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Citronelle, 2007 National James Beard Award-Winning Chef Michel Richard's Flagship - Chef Patrick Robinson Replaces David Deshaies - Closed


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[posted on eGullet 2003-2004]

The indigenous people in North America were Asians who crossed the Beringia land bridge formed by glacial flow (and corresponding topographical change) approximately 12,000 years ago. When they arrived, they found woolly mammoths, saber-tooth tigers, mastadons, large bison, camels (!), giant ground sloths, and a whole host of other now-extinct beasts.

However, the true "Native Americans" were the anaerobic bacteria which formed during the Precambrian Era, only to be conquered and usurped, at least in stature, by the stromatolites and other primitive prokaryotes which formed approximately 3 billion years later in the region surrounding Lake Superior.

The only thing I can think to add is that I had a kick-assed beef shortrib "pot-au-feu" at Citronelle on Saturday night, and the presentation of the shortribs really does look like layered stromatolites. It's a bloody brilliant take on this dish, turning the peasant into the elevated. Run, do not walk. It's available at the bar for $35, and no shit, I suspect the entire dish has less than 1,200 calories while at the same time being rich, filling and satisfying.

Thank you for listening, and have a nice day.
Rocks.

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[posted on eGullet 2003-2004]

Hmm ... they say there are two people in this world you don't want to anger: the person working on your car, and the person fixing your food.

I'm strongly reconsidering coming tonight.

I can see myself sitting down at the table. Chef Hartzer comes strolling up, and smacks me on my back so hard that my teeth rattle.

"Donnie Rrrrrocks! Welcome back to Shitronelle, my friend. I heard you've been posting on eGullet," he says, grinning like a satanic pirate.

"Hi Michael."

"I'm going to send a course out to you, compliments of the house. It's an oyster shooter. Ever had it?"

"Umm ... yes, once ... a long time ago ..."

"I'm going to make it myself ... just for you. I need to head back to the kitchen now, but I'll send it right out." As he starts to walk away, he turns and looks back with a strange red gleam in his eye. "Oh by the way ... are you sure you didn't mean ... Spitronelle? Enjoy your meal, Rocks."

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[posted on eGullet 2003-2004]

Michael Hartzer is turning out some of the most complex and interesting plates Washington has ever seen. I don't know where he and Michel Richard dreamed up this one, but last night I had what must have been the most labor-intensive dish in the entire city.

It was a carpaccio of squab breast (!), laid flat in a wide shallow bowl, and topped with finely diced parsnips, turnips, carrots, English peas and slices of late-autumn truffle (!!). Basically, a "mirepoix." Resting on the wide rim of the bowl were two skewered squab legs "en confit," dry-rubbed with black trumpet mushrooms and truffles, and sitting atop a touch of microchervil. That's the dry part. Then comes a warm ladle full of intense gingery consommé which was made from chicken, veal and duck.

What to make of this? Well, it occurred to me that this was a three-way hybrid of their carpaccio, their pot-au-feu and their pintade of guinea hen which Michael confirmed. I cannot imagine how much cumulative effort it must have taken to make this dish, but I'm glad I was on the receiving end. Michel and Michael conceived this only two days ago, and it was a fascinating, thought-provoking experience that quite frankly I'm unqualified to fully appreciate.

P.S. Mark Slater brought us a fine magnum of 1997 Valpolicella "Ripasso" that is on the list for only $95. For a double-bottle of good wine at this level of restaurant with this level of service, that's quite impressive.

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[posted on eGullet 2003-2004]

Now that Citronelle is a current topic of discussion here, let me slip in one more plug for Mark Slater and their wine program.

I had dinner at the Citronelle bar last night, and while I was waiting for my meal, enjoying a wonderful $35 bottle of Cotes-du-Rhone (served in a first-rate Schott-Zwiesel wine glass), I took a closer look at the list.

Guess how many bottles of wine I counted that are priced at $55 or less?

102!

And at a restaurant such as Citronelle, the sommelier tastes and puts his stamp of approval on each-and-every wine, with the possible exception of the high-end rarities. So even if you bottom feed and look for something priced in the $30s, you're going to get a good bottle. This isn't even considering the first-rate wine service itself which makes a huge difference in the overall experience. Could you find a $50 Citronelle bottle for $40 somewhere down the street? Probably, but the wine service is eas-i-ly worth ten bucks, and on low-end wines you get virtually the same service as with the more expensive offerings.

