Posts Tagged ‘Michel Richard


Michel Richard knows his way around a dessert

Napoleon a la Michel

Now that’s a napoleon (mille-feuille)!

A while back, I had the good fortune of stuffing my face at a work lunch at Central in downtown DC, a Michel Richard joint. The chef’s known for his playful turn with foods (as well as looking a lot like Santa Claus).

A profile of Richard that ran in The Washington Post many years ago revealed one of his culinary inspirations: KFC’s fried chicken. Yup, his haute cuisine is inspired by the Colonel. That gives you some insight into why his creations, sweet or savory, are big on contrasting textures and often have a crispy element.

Michel's crunch bar from Central

Those of us who didn’t order Michel’s crunch bar were jealous of those who did.

Without further ado, here’s a rundown of the 3 Central desserts we tried.

The restaurant’s best-known treat is Michel’s chocolate bar, the chef’s Kit Kat-inspired happy ending. This was chocolate-y without being cloying, and had a nice crispy texture. If you’re unsure which dessert to try, go with this one. It was the all-around favorite.

The gimungous size and presentation of my napoleon made for some envious looks around the table. But the layered pastry and cream, while delicious, needed a little kick. A drizzle of chocolate or fruit puree, or even the traditional napoleon icing, would’ve made for less monotonous eating. It’s unusual that I don’t finish a dessert, but I left some of this on the plate.

The disappointing lemon bar from Central.

The lemon tart didn’t find many fans at our table.

My comrades in gustatory indulgence who ordered this lemon tart weren’t super happy with it. It’s a layer of shortbread topped with bland lemon mousse topped with meringue. Next to the more showstopping dessert options, this one’s a dud.

A peek at Central DC's kitchen.

Central’s kitchen, where the pastry magic happens.


Cuisine Solutions orange souffles

We’ve been on a Cuisine Solutions kick lately, after learning that Citronelle’s Michel Richard gets his braised shortribs from this company (isn’t that cheating?). For their meats, they use a special sous vide cooking process, where food is cooked at a low temperature for a long time to preserve its texture, flavor, etc.

This box of souffles is not cheap at $34.99 including S&H from Costco’s website (we haven’t seen these in their stores). With 4 souffles per box, you’re totally paying fancy-restaurant rates for dessert–only you have to heat it up yourself! (Correction, June 14: You actually get 8 for that price.)

These souffles cook in the oven in about 15 minutes. I enjoyed the marshmallowy texture, complemented by a sugar-cookie base.

But the orange coulis. What a letdown. It reminded me of the canisters of frozen Minute Maid concentrate that my mom bought when we were kids. Didn’t taste fresh–I probably could have done better by juicing and zesting some navel oranges, reducing the liquid over the stove with a bit of sugar.


Dessert time at Citronelle

We celebrated a special occasion by going to the massively overhyped, overpriced Citronelle. Here are ocitronelle-018ur desserts: some amuse-bouche type mini desserts, passionfruit souffle and creme brulee.citronelle-016Though they wowed us visually, these were not as exciting to eat as they were to behold. We were expecting more from famed chef Michel Richard, the guy known for doing innovative desserts that look like an egg breakfast (no longer on the menu, alas).

PS: Excuse the blown-out photos. I have a mental block against reading the camera manual. Woe is the blog left to the mercy of my (lack of) photography skills.