Friday, April 23, 2010

Citronelle: Check!

The Washington metro area is home to some incredible fine (i.e. splurge) dining venues. And over the past five years of living here, on celebratory occasions we have been fortunate enough to try the best, including Komi and Restaurant Eve's Tasting Room; however, prior to last night, we had never done Citronelle, which actually predates the others. We have never been disappointed with any of these high-end establishments, and I am happy to report to you, dear readers, that last night was no exception.

Citronelle was nothing short of outstanding. The service is a beautiful yet unobstrusive dance. The food is even more intricate, and playful, but delicate at the same time. The wine list is volumonus, and is dominated by Burgundy vintages. As is the case with Central, Michel Richard has found a way to take the finest local, seasonally appropriate ingredients and reinvent French cuisine in a way that is at once surprising, unique, and supremely flavorful. And while I love writing up all the details of such superior service, I am not going to spoil any surprises here because it is really worth experiencing it. But I loved last night's creative takes on lobster, escargot, veal, and lamb.

We were seated in one of the best tables in the house, where we watched the show that was the extremely disciplined and busy open kitchen. Plus one of B's love-to-hate DC pundits was seated at the table next to us, adding to the drama.

We left the wine selection to newish sommelier, who attentively accounted for our taste preferences, menu choices, and price range. B and I couldn't decide between the two of us whether to go with a Bordeaux or Burgundy, so she brought us the most Bourdeaux-like 1er Cru Burgundy on the list.

We opted to share a cheese course. One of my favorite parts of French dining, this supplement to the regular menu was worth it. We had two French, one Spanish, and one American cheese. The housemade pistachio, almond, raisin dark bread served with the cheese was fantastic.

And it should come as no surprise what my favorite part of the meal was. The picture speaks for itself, but the Chocolate Degustation (above) put me into a euphoric state. And B devoured his towering goodness of "Napoleon Creme Brulee."

This is what I call a rare celebration restaurant, which I think are 100% worth the investment if you value food and enjoy the company of your companion(s). I say investment because there's no such thing as an inexpensive dinner at Citronelle. The three-course prix-fix menu starts at $105 a person, and goes up from there for supplements. We splurged and we enjoyed, and given that we experienced the best of French cuisine--and drink--without the flight, the jet lag, or the exchange rate, in that sense it was a good deal. But last night's experience did rekindle a longing desire to repeat someday our Gallic food field trip of last fall.

Citronelle on Urbanspoon

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