there were four restaurants that i kind of targeted going to DC. cityzen, minibar, citronelle and central michel richard. lunch on friday was my most open option for one of those, and for a number of reasons central michel richard was the best choice.
i got there as they were unlocking the doors and sat at the bar. by the time i was done with my appetizer, the place was packed.
i started with the spinach and goat cheese tort, which was like a very fine green custard on top of a phyllo crust and topped with little chunks of green bean. the goat cheese wasn't terribly discernible, but the smooth texture with the crisp bean pieces was nice. there was lightly dressed frisee on the side.
for the entree, i had the pied de cochon. pig's foot. my only previous experience with pig's feet was going to the stop and go in oviedo and seeing that gallon bottle at the checkout filled with a not-to-be-found-in-nature red liquid and a bunch of gelatinous science fair project rejects. never had one, but saw them.
this was NOTHING like that.
it was a foot that was braised and picked clean of bones, then mixed with mushroom formed into a perfect cylinder, breaded and fried. it was huge. the meat was crazy tender and it was served with a really rich sauce that made an already huge portion feel even bigger. seriously, if it had been half the size, that would've been ok. it came with onion straws and more frisee, this with little lardons. mmmmm, bacon. it was also supposed to come with mashed potatoes, but i subbed out for mac and cheese, and it was not surprisingly really, really rich. the surprising thing was that the little cast iron pan held penne pasta that seemed to be perfectly aligned. was it a coincidence, or is it someone's job to line up all the mac in the mac and cheese? don't know. impressive, tho.
for dessert -- and i had to consider skipping dessert because i was pushing full -- i was choosing between the "candy bar" and an apple dessert. the bartender was describing the two to me, and the woman sitting next to me leaned over, grabbed my arm and said, "get the candy bar. it may kill you, but it's worth it."
that's an endorsement. and it was accurate. it was like a giant kit-kat bar, chocolate mousse over a layer of crispy candy and a hazelnut sauce. again, i would not have felt cheated if it had been half the size. but it was not. so i felt stuffed.
here was the cool thing about central: i felt like i was the only person at the bar that the bartender and wait staff didn't personally know. they knew them by name. they knew what they liked to drink, they knew what they had one day last year, they knew how they liked their hamburger cooked and what they liked on it. it was crazy. i want to be a regular there.