Could Citronelle Be on the Move?
Rumors of impending change have been swirling around Citronelle for much of the past year. (Always swirling, by the way. Never circling. Never dancing.)
The area's No. 1 restaurant was taken over by new owners this past Fall, and according to multiple sources, Chef Michel Richard has been unhappy with some of the belt-tightening imposed by the new group. With the recent opening of Central Michel Richard, and with negotiations on a new contract between Richard and his new owners still ongoing, and with a $25 million upgrade to the Latham Hotel about to begin, that talk has continued to heat up.
To wit: Richard is going to leave Citronelle! Richard is going to leave Citronelle and open a spate of Centrals across the area!
Mel Davis, who handles PR for the restaurant, told me that although Richard has his eye on a string of Centrals — should this one succeed, of course — he isn't abandoning his flagship restaurant. Citronelle's immediate future should not be in doubt.
"I can't tell you that there hasn't been talk that, if it doesn't work out, that we won't just pick it up and move it someplace else."
Citronelle someplace else?
"There will always be a Citronelle. Michel is committed to Citronelle. … It's just a matter of where it will be."
The Ripert Repore, cont.
Last May, I reported that Eric Ripert of Manhattan's famed Le Bernardin was thisclose to coming to town to open a new restaurant.
It's a done deal.
The restaurant, called Harvest, will replace The Grill at the Ritz-Carlton on 22nd and M Sts. Adamstein and Demetriou are doing the interior.
No word yet on how involved the pouty-lipped, four-star chef plans to be in the day-to-day operations of the new restaurant, which should open late this summer or early fall, but his arrival marks yet another high-profile addition to the city's dining scene
Tasting Notes …
The new Napoleon, on Columbia Rd., tastes as bad as it looks. And it looks like a cross between a garish, two-bit Vegas club and an Eastern European bordello. The food? Fries cooked in old oil, an outrageously overpriced steak, and a blanquette de veau that looks as if it came out of a can of Campbell's. Anyway, the wines are good. … Food Factory (with locations in Arlington and College Park) is burdened with one of the worst names of any restaurant in town, suggestive of a streamlined operation stamping out tasteless widgets of food. It's anything but, though. The bone-in chicken kebabs are some of the best in the area, as juicy as you could hope for, and with enough of the smoke from the charcoal grill they're cooked on to make them memorable. … If you're downtown and bored with your usual go-to lunch places, give The Best Sandwich Place a try. That's the tiny shop in the building that houses the Borders on 18th and L Sts. It's not visible from the street, and has to be accessed from a door to the right of the bookstore. The first thing you notice when you walk in is that it smells markedly different from a Subway. It smells like roasting meats. Zero in on anything to do with roasted turkey, which is sliced from a hot, freshly roasted turkey breast. I like a version piled high with juicy white meat (yes, it is possible) and topped with cranberry sauce. Delish.
Thanks for writing in. I appreciate it.
If you and other chatters recall, I purposely didn't comment on this matter at the time — and tried to make clear in my response that I considered his version of events to be just one side of the story. I then put the call out for you to respond.
And now you have. I'm glad to have it here on record. That's why it's a chat — a chance for a back-and-forth about things.
I'm not going to play judge and jury. But readers — having all the information at their disposal — can make up their own minds.
It's the kind of place you'd love to see have a visible storefront and lines and lines of customers.
Only then, the secret would be out.
(Although, as a former teacher, I should hasten to add: Shame on you.)
Yeah, I'm just as interested as you are to see what happens with this service. I'll be surprised if it succeeds. I just don't think there are that many restaurants where people are that clamoring to get in every night.
And thanks for the reminder about canceling reservations well ahead of time, if you can.
How about Old Glory, on M St.?
Fun atmosphere, very casual, lots of beers on tap, and loads of decent and properly messy ribs and wings and whatnot.
Now, it wouldn't be my first choice for barbecue — or even my second, or my third, or fourth. Heck, it wouldn't crack the Top 20.
But I think it fits the bill for your Saturday night. Good place to take a large group
What do I think?
I think you had a great time. And that's really the most important thing, right? I love the idea of a "progressive" dinner, of going from one place to the next. Great way to celebrate.
I'm surprised to hear you didn't go anywhere different for dessert. That would've really rounded out the night.