I don't know how many wines are on the list at Citronelle, but let's say there are 600. Take away the 500 most-expensive bottles, and you know what would happen? The press would look at this 100-bottle list and lavish it with praise for being hip, consumer-oriented, and accessible.

Well, those 100-bottles are all sitting there, right now! It's just that there are so many expensive wines that you might not notice them.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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[posted on eGullet 2003-2004]

It’s time to begin thinking in historic terms about Michel Richard.

When Cal Ripken broke Lou Gehrig’s record for most consecutive games played, the great Brooks Robinson took the microphone. I don’t remember the exact words, but they were something like this: “People see me, and they say I’m ‘Mister Oriole,’” and then he looked at Cal Ripken, and said, “Cal, YOU are Mister Oriole.”

Jean-Louis Palladin has justifiably been considered as THE great Chef ever to set foot in Washington, but it’s time now for the great Jean-Louis to consider passing the torch to Michel Richard.

Pork Rinds and Hot Dog – Billed as the “Not-Yet-Famous Pied de Cochon,” Michel Richard’s soon-to-be legendary dish is worthy of awe. A “sausage,” if you will, consisting of pigs’ feet, foie gras, sweetbreads and chanterelles (I will repeat this in a minute), is served on a bed of potato puree, surrounded by a mushroom puree, and topped with a huge pork rind which is a rectangular “tuile of pig skin” completely masking the hot dog.

Please allow me to repeat this again:

The sausage consists of pigs’ feet, foie gras, sweetbreads and chanterelles, and it’s covered up by a rectangular tuile of pig skin.

Tonight I had this for the second time, and the only comparable dish I've had recently is the dish immediately preceding: the “Tuna Napoleon ‘Nicoise,’” which is a multilayered tower of raw tuna resting on thin wafers, each layer stuffed, and the whole thing topped with all the ingredients in a classic Nicoise salad. A straightforward and pure presentation, except that in a gesture of typical Richard playfulness, the quartered hardboiled egg is not an egg: it’s mozzarella, stuffed with yellow-tomato puree.

Michel Richard is the greatest chef ever to grace Washington DC. He has taken the longevity and tradition of Jean-Louis Palladin, the technique and promise of Yannick Cam and Gerard Pangaud, the charisma of Roberto Donna, the youthful whimsy of Fabio Trabocchi, the buzz of Eric Ziebold, the innovation of Jose Andres, and combined them all into a … no.

No. I saw what I was writing there, and it’s wrong. Michel Richard is Michel Richard, and he is not a derivation or combination of anyone. He is what he is, and he’s the best chef I’ve seen here in my lifetime.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Going tomorrow night for a delayed 1st Anniversary Dinner.

I've been before; hubby hasn't.

What is the not-miss dish of the moment?

:lol:

Jennifer

Michel's Beluga Pasta for the appetizer, Halibut with Foie Gras and green peppercorn sauce or the rack of lamb for the mains. Let me know when you're there!

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Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ;)

Michel Richard and Mark Slater are rock stars!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We had the most amazing meal last night. Mark expertly guided our selections, but I think that you really can't go wrong with this menu. Mr. BLB muttered something about going back to law firm practice to afford eating there more often. :lol:

The vegetable shooter was a lovely wake-up and had all the flavors of gazpacho. This lead to a long conversation about how much I was looking forward to tomato season.

I had the beluga pasta to start--wow! (I know, I'm repeating myself but sometimes there is only awe.) It was clever but clever only gets you so far. The flavor was complex and wonderful.

Hubby had the asparagus Vichyssoise (Thanks JPW) and he liked it. But it was an awful lot of asparagus.

I had the lamb as the main; it was simply the most tender, flavorful lamb I've ever had. I don't remember which wine Mark paired with it but it was the perfect marriage.

Mr. BLB had the duck and it took my breath away. But it was a very small portion so I only had one bite. He's less of a wine fan but he voted his wine pairing a sucess.

Dessert--breakfast flakes and the chocolate cherry cup. Yum! Paired with a red dessert wine; Mark called it the chocolate dessert wine. Wow! I'm a total sweet wine junkie (I've got quite a stash of Canadian ice wine) and this was the perfect pairing.

