100 Very Best Restaurants 2014: Central Michel Richard

No. 9 on this year's list.
Photograph by Scott Suchman.

The master chef may be spending most of his time in New York, where he recently opened two restaurants, but Michel Richard’s lone DC dining room is not suffering. This remains one of the most fully realized restaurants in Washington. At a time when every new spot wants to blend ambition on the plate with a not-really-trying casualness in the room, the strings too often show. Here the effect is almost seamless, as is the canny marriage of bistro and diner.

Portions are big—is that a chicken schnitzel or a hubcap?—but the razor-edged cleanness and baroque detailing of the compositions bespeak the four-star world in which Richard made his name. Forgoing dessert here is like leaving a show before the rousing finale. 

Open: Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday for dinner. 

Don’t miss: Gougères; deviled eggs with boquerones; escargot tart; “faux gras” terrine; lamb burger; short ribs; fried soft-shell crabs; fried chicken; banana split; napoleon; cherry tart.

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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.

Anna Spiegel
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.