100 Best Restaurants 2011: Michel

No. 32

Only the top 40 restaurants were ranked in 2011's Best Restaurants list.

The Ritz-Carlton dining room long vacated by Maestro is now a plum-hued playpen for the area’s premier culinary artist, Michel Richard. The influences are many—Asian flavors, French bistro fare, American comfort food—all refracted through the prism of Richard’s witty mind.

Crabmeat-stuffed spring rolls look tossed off, but the construction is as intricate as a roulade; a bowl of pho-style broth with sablefish, shrimp, udon noodles, and a poached egg appears convoluted but speaks simply and directly. The setting provides a fitting stage for the food, and every accoutrement, from the water glasses that fit snugly in the hand to the flattened spoon provided with dessert, adds to the pampering.

Still, Michel isn’t yet the place it aspires to be. Open only since November, it could stand more fine tuning in the kitchen and in its service. The cost of dinner for two is about a third more than at Central, the chef’s DC bistro. And Michel lacks both Central’s informal conviviality and the high-gloss perfectionism of Richard’s fine-dining flagship in Georgetown, Citronelle. Our bet: The restaurant will make the necessary adjustments. It is, after all, a Michel Richard production.

Also good: Salmon terrine; crème brûlée napoleon.

Open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner, Sunday for brunch. Expensive.

>> See all of 2011's Best Restaurants


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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.