Just a perfect meal and a perfect evening. In retrospect, I should have tried for a Friday night reservation cause it was awfully hard to get up this morning... Next year!

Mark--thank you!!!!!!!!! You made us feel like royalty and we had the most wonderful time.

Jennifer

Edited by bookluvingbabe
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I just wanted to say Mark and Roberto (our waiter) treated us like royalty last week for our two-year anniversary. Cintronelle was everything we expected. We shared the vichysoisse, cuttlefish, tuna napoleon, soft-shell crab stuffed with more crab, dorad, duck and too many desserts to remember. Everyone treated us like we were their only guests which is what makes great service stand out.

Thank you Mark!

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My wife and I went a couple years back and were really underwhelmed by Cintronelle and haven't been back since. The service and food were adequate, nothing near what I have experienced at other "high-end" places.

Maybe it was an off night.

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My wife and I went a couple years back and were really underwhelmed by Cintronelle and haven't been back since. The service and food were adequate, nothing near what I have experienced at other "high-end" places.

Maybe it was an off night.

Could you post any details?

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Ok, so my wonderful girlfriend is taking me to Citronelle for my birthday tonight. I already think I know what I'm going to order (I was thinking about the begula pasta and the squab) - but who knows? Any strong recommendations from anybody who's been there really recently? :P

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Ok, so my wonderful girlfriend is taking me to Citronelle for my birthday tonight. I already think I know what I'm going to order (I was thinking about the begula pasta and the squab) - but who knows? Any strong recommendations from anybody who's been there really recently?  :P

Duck!

The begula pasta!

The chocolate cherry cup thingy!

This was about six weeks ago...

Jennifer

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Duck!

The begula pasta!

The chocolate cherry cup thingy!

This was about six weeks ago...

Jennifer

Thanks - the begula pasta seems to be a resounding "yes"! Any suggestions on how I do the wine pairings? I've heard so much about how accommodating Mark is, but I've never really been to a restaurant with a sommelier before (well, besides the French Laundry, and there the sommelier basically told us what we were getting...of course his recommendations were excellent). So I'm a little apprehensive about that, even though I know a lot about wine...

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Thanks - the begula pasta seems to be a resounding "yes"! Any suggestions on how I do the wine pairings? I've heard so much about how accommodating Mark is, but I've never really been to a restaurant with a sommelier before (well, besides the French Laundry, and there the sommelier basically told us what we were getting...of course his recommendations were excellent). So I'm a little apprehensive about that, even though I know a lot about wine...

Their wine list is fairly extensive, so just ask Mark to choose the wines for you and you will be a very happy camper.

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Soft shelled crabs stuffed with crab are great.

My least favorite was the asian style duck. I love duck but it was not up to the par of the rest of the meal.

Just pick any wine with 4 figures and you should do fine.

Mark had a nice aged Burgundy that was not too expensive.

Edited by DCMark
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Their wine list is fairly extensive, so just ask Mark to choose the wines for you and you will be a very happy camper.

Well, I definitely took that advice - Mark was incredibly accommodating and very engaging. But let's start from the top.

The meal started with us trying to figure out what we were going to drink - we had sparkling water, but wanted to start with a glass of wine. The waitress presented us with the wine list, but as it is quite extensive (that being an understatement) I was a little intimidated. So we ordered our dinner and asked to see Mark.

Mark couldn't have been more helpful. He started off by asking if he knew me from here (which I appreciated, though I had to explain to my girlfriend what he was talking about). I think he could tell I was a little intimidated by the whole question of how much wine we were going to get (especially since I was choosing but not paying, so he asked a basic question - if we drink a little wine or a lot of wine. We looked at him and told him we like a lot! So he recommended a glass of white for our first courses and a bottle of red for our second. I told him I liked Rhone wines, so he steered me in the direction of an excellent Gigondas that was only $60.

We started with the asparagus vichyssoise (for her) and the begula pasta (for me). The vichyssoise was excellent, though very asparagus-y. Mark was telling us how hard it is to pair wine with asparagus, so he paired it with a dry Riesling. This was my favorite wine of the night (probably because I really love Rieslings). Because Mark wasn't pouring, I didn't see which appellation/country it was from, though - Mark, do you remember (if you're around)? I got the begula pasta, which was delicious and very fun. I liked the hint of lemon and the fact that when I got to the end, my spoon was full of egg yolk even though I couldn't see the poached egg at the beginning. With that, I got a premier cru Chablis - it was delicious, with mineral flavors. I told Rebecca it smelled like a stony creek, and she agreed.

