Two DC Chefs Give Their Spin on American Cuisine
Half the fun of discovering a new restaurant is sharing it with people you know will enjoy it. As Rachael Ray’s resident restaurant guru, here’s an inside look at what I report back to Rach about some of my favorite restaurant finds and food experiences!
Sent: Wednesday, August 15, 2012 2:00pm
Subject: Two DC Chefs Give Their Spin on American Cuisine
Hey Rachael- I recently got back from a quick in-and-out day trip to Washington, DC. With a little time to spare between meetings on the front end and back end, take a wild guess what I did. Yep, I ate!
On arrival, I headed to Chef Michel Richard’s Central. Central is a fantastic bistro-style restaurant that is this French chef’s spin on some American dishes. I sat in the lounge and went to town with the menu. First up was the French Onion Soup. I’m always a sucker for a good French Onion Soup, and when the server told me they use a touch of miso in the soup, that sealed the deal – I had to try it. It was brothy and rich with a good-quality cheesy topper, all how a good crock of French Onion should be. Next, I decided to splurge a little bit and went for the Lobster Burger. It was served with salad alongside on a brioche bun with a slice of roasted tomato, a lovely, crisp ground lobster patty, a couple thin discs of potato (see photo) and a dab of their homemade aioli. This was a winner! I could barely put it down, but I managed to get some bites of salad in here and there.
After Central, I followed up my afternoon meeting with a stop at Chef Jose Andres’ America Eats Tavern before heading to the airport. This restaurant used to be Café Atlantico, but was transformed into America Eats, which was a “benefit” destination in support of the National Archives Experience exhibition program. It featured Chef Andres’ spin on classic American dishes, drinks and dessert, each of which included an anecdote about its origin and history on the menu. My server walked me through the menu and helped me select a few things to taste.
As you know, if Buffalo Wings are on the menu, I’m going to order them. Their version was deboned chicken wings that were pan-fried and served with homemade blue cheese dressing. I also ordered their take on Mac and Cheese, called Noodles Cooked in the Style of Pudding. A light but flavorful cheesy sauce topped vermicelli noodles, with a thin yet crisp cheese topper and two pieces of mushroom alongside for a little pop of flavor. Also on the table was their spin on Peanut Butter & Jelly, two three-inch round pieces of bread that were filled with peanut butter and jelly and enclosed. I hate to use this comparison, but it reminded me of those Uncrustables in the freezer section of the grocery store, but better… obviously! The PB&J was served with an individual carafe of milk and homemade potato chips. Last was the Hush Puppies, which truth be told I ordered as a vehicle to taste the Catsup Sampler I ordered. The hush puppies were small round fried cornmeal dumplings served with a sorghum butter that was surprisingly good. For my catsup sampler, I ordered Cherry flavor, Golden Tomato and Jack Daniel’s.
It was hard to overlook the time and effort that was put into this establishment and the creativity behind it. Sorry for the late notice, but I believe their one year run just finished up- that’s my bad- stay tuned for future news from them though.
Central Michel Richard
1001 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20004
America Eats Tavern
405 8th Street NW
Washington, DC 20004
And that’s what’s on my plate!
Andrew “Kappy” Kaplan loves food. A professionally trained chef, by day he runs Yum-o!, Rachael Ray’s charity focused on kids and cooking, and keeps special projects running smoothly for her. By night he hops course to course, place to place, all across the country. He’s Rach’s own personal dining guide! You can also follow Kappy on Twitter to see what’s On Kappy’s Plate in real-time!