Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Central Michel Richard

My Dad is great and wanted to take me out to a fun dinner for my birthday, so after a Rice alumni reception at the Hotel Monaco we did a late dinner at Michel Richard's new place, Central. The restaurant is very attractive, with stainless steel fixtures and hardware along with light hues of wood, earthen-colored marble counters and tapletops and clean white lines throughout. Lighting is somewhat dim and the bar area is actually fairly large - next time I go back I think I will try to score a couple of seats at the bar and make an evening of it.

We were seated in a perfect spot just adjacent to the open kitchen. I just love to watch cooking in action. My Dad got me a glass of a nice Pinot Noir from California to start with. We then decided on a bottle of French Grenache to pair with our meal. The wine was fruity and light and had a gorgeous and rich purple color. Perfect for the somewhat wide-ranging cuisine at Central. The menu offers both Hot and Cold Appetizers, 10 or so of each. The Cold Appetizers include Frisee Salad with Duck Eggs, Tomato and Burrata Salad, a Prosciutto Plate and a Goat Cheese Caesar Salad. The Hot offerings include Cheesy Popovers which looked gorgeous coming out of the kitchen. There are also about 8 sides available for $7 each and which include Brussel Sprouts, Asparagus, French Fries and Creamed Spinach.
We decided to share the Caesar Salad as a starter. They split the salad into two plates for us and it was still more than an ample portion for each of us. Wedges of crisp romaine lettuce were prettily arranged in square white bowls and were drizzled with salt, pepper, finely chopped tomato and probably the best Caesar dressing I have ever tasted. It was light but also creamy and rich and really just superb. The color was off-white and the salad really was a beautiful dish. For our mains, I had Grilled Tiger Prawns with Snow Peas. The prawns came head and shell on and were quite large in size. The snow peas were well-cooked and not too soft and the sauce was slightly sweet yet also buttery and had just enough soy to cut the richness a bit. My Dad had the Fried Chicken which was cooked absolutely perfectly - the meat was moist and juicy and the skin was crispy and tasty. The chicken came with the creamy and smooth mashed potatoes ever and a mustard sauce that resembled Hollandaise and which was totally decadent and lovely. We also shared Brussel Sprouts which were nicely seasoned with salt and pepper and which came with diced Pancetta which added a nice, rich essence to the dish. Other mains on the menu include Mussels with White Wine and Garlic, a couple of steak options, a delicious burger, and everything we saw coming out the kitchen looked more than appetizing. We enjoyed the lovely ambiance and certainly the food and the company. I would recommend Central for a special occasion dinner or even as a spot to hang out at the bar and have a nice glass of wine and perhaps a salad and a side dish.

Central Michel Richard
1001 Pennsylvania Avenue in NW DC

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