Saturday, March 08, 2008

Citronelle

So tonight we went to Citronelle for Gibby's birthday dinner (he turns 22 on Monday) with his mom and grandma. For those who are unfamiliar with Citronelle, the head chef is Michel Richard, who has won a ton of awards, has been on the Food Network a bunch of times, and is entirely awesome. Citronelle was recently voted the number 1 restaurant in DC by Washingtonian magazine and has consistently received amazing reviews. Not only is it known for good food, but it is also known for Michel Richard's innovative way of presenting his food. And oh, boy did he present it well! Which was great, considering the price! It is super crazy expensive. But so worth it.

Gibby and me in front of Citronelle after our meal:
us

Immediately upon entering the restaurant, we literally ran into Michel Richard. I almost peed myself. We shook his hand and I said something wicked lame like "I am so excited to meet you!" and he said ok and continued on his way. But at that point, my night was already made. Food came second to meeting one of the greatest culinary icons alive today.

The three-course prix fixe meal started off with some amuse bouche (little tastings) and some delicious bread. There were little tiny pieces of fried chicken in a honey dijon sauce. I didn't eat any (obviously) but Gibby said it was the best fried chicken of all time. There was also a single hardboiled quail egg atop smoked salmon - which kind of scared me at first (WTF does a quail egg taste like?!) but I trusted Chef Richard and ate it anyway. And it was delicious!

Then we ordered crazy appetizers. Gibby ordered "Lobster Beluga Pasta," which we envisioned as a little pasta dish with some lobster in it. Wrong! Arriving in a caviar dish, it appeared to be a huge container of caviar. It turns out that it was pearled pasta dyed black with squid ink to resemble caviar, with pieces of tender lobster throughout. It was on a bed of "ice," which actually was a pile of glass stones. It was so awesome and was delicious.

Here is a picture. It was dark and I suck with photoshop so deal with it.
not caviar

For my appetizer, I ordered the infamous "Egg Symphony." I have heard wonderful things about it - 4 items that arrive looking like eggs, but they aren't eggs! AND IT WAS TRUE!! I was so entertained. One square had what appeared to be sliced eggs and tomatoes, but it was specially dyed mozzarella cheese slices atop tomatoes with a basil dressing. One square had what appeared to be a fried egg, but it was actually a cheese tart with a yellow bell pepper circle on top as the "yolk." Another square looked like a soft-boiled egg in an egg cup, but it was a creme fraiche with some cheesy crackers in it. And one looked like scrambled eggs, but it was actually saffron-scented lobster. Soooo awesome.

I took a picture of that one too, and then realized the lighting was so bad that I didn't take any more.
not eggs

Also of note is that Gibby's grandma ordered some oyster shooters topped with avocado foam (Mr. Richard is very into the foam lately... more on that later) but she felt they were too spicy so I don't know how they really were. Nancy (Gibby's mom) got a tuna napoleon nicoise and it was beautiful. She loved it, except the sardine, which she gently placed on the side of her plate.

On to entrees!
*I ordered sablefish in a miso-sake glaze. It was amazingly fantastic (yay fish!) and came with some delicious vegetables. LOVED it.
*Gibby ordered chateaubriand (fancy steak!) which came topped with some small chinese green beans, a side of amazing vegetables, and a potato cake that was mashed potatoes and some sort of cheese (maybe Fontina??) covered in crispies similar to a panko. Gibby reports it was delicious, a very good steak, and the concept of having very thinly cut green beans on it was amazing, and the pairing with the potatoes was genius. He had a glass of Cabernet with it but did not like it. We aren't really wine people.
*Gibby's mom got skate stuffed with crab, which came with some roasted cauliflower and pearled onions. I have never seen her eat so much in my life. She said it was amazing.
*Grandma ordered squab with a foie-gras sauce (ugh to foie gras, but whatever), which came with a delicious macaroni and cheese. She ate most of her squab, which was awesome because she usually doesn't eat more than a few bites of anything.

After our entrees, we were presented with another tiny surprise plate. This time it was a little white square of orange foam-mousse topped with orange-passion fruit sauce. It was INCREDIBLE. The foam-mousse disintegrates in your mouth. It's the weirdest feeling but it was so delicious and such an interesting experience.

Then came dessert, yay! Grandma got a cheese plate and was too full to eat most of it. Nancy got a creme brulee topped with fruit and she ate the whole thing. Shocking since she usually avoids sugar!

Gibby got the Chocolate Degustation, one of the legendary desserts. It has four components. The first was a tiny chocolate tart topped with edible gold flecks and raspberry sauce. It was "alright." Then there was a frozen chocolate mousse on a popsicle stick that was absolutely delicious (I ate part of it, haha). In another part of the plate, there was a white chocolate gelatin mold covered in chocolate chips and butterscotch sauce, which Gibby really enjoyed. And finally, there was a hazelnut chocolate bar (sort of resembling a Kit-Kat), which Gibby has proclaimed the "best dessert ever."

I got the other legendary dessert: Breakfast at Citronelle! I figured if I'd started with the egg theme, I might as well finish with the egg theme. Mine came with 5 components: pancakes, bacon, sausage, a fried egg, and some hash browns with ketchup. BUT OH WAIT, NONE WERE WHAT THEY SEEMED. The pancakes were thin sweet crepes with a fruity filling and topped with vanilla ice cream. I LOVED the pancakes. The "bacon" was actually long, thin cookies. The sausage was a weirdly textured chocolate bar that was pretty cool. The fried egg was a saucer of coconut cream with some mango mousse in the center and was sooooo good. And the hash browns were tender cooked apple cubes topped with a raspberry sauce.

Seriously. Who thinks of this???? Michel Richard, that is who.

This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for us because there is no way we'll ever be able to afford to go back, ever. I won't even tell you how much it cost because it's horrific. But it was so worth it, because we didn't just get delicious food, we got an exciting experience that was fun and adventurous. It is very memorable. We are very happy and still very full!!! YAY MICHEL RICHARD, VIVA CITRONELLE!

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