws mostly the fellas?

cheap boyfriends?

ducks..............

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Here's a question (or a beautiful insertion of foot in mouth, if I've got any tag names wrong) -- but how come no DC women have chimed in on this thread?  Is there something about the foolishness, dare I say it, of ranking restaurants one against the other in strict linear format that draws mostly the fellas?

cheap boyfriends?

ducks..............

It's actually a good point. I know more single women on egullet than single guys. That's not to say there aren't married women here, but you know what I mean.

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Here's a question (or a beautiful insertion of foot in mouth, if I've got any tag names wrong) -- but how come no DC women have chimed in on this thread? Is there something about the foolishness, dare I say it, of ranking restaurants one against the other in strict linear format that draws mostly the fellas?

wholeheatedly agreement in my opinion, to quote emily kaiser: rating restaurants as some sort of avatar of supreme gastronomic delight seems exceptionally pretentious, elitist and essentially pointless. one man's citronelle (no offense to employees of said establishment) may be another man/woman's certain chili bowl. that having been determined, can one well and truly state an absolute on culinary achievement?

no, of course not. the franco-italian cuisine served by palena will be kilometres away from the lombardy-centric italian served by tosca or the "gras de oie" soaked cuisine de terroir of say, bistro d'oc.

this of course represents a predominantly euro-centric intrepretation of three of dc higher-end restaurants.

ranking, ordering, assigning personal arbitrary values (based on subjective personal tastes and preferential modes of food) to restaurants obviously strikes me as essentially pointless;

however, are there certain places (regardless of cuisine, white-tableclothness or not, etc etc) that strive to a higher degree of gastronomic bliss within their respective means, regardless of the type or style of food they happen to be serving? without a doubt. and i would grant my most efflusive, ebullient, enthuastic praise (given my cynical nature and highly restricted financial means) on such places as: palena, tosca, cashion's, jaleo, vidalia, mark's duck house, emerita's pupusas, cafe atlantico, ernie's crab house, johnny's half shell.

(yet another financial disclaimer: never before having been to "the big ones" of dc, i will not fall down prostrate in praise nor contemptuously criticize citronlle, laboratorio, the inn at little washington, marcel's, nectar, montmartre, gerard's place...etc etc. forgive me, i am for the forseeable six weeks still a destitute impoverished student of literature and cook of fine food. )

there is no love sincerer than the love of food

- george bernard shaw

i feel like love is in the kitchen with a culinary eye, think she's making something special and i'm smart enough to try

- interpol

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Here's a question (or a beautiful insertion of foot in mouth, if I've got any tag names wrong) -- but how come no DC women have chimed in on this thread?  Is there something about the foolishness, dare I say it, of ranking restaurants one against the other in strict linear format that draws mostly the fellas?

It's just like this...

"Now what if Da Bears were to enter the Indianapolis 500? Uhhh, what would you predict would be the outcome, huh?"

"How would they compete?"

"Well, let's say they rode together in a big bus. "

"Is Ditka driving?"

"Of course."

"Then I like Da Bears!"

"Sure."

"Yeah, I gotta go with Da Bear Bus!"

"Da Bear Bus!"

Same thing as comparing Citronelle to Inn at Little Washington to Palena. Since none of the three are going to prepare the exact same dish the exact same way, it's all subjective. They're all good - why should it matter which meets someone's arbitrarily applied standard of "best"?

Unless of course one of them has Mini-Ditka as guest chef. :laugh:

"Tea and cake or death! Tea and cake or death! Little Red Cookbook! Little Red Cookbook!" --Eddie Izzard
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  • 7 months later...

Citronelle today has absolutely nothing in common with any of the restaurants that Michel Richard has been involved with. It is far beyond what Citrus was on West Melrose when he was there in the mid 90's. I would argue, at a minimum, that it is on par with Gary Danko, Daniel and others. I believe Maestro to be the best Italian restaurant in the United States. (It can be argued that Fabio's cuisine is "grounded" in tradition and has evolved from there.) Having had dinner at the three Michelin star Le Calandre in Rubano on Saturday night (for the fifth time) I am convinced that Fabio is Massimiliano's equal. Coincidentally, the Calandre chef/owner is the youngest three star ever and Fabio is the same age. Further, their respective presentations in many ways are remarkably similar. On another board I ranted that it was a crime that Fabio did not win the Beard rising star award despite two nominations. (Tom Sietsema who chaired the committee would have an opinion on this different from mine.) I would also add that it is a crime that Michel has not won the national Beard award. But this is more about politics and the New York based organization and less about talent and creativity. (Last I should note that as a native born Washingtonian who is immodestly chauvinistic to here that I strongly believe that D. C.'s absolute best restaurants can compete with any American city's three best-New York, Chicago and San Francisco included. Having travelled over 100 days a year for almost 25 years throughout North America nd Europe I am convinced of this.)

Along with Roberto Donna in his Laboratorio (which is entirely different from Maestro) Washington has three world class restaurants. Each is different in its own way and offers its own unique experience. For what it's worth Roberto in four weeks will be on Iron Chef challenging Morimoto. One of the best dishes I have ever had in my life was a preparation of diver scallops in the Laboratorio. One of the best soups I have ever had is the crab and corn bisque at Citronelle. Perhaps the best risotto I have had anywhere in the world is at Maestro. Fabio flies his violane nano and carneroli in from Alba-it is the same that Massimiliano uses at Le Calandre.

Flip several coins while also considering that your own Charleston is a national class restaurant only a short rung below the three above. Bocaccio, Alberto's, there is nothing in Baltimore that could even begin to give you an idea of the excellence at DC's two Italian landmarks.

And hope that Sietsema begins to promote DC which I personally view as part of his role. We have the excellence that is worthy of this now.

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And hope that Sietsema begins to promote DC which I personally view as part of his role.  We have the excellence that is worthy of this now.

Perhaps the new food editor will take note.

Read the SF Chronicle lately? The PR arm of the dining scene.

Firefly Restaurant

Washington, DC

Not the body of a man from earth, not the face of the one you love

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Flip several coins while also considering that your own Charleston is a national class restaurant only a short rung below the three above.  Bocaccio, Alberto's, there is nothing in Baltimore that could even begin to give you an idea of the excellence at DC's two Italian landmarks.

Oh, I'm fully and painfully aware that Charleston is Baltimore's only and perhaps arguably "national class" restaurant. Italian, forget it. I was part of the Baltimore contingent at the first CH Lab dinner a few years ago and while I really enjoyed the food I didn't so much enjoy the waiters who I actually thought may paw me if I made eye contact or got up to watch the goings on in the kitchen. But, I'm still interested in trying Maestro with the hope that the servers there are a little less randy.

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