Favorite Things: Mussel Chowder at Central Michel Richard

Central Michel Richard serves chowder with a French flourish. Photograph by Stacy Zarin-Goldberg.

True New Englanders might scoff at Michel Richard’s refined mussel chowder at Central Michel Ri­chard—but not once they’ve put spoon to mouth. A deep bowl arrives empty, aside from a handful of plump mussels, perfectly diced potatoes, and braised leeks. The golden-hued soup is poured in tableside. Ri­chard was trying to copy the clam chowder “that Americans love” when he created this dish. “But I’m a Frenchman,” he says. “It’s American food with a little French accent.” The accent comes from saffron and a pinch of turmeric, the pungent spice that lends yellow-orange color to Indian curry and to this elegant version of an American classic.

$8 at Central Michel Richard, 1001 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 202-626-0015;

-This appeared in the December, 2007 issue of the magazine.