We followed that up with the cote de veau (for her), which was great - it was a good-sized chop, well-Frenched, and very tender and flavorful. That came with pearl pasta risotto, which was very good, with a great texture. I ordered the squab - it had some Asian flavors in it, with pea shoots, and came 3 ways - in boudin (which Mark told me had some foie gras in it...which I immediately noticed after he mentioned it), confit legs (these were Rebecca's favorite), and breast (which was wonderfully tender). The Gigondas went PERFECTLY with the squab - the richness of the squab definitely balanced out the tannins in the wine, which had a beautiful nose and was definitely an excellent example of the muscular Rhone style.

We finished off the Gigondas and the entrees and decided to get the cheese course. At this point, I was getting pretty full, but I knew I wanted to try everything I could, and the cheese did not disappoint - I can't remember all of them, but there was a Roquefort, a Camembert, and a Muenster. And they were all tiny.

We then decided to order dessert and dessert wine (we weren't kidding when we said we liked to drink a lot of wine!). Dessert was great - I got the napoleon, which was probably the most "normal French restaurant" dish I got all night and was excellent and she got the chocolate flakes, which Mark recommended. These were pretty good, though Rebecca said they tasted a little too much like actual cocoa puffs. But the bergamot and the mint made it a really interesting dish. Our dessert wines were a 20 year old Taylor Fladgate port and the Vin de Glaciere ice wine from Bonny Doon. They went perfectly with our dishes.

In the end, thanks so much to Mark and the entire staff at Citronelle for a wonderful birthday - we had a spectacular time, and I hope to bring my parents (who are also serious foodies/wine people) when they come to town next.

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I know that the presence or absence of a chef in the kitchen on a particular night is not supposed to make a difference in the quality of what comes out of the kitchen in a top restaurant. But Michel Richard is such a personality that I can't help but think that the experience of an evening at Citronelle suffers when he is absent. Am I off-base on this?

Is there any way of knowing, consistent with the lead time needed to book a table, when chef Richard will be in the house?

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I know that the presence or absence of a chef in the kitchen on a particular night is not supposed to make a difference in the quality of what comes out of the kitchen in a top restaurant. But Michel Richard is such a personality that I can't help but think that the experience of an evening at Citronelle suffers when he is absent. Am I off-base on this?

Is there any way of knowing, consistent with the lead time needed to book a table, when chef Richard will be in the house?

I can only judge based on my one time there, but Michel was not in the jitchen that night and it would be hard to top the performance we viewed and tasted while overlooking the kitchen.

I would think a great chef who runs a tight kitchen would have things tuned well enough that they could step away any time and have thing run right.

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I was taken to Citronelle last Friday night for birthday dinner number two. A truly wonderful experience that will be hard for me to convey in words. Our server was a true professional, combining charm and sense of humor that fit perfectly with the entire dining experience.

Here is what I remember.

One amuse was a trio of bites: egg surprise, mushroom cigar, and haricot vert tartar. The egg surprise was a slice of 'egg', made with mozzarella and yellow tomato, with a bit of tomato aspic.

The first courses of Michel's "Begula Pasta" and the Virtual Fettuccini were delicious. The presentation of the Begula Pasta is something to see. The dish, served in a 'caviar' tin, is pearl pasta cooked with squid ink under which is hidden a poached egg, toasted brioche, hollandaise, and lobster meat. A fun and delicious dish. The virtual fettuccini is cuttlefish cut into long strips and served like a plate of pasta topped with some diced veggies and trout roe. I only stole one bite and the 'pasta' melts in your mouth.

I went with the Asian style duck for my main and my GF had the Cote de Veau. The duck breast, cooked sous vide, was served medium rare and came with spring rolls and potato fried rice. Yes you read that correctly, potato fried rice. The potato is 'made' into rice sized pieces and then prepared as normal fried rice. The texture of the duck contrasted wonderfully with the crispy skin and I really enjoyed the flavors in this dish. The treat in the dish is the spring roll, which is filled with duck confit and peanuts. The veal was, as described above, exceptional and I enjoyed the couple of bites that I was able to steal.

