100 Best Restaurants 2012: Michel

From soulful bistros to high-gloss steakhouses, there's lots of good eating in DC, Maryland, and Virginia


This hotel restaurant from Michel Richard has spent the past year grappling with its role in the master chef’s orbit. It’ll never be Citronelle, the venerated older sibling in Georgetown, and it hasn’t captured the public’s fancy the way his casual Central in downtown DC has. But that doesn’t get in the way of a good meal, and Richard’s sensibility–its wit, its theatricality–retains its allure. The dining room is inviting–dominated by swaths of plum and with lighting worthy of a theater set, it rides the line between formality and playful modernism. That same balancing act applies to the cooking, as Richard and his kitchen find the seam between French and American cookery, pumping out updated bistro classics alongside intricate, shock-of-the-new concoctions.

What to get: Gougères, light-as-air cheese puffs; salmon tartare; rich chestnut soup; 72-hour braised short ribs; fried chicken with mustard sauce; roast salmon with lentils and shallot dressing; lobster burger; banana split; chocolate mousse with cocoa puffs; napoleon, crunchy panes of pastry sandwiching superb vanilla cream; vacherin.

Open Tuesday through Saturday for breakfast and dinner, Sunday and Monday for breakfast. Expensive.

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.