Central Michel Richard
1001 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20004
Neighborhood: Penn Quarter/Chinatown, Downtown
Cuisines: Modern, French, American
Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday for dinner, Sunday for brunch and dinner.
Nearby Metro Stops: Metro Center, Federal Triangle
Price Range: Expensive
Noise Level: Rowdy
Oysters; “faux gras” terrine; Gruyère gougères; grilled cheese with a three-cheese béchamel for dipping; fried chicken; cheeseburger with cheddar and bacon; coconut Pavlova; hazelnut-backed riff o
Cuisine: Michel Richard’s version of a bistro is a playground for any culinary style, dish, accent, or seasoning that catches his fancy. He and chef Cedric Maupillier turn out gleefully unfaithful renditions of French comfort cooking along with twists on fish and chips and a banana split.
Mood: An oversize portrait of a jolly Richard anchors the far end of the dining room. Tables are side by side, Parisian style, and the crowd is a who’s who of Washington, from media mavens to politicos.
Best for: Richard fans who aren’t up for the blowout prices at his Georgetown restaurant, Citronelle; New Yorkers; foodies.
Best dishes: House-made, nonalcoholic fruit sodas; duck rillettes and “faux gras” terrine; burrata, a soft Italian cheese, with basil oil and roasted cherry tomatoes; tagliatelle Bolognese; cassoulet; Brussels sprouts with bacon; pearl-pasta risotto with mushrooms; house-made corned-beef sandwich; apple pandowdy; chocolate lava cake.
Insider tips: The kitchen can be uneven, so count on the occasional low amid the highs. Still, it’s one of the hottest tickets in town, and reservations (made well in advance) are needed. At lunch, the corned-beef sandwich will more than satisfy all who long for a great Jewish deli.
Service: *** (three stars).
Open Monday through Friday for lunch, daily for dinner.
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