After a very good cheese course of morbier, roquefort, epoisse, and a couple of other selections that I do not recall we were on to dessert.

My GF had the Breakfast at Citronelle and I wish I had a camera. The dessert is composed of a cappuccino, home fries, toast with butter, bacon strips, and a 3-minute egg. The presentation is truly a work of art and each item makes you stop and think. The home fries are cubes of apples with raspberry sauce and the toast is pound cake cut into triangular slices with a small scoop of ice cream as the butter. The really amazing one was the 3 minute egg, which was passion fruit (yolk) surrounded by the white (I forgot what it was made with) all inside of a real egg shell and the texture resembled a real 3 minute egg. I enjoyed the previously described Chocolate Flakes. The mint infused milk that is poured over the bergamot ice cream and chocolate flakes is amazing!

We started with a bottle of champagne and finished with a bottle of Gigondas, Clos du Joncuas 1998.

The service and food was absolutely first rate and we could not have had a better meal. A huge thank you to Mark and everyone at Citronelle for the first rate experience!

Edited to add the wine for JG. :P

Edited by mdt
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FYI, there was an interesting article in yesterday's NY Times Magazine about the sous vide process, which includes quotes from Richard and other local chefs. In fact, a number of DC area chefs are using this process.

NY TIMES

"Under Pressure"

By AMANDA HESSER

Published: August 14, 2005

How Bruno Goussault turned down the heat and started a culinary revolution in vacuum-packed bags.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/14/magazine/14CRYOVAC.html

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FYI, there was an interesting article in yesterday's NY Times Magazine about the sous vide process, which includes quotes from Richard and other local chefs.  In fact, a number of DC area chefs are using this process.

Joe H mentioned this today and the "reawakening" of sous vide. There's a good earlier article on the sous vide process (and how to do it at home if you have a food saver vac) at Slate:

Sous Vide

Perhaps this could be our regional specialty? I dunno. Those half-smokes at Ben's which are sprinked with fat from the fryer are pretty special.

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I'm a lucky, lucky boy - after my blockbuster birthday dinner, my girlfriend's dad is coming to town, and guess where she's conspired to have him take us... :P

Anybody been recently? (And by recently, I guess I mean more recently than July 6th...)

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I'm a lucky, lucky boy - after my blockbuster birthday dinner, my girlfriend's dad is coming to town, and guess where she's conspired to have him take us... :P

Anybody been recently? (And by recently, I guess I mean more recently than July 6th...)

I was just there 2 weeks ago, see a couple of posts up above. :wub:

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Are you dining inside or outside? I dined outside on the patio last week. We had the vegetable pasta, steak and tuna burger followed with Chocolate three ways and Pineapple sorbet/pound cake. The pasta, to our surprise was very good. I would go back just for that dish. But the star of the evening was my bordeaux by the glass...forgot the name...margaux 2002(?)...

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Are you dining inside or outside?  I dined outside on the patio last week.  We had the vegetable pasta, steak and tuna burger followed with Chocolate three ways and Pineapple sorbet/pound cake.  The pasta, to our surprise was very good.  I would go back just for that dish.  But the star of the evening was my bordeaux by the glass...forgot the name...margaux 2002(?)...

Le Baron de Brane, Margaux 2000 (Second wine of Chateau Brane Cantenac)

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The first courses of Michel's "Begula Pasta" and the Virtual Fettuccini were delicious.  The presentation of the Begula Pasta is something to see.  The dish, served in a 'caviar' tin, is pearl pasta cooked with squid ink under which is hidden a poached egg, toasted brioche, hollandaise, and lobster meat.  A fun and delicious dish. 

MDT - many thanks for the detailed description of the Beluga Pasta. I might not have otherwise ordered it last Saturday and would have missed out on an amazing dish. It's incredibly rich (had to share but only a small part of it :lol: ) and it's now on my must-have list when dining at Citronelle. Mark -- THANKS for an awesome evening. Great wines and excellent conversation (oh, and the Epoisse with the house-made nut bread -- excellent combo!)

-Patricia

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We had another delicious meal at Citronelle - thanks to Mark (again) for his help with the wine! I was with the girlfriend's dad, so it was important that I make a good impression, and the excellent food and service at Citronelle was a real help in that regard.

