Central Michel Richard (Ree-shard, not like how you would pronounce Richard, in Richard Nixon) is an absolute classic in Washington’s dining scene. Some moons ago, it won the James Beard Award for the best new restaurant; as the chef so eloquently says on his website, “This is my American bistro, with a French accent.” It is indeed. It is also in the Top 20 of the Washingtonian Top 100 list for 2016, which we’ve been trying to check off as part of our stomach-bucket list (see #4, #71).
So off we went to Central this fall. Truth be told, I’ve been obsessed with Central for some time because they offered a lobster burger. It’s no longer on the menu (not sure if it has been removed, or if it was seasonal), but to be honest, that’s ok. It was good, but nothing beats lobster meat in a lobster roll or just cracking open your own lobster. Or those lobster pot pies I made this weekend with 4 lobster tails. We’ll get back to the lobster burger in a quick sec…
To start, we had the Provencal Calamari, which is easily one of the best calamari dishes I’ve had all year. And I eat a lot of squid. First off–it’s not breaded, as all good calamari should (not) be. It was soft, tender, and plentiful. Even though it was an appetizer, there was plenty for both DH and I and we aren’t small eaters. It had just the perfect amount of spice, plus olives, peppers, tomatoes, etc. I would go back to Central over and over and order this again. We were off to a delightful start.
DH ordered the scallops for dinner, and they were a hit. I can’t say they were the best scallops all year, but they were very, very good. In much the same American with a French twist style of the calamari, the scallops were perfectly seared with some succotash-type foundation. Since I’m not a huge corn person, I wasn’t super excited about that, but it tasted good.
As I mentioned, I had to have the burger I’ve been lusting over for a very long time: the lobster burger. Ok, so conceptually I sort of understood what a lobster burger would be like, but I guess I really just didn’t think through the taste + texture + burger. Texture wise, it reminded me much of a mahi-mahi burger. Yes, it did taste like lobster no doubt, but it was smushed together highly dense lobster. It was tasty and I’m so glad I finally had a lobster burger, don’t get me wrong, but not sure I would order it again. I really prefer fluffy lobster claw meat to a burger-type lobster.
Overall, Central lived up to its reputation: it has solid food that is very American with a French twist. I appreciate the fact that it is not small plates/tapas and has traditional yet delicious food. Central would be a great place for a work lunch downtown, a happy hour with delicious appetizers, or before/after the theater (they have a great menu option for that as well). Finally, it’s a place where you can take fussy eaters and pronounce the components of the dish.
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