Now, personally, I would've skipped IndeBleu and gone someplace else, but that's me. I'm not as enamored of looking at the well-coiffed and well-dressed so much as I am in eating something really, really good. If the food's not good, no decor in the world, no drapes, no lighting, no carpeting, no sound system is going to put me in a good mood.
Nobody but nobody lives in Raljon. Raljon, for those of you who don't know, doesn't even exist — it's the name made up by former Skins owner (and insufferable megalomaniac) Jack Kent Cooke, a mingling of the names of his two sons, to designate the place where FedEx field — the former Jack Kent Cooke Stadium — sits. That ain't Raljon. That's Landover.
Stadium eating. Yeah, I eat at games. Not with anything approaching enthusiasm, though.
You're right: The price of tickets and the execrable (overpriced) food is pretty much unbearable.
Speaking of unbearable: Watching the Nats this year is going to be PAINFUL. Saying bye-bye to Soriano, one of the game's most electrifying players, pretty much kills my interest in coming out to the park on a regular basis. That, and the prospect of a 50-112 team. Kasten says he knows what he's doing, and touts his record in Atlanta, but he seems to have overlooked one crucial thing: This isn't a baseball town. Not yet. The fans have to be wooed and won over.
How to steer this baby back on course?
Baseball makes me think of hot dogs, and "hot dogs" reminds me to tell you that M'Dawg Haute, the new upmarket hot dog house on 18th St. — with sausages, some of them, made by chef Greggory Hill — opens today.
I love the market. Be sure to go to the stall in the back — the name escapes my recollection just now — and get a crabcake, a real one, served on Saltines.
Petit Louis is a nice destination, yes. It's in a restored pharmacy, and drips with character. I've only been once, and can't remember specific details, but I remember thinking the bistro cooking was pretty good — nothing wowing, but lots that was tasty. It's a great place to while away a couple of hours.
For a good quick lunch on the way out of town, stop by Burke's, near the harbor. It's a tavern, and dark, with sassy, veteran waitresses who each have a story to tell, great, huge burgers and onion rings the size of coits.
Thanks for chiming in, Tenleytown.
This is one reason why I tend to refrain from getting into he-said, he-saids with this chat, much as though the opportunities for melodrama are there for the taking.
As you said: Neither I nor you, the reader, have any real idea exactly what happens in any instance between two parties at a restaurant — despite the reports from either side.
Anyway, no worries. The forum stays open.
Hey, there. Thanks for reporting back. Good chattiquette, Bethesda.
And happy anniversary!
I guess the question is — helpful to whom?
To the person who knows little about the area's restaurant scene? No. To the person who loves to go to restaurants and eat and drink but who isn't the sort of person inclined to dissect the dish and the rationale for pairing a certain course with a certain wine? Again, no.
There are some people on these boards who know an awful lot about food and drink, to be sure.
Some of them are actual insiders — people who work in the business. Some of them disclose their connection, some don't. It hardly matters either way, since the nature of the Internet is that readers don't read all that carefully and the information, in the end — the sheer information, not whether it is true or false, rumor or not, honest critique or public relations — is ultimately what is retained in the great collective memory.
And some of these people are quasi-insiders — people who are fond of a chef or restaurant and who then become fans or, if you will, groupies of that chef's place. People who want to be on the inside. Special treatment invariably follows, which in turn leads to gushing posts on the message boards, which in turn creates a buzz about a place.
Last spring, I reported that Jared Slipp, formerly the sommelier at Nectar and then Ray's the Steaks — was going to be pairing up with a DC chef on a new restaurant — a small place (no more than 24 seats, if I recall), with interesting, challenging cooking. Slipp swore me to secrecy at the time, but now I can say it: that chef is John Wabeck.
The plan was that Slipp, not Wabeck, would be doing the cooking (he's got mad skillz in the kitchen, apparently), and Wabeck, not Slipp, would be handling the wines (he's studying to become a Master Sommelier).
The big question, at that point, was getting the needed investors on board. Is Wabeck's departure a sign that things are, indeed, moving ahead?
More as I hear it.
Meantime, enjoy the dusting of snow, folks, and be careful on the slick and icy pavement out there as you head out to lunch and dinner tonight.
Eat well, be well, and let's do it again next week …