Started with a bottle of Champagne - a really delicious dry rose. For apps, I had the soft-shell crab, she had the virtual fettuccini (which I wish I had tried MORE of!) and he had the foie gras carpaccio (same). My softshell crab was great - nice and crunchy, and with a nice dipping sauce. After finishing the Champagne, we ordered a bottle of Sancerre (which I didn't get to look at - by this time I was getting a little tipsy, as I had already had a glass of scotch).

For our entrees, I had the lamb (delicious - even better than the squab I ordered last time), she had the beef, and he had the black bass (which, unfortunately, I didn't get to try). She had a glass of the Margaux which was previously mentioned in the thread, and I had a glass of Burgundy, which was quite good, though I (and her dad) preferred the Bordeaux. And for dessert, they had the chocolate three ways (which they hoarded) and I had the breakfast for dessert - which had its highs (the delicious cappuccino) and lows (the apples and bacon, which were just ok). It looked really cool, though, and I especially liked the fact that a real eggshell was used for the eggs.

All in all, a great night - and a perfect place to have a fancy dinner, especially where we were seated in front of the impressive wine cellar.

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I have lived in DC for several years and have always wanted to go to Citronelle and lucky me!! My time has finally come. My boyfriend is taking me there for my birthday and I am so excited because this is definately one of the most notable restaurants i will have ever been to! Looking at their menu, I was drawn to the beef and the lamb entree. Has anyone tried these? Any recs? Also, even though I have been to many restaurants with Sommeliers, I have always found it unnecessary to ask their advice because we usually only order one glass of wine each. Is it worth getting Mark's attention for this kind of question? I can't wait!!

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. . . I have always found it unnecessary to ask their advice because we usually only order one glass of wine each. Is it worth getting Mark's attention for this kind of question? I can't wait!!

Alisa,

Happy Birthday! Lucky you, indeed!

I've only been to Citronelle once and it was a couple of years ago, so I'll leave the food recommendations to those who've been more recently. Look back through this thread, too, for recent comments.

As for asking the Somollier's advice for one glass of wine each, I think that is a good idea. He knows the dishes you are ordering, and once he knows what you like (and price range, if that's important), he can match that with his knowledge of his wines by the glass and provide the best complement to your meal.

Enjoy, and share the details after!

ScotteeM

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The great Self-Portrait by Kazimir Malevich can be viewed and dismissed-as-ordinary in the same amount of time it takes to scoff at a lesser work, but it simply cannot be understood until you realize the significance of that thing on the bottom-right, and why someone who, fifteen years before, was doing stuff like this.

And tonight there was the masterpiece from Michel Richard:

Duck

asian style, served medium rare

spring rolls, potato fried rice

2005 - Cuisine on ceramic plate 10" x 20"

I looked at this dish, acknowledged it, then took a bite of the potato fried rice and said, 'Vegatables in soy sauce. That's nice. Whatever.'

Then fifteen seconds passed by.

And I started thinking.

Then I took a bite of the duck.

A gulp of champagne.

I thought some more.

Then another bite of the potato fried rice.

Then more champagne.

More thinking.

Then a bite of the spring roll.

No more thinking. Epiphany.

I'm not going to ruin this dish by trying to describe it, but suffice it to say it's a Great Master's riff on something straight out of a Cantonese Duck House, and I'll leave the rest of the analysis up to you.

You can get this at the lounge at Citronelle, and it will cost you $38. Were this a non-perishable objet d'art, a painting, something at auction being purchased to pass down for generations, it would cost - and be worth - $38 million. There are few better values than truly great works of art on the plate such as this dish: and yet it's temporary, fleeting, and gone in less than an hour.

So you're a grizzled foodie who has seen it all, from top-to-bottom, finding fault in everything? Been to all the duck houses and done all the variations? Then you need to beg, borrow, steal, do whatever you need to do to get to Citronelle Lounge and try this dish. Have it alone, at the bar, lingering and nibbling at it. thinking about the genesis of the creation and the sublimity of the execution. Savor it slowly, over thirty minutes or longer, and do not hold conversation while taking it all in.

When the genius of Michel Richard is on full display like it was tonight, I just sit back and shut up, knowing full well that if he asked me to, I would happily pluck a pubic hair from his balls and floss with it while dancing an Irish jig.

