Looking for Urban at Sub-Urban Michel (closed)


Anniversary dinner.  This certainly calls for a restaurant in Washingtonian‘s Top 40.  I make a reservation at Bistro Bis.  My husband isn’t psyched so I cancel it.  I make a reservation at Corduroy.  My husband is going to be in the Tyson’s area for work so we probably won’t make it there in time.  Tyson’s area?  Michel at the Ritz Carlton is on my to do list, so it’s the obvious choice.

Michel is Michel Richard’s third restaurant in the area, following Citronelle (where we had a fabulous anniversary meal a few years ago) and Central (one of my very favorite restaurants in DC).

Have you ever gone somewhere expecting a really good meal, had a really good meal, but you still felt like something was missing?  This was my experience at Michel.  Perhaps I was trying to turn the more upscale and sophisticated Michel into something it isn’t….the hip and urban restaurant that is Central.

We begin with bread. I like it.  It is crusty on the outside, chewy on the inside, and warm.  The butter is soft and spreadable.  This is a good start. Why don’t more restaurants understand the importance of warm bread and spreadable butter? It’s so simple.

We indulge ourselves by sharing the gougères (cheese puffs) anda goat cheese Caesar salad.  These are both dishes we have had at Central.  I think that the gougères should be warm (they are not) but the server tells us they are not intended to be, so we leave them as is. I still wish they were warm.

We find the salad a bit drier than the Central version, with a little less goat cheese.  It’s very good either way.

My husband absolutely adores his entree, which is salmon with lentils. The fish is cooked perfectly and he absolutely raves about the lentils and the potato crisps atop the salmon.  We’ve come to appreciate Michel Richard’s signature crispy touches to his dishes, and this one does not disappoint.

I have difficulty deciding on an entree.  There are a few beef choices but the preparations don’t appeal to me. There is a tuna steak with an Asian preparation that interests me, but I waiver.  I settle on the lobster burger, which is also on the menu at Central.  I have to say that I love every bite of the “burger” which consists of chunks of lobster meat with a scallop mousse binding.  It is decadent and delicious.  I do not regret this choice for a second.

We share apple tatin for dessert. I am looking forward to one of my favorite flavor combination’s of apple and caramel, but we find it a little lacking.  I should have had the profiteroles, my second choice.

The meal overall is quite good, but I’m afraid that I don’t quite appreciate Michel for what it is. You can’t turn a hotel restaurant in a suburban mall into its trendier, more casual older sibling.  It may have been my bad for trying.

My husband and I have had to take separate cars since we’ve both come from work.  I’m still feeling the wine, so I encourage him to head home while I work off the effects of the wine with a little shopping.  On second thought, forget hip and trendy.  There definitely is an upside to dining at a restaurant in a mall.
Michel, 1700 Tysons Boulevard, McLean, Virginia
My rating (on a 1-5 scale):   4.0
# 32 Washingtonian‘s 100 Very Best Restaurants 2011

Washingtonian review 

Michel on Urbanspoon

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