One of the few world-class dishes I've had in 2005, and worthy of awe and respect by anyone serious about food as art.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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To what Rocks has posted let me only add that I remember that duck -- eaten months ago -- as though it were savored earlier tonight and I still had the taste in my mouth. Best dish I have had this year, simple and extraordinary, like a Rothko.

Rocks, however, was a fool to drink bubbly with it. The German stuff that Slater had put on the list by the glass was possibly the best wine-food match I have ever come across. Alas, my notes on that night have gone missing.

Edited by Waitman
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One of the few world-class dishes I've had in 2005, and worthy of awe and respect by anyone serious about food as art. 

What about those serious about food and art?

Thanks for the description Rocks. How early is the lounge open? Would I be able to eat there and make a 7pm curtain at the Kennedy Center?

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Fruit Still Life with Basket of Cheese by Pieter Claesz

Don your eloquence and artistic reference on your Asian Style Duck

experience at Citronelle is a Masterpiece of great writing!

You should wine the James Beard award for food writing this year!

Related to the "Art and Food" motif, the National Gallery of Art now

has on exhibition one of the great Dutch still art painters, Pieter Claesz.

More info at Pieter Claesz at the NGA,

it goes through the end of 2005.

Cheers to great food writing and painting!

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We can just start with WOW!

We decided to start the evening with a bottle of champagne (RM of course :) ) in the lounge and chat before dinner. Our chatting and champagne done, we descended to the dining room. We were seated at table 31, a front row seat with a view of the culinary ballet taking place in the kitchen.

Having dined at Citronelle before I find it amusing at how simply the items are presented on the menu. Do you really have any idea what is coming when you read Mosaic “surf & turf”? What in the world could Foie Gras Carpaccio be? Are they really serving an Oyster Shooter in the dining room? Then you remember whose restaurant this is and begin to think of how he possibly visualizes these items and then you would probably be wrong. So you sit back, ask your server some questions, place your order, and start your epicurean journey. We decided to go with two first courses and one main each and were glad as it allowed us to see and sample a range of wonderful dishes.

I started with the Porcini-Green Lentil Soup that is served with a poached egg. You are presented with a bowl, poached egg in the center. Mine was surrounded with a rather large amount of white truffles that somehow fell into this dish. I was definitely not complaining! The soup is then poured into the bowl and then you have to patiently wait as each dish at the table is properly introduced. Granted it is only a few seconds, but you really want to dig in immediately! Earthy, creamy, comforting, and amazing; all in one bowl.

My eyes were intently focused on my soup that I did not initially notice the other plates being served. Then I looked to my right and WOW! One of my dining companions ordered the Mosiac and this dish is truly a work of art even before any of it gets to your mouth. Thin, vibrantly colored glass-like circles of fish, vegetable, and meats are artistically arranged on a plate, a mosaic! :o The work that must go into this dish boggles the mind. Everything is cut so precisely that you almost don’t want to eat it, but you quickly forget that and dig in and find that the flavors are as vibrant as the colors.

My second, first course was the Foie Gras Carpaccio, a thin disk of pate served on a plate and covered with sliced grapes, beet (?) chips, and other items that I cannot seem to remember. Accompanied with a circle of brioche toast, this dish unfortunately followed the soup. I enjoyed it, and might have even more if I had not had that soup to start. The soup was that good.

My main was the Venison (fresh from NZ); slices of perfectly medium-rare loin with freshly cracked blacked pepper were served with chestnut risotto, brussels sprouts, and a celeriac-red wine sauce. This dish was everything that you could ask for if you enjoy game. Other mains at the table were the Chateaubriand, Halibut, and Dover Sole Almandine. I was able to score bites of the fish dishes and marveled at their execution. The halibut, rolled and served on its end, is topped with foie gras nuggets. The bite of sole, a take on the traditional trout almandine that I managed was delicious. The delicate flavor of the fish was not lost in the sauce and was cooked to perfection.

Not even thinking for a moment that I could navigate the wine list and select wines to match the food ordered, we placed ourselves in the hands of Mr. Slater and were not disappointed. We started with a Bordeaux Blanc, of which only 50 cases are made each year, moved to a toasty French Chardonnay, and then finished with a vibrant Grenache from Cote du Rhone. Names, you say you want names?

Now pretty full we decided to skip a cheese course and relax before dessert and coffee. The desserts, good as always, were a fitting end to a wonderful evening. There were two orders of the chocolate flakes, one commice pear and fig crumble, and one Snowman. The snowman makes its appearance every year and kits can be purchased by calling the restaurant. A donation of $4 for each snowman sold in December will be made to the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. You can enjoy dessert in the lounge, so go and have a snowman.

Edited by mdt
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So...  Anybody been recently?  What's particularly good these days?

Yes, I'm about to answer my own question:

Truffle Menu

Now through the end of February, Citronelle is offering an eight course black truffle tasting menu. It's extraordinary. Make your reservations now and start saving your spare change, because this meal is worth it. I will even go so far as to say that this was the best restaurant experience of my life.

Soup and Sandwich: a small cylindrical glass of truffle and foie gras soup, with a tiny straw; the presentation made it look like a hot coffee drink with whipped cream, but the flavor was deeply earthy, bold, and rich. The sandwich was stunningly simple: two tiny slices of bread enclosing the truffle. It tasted as though it had been fried in butter. I enjoyed a lovely Champagne with this dish (um, Mr. Slater, perhaps you could tell me which one? please?).

Foie Gras and Truffle Salad: a confession - I don't really care for foie gras. Until last night, that is. The salad part was simply frisee with cubes of foie gras and shaved truffle, but it was plated with a small stack of thinly layered foie gras and truffle (7 and 6, I believe). Another visual trick, as it looked like a miniature European style torte of coffee and chocolate. This was my favorite dish of the evening. And I thought I didn't care for foie gras.

Two Cheese Souffle: my husband's favorite of the evening, a simple (again) souffle made extraordinary with truffle emulsion and more shaved truffles on top. I regret not being able to name the cheeses, and I forgot to ask.

Flourless Lobster Pasta: by this time I was getting a bit pickled, having followed the Champagne with an Alsatian riesling, so I'm not sure if I got this quite right: what looked like ribbons of fettucine were nothing more than lobster. How did Chef do that?! This example of the chef's legerdermain was served with chunks of lobster meat, some sort of creamy sauce, and yet more shaved truffle.

Warm Yellowtail, leek-truffle vinaigrette: Yep, genuine hamachi, barely cooked on the outside and still raw inside, with truffles. My least favorite of the evening, I can only describe it as outstanding and not life-changing like the previous dishes.

Black Feather Chicken, israeli couscous gratin: a slice of chicken breast wrapped in cabbage and a touch of bacon (bacon! I love bacon!). With truffles. Wish I could describe the couscous better, but by this time the subtle and balanced Chateauneuf du Pape that Mr. Slater poured was beginning to push me over the edge. You should see the illegible scrawl in my teensy notebook. Definitely having coordination and memory problems by this point.

Chocolate Mushroom Vacherin: The first dish to not have truffles in it was shaped like a mushroom. Cute. And tasty. But by now I had finished the Chateauneuf, definitely memory-impaired, and the gracious Mr. Slater was pouring me a Banyuls, which I intended just to sample. Oops. That one went down easily.

Petits Fours: I have a vague memory of something paper-thin with almonds, and something chocolate, and something with blueberries. Sorry I can't report better than that.

What was particularly stunning about this meal was the basic simplicity of the dishes. The first was a perfect showcase for the truffle's flavor, but after that, in each dish the main ingredient highlighted the truffles while at the same time the truffles highlighted the main ingredient. And the whole meal was portioned so that we weren't uncomfortably stuffed at the end, merely just past full.

Despite the food coma and hangover I'm now suffering, it was worth it. I think I've written this before, in other threads, but once again I'm stunned that DC has talent like this and yet people are still writing that it's a second-tier food city. They're nuts.

And I love foie gras. :)

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I think I've written this before, in other threads, but once again I'm stunned that DC has talent like this and yet people are still writing that it's a second-tier food city.  They're nuts.

Sounds like a lovely meal, even if I am a white-truffle kinda guy.

Not to start a food-fight here, but one great chef (and Michel Richard is certainly that) does not a great gastronomic scene make. Yes, there is a lot more talent here beyond Chef Richard. But DC isn't a top-tier food city. I hope it becomes one eventually. But it ain't there yet.

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