Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Lunch at Michel (a guest review)

I have never done this before, but because of my own slacking off in terms of posting (which I justify as reasonable since I'm not sure I will be continuing this blog in August once medical school starts), I am publishing a guest post here.  This review is actually written and photographed by my hilarious older sister.  She wrote it a while back and emailed it to me, but for some reason I never read it (Sorry, L., I love you!) until today.  And it had me laughing out loud.  I've already reviewed this restaurant, but this is another perspective, on different dishes.  So here it is: my sister's debut as a restaurant critic.

Our parents had to cancel their trip to Madrid this April due to our grandfather’s declining health. To make up for missing Madrid, my father had made reservations for my mother and him at the relatively new restaurant Michel, located at the Tysons Corner Ritz-Carlton. Unfortunately, my mother had to schedule a last minute transatlantic flight to take care of her parents a couple days after returning from Paris. My father then selected me as his second choice lunch date. Normally I’d feel a little offended about being someone’s back up choice, but in this case I happily agreed as quickly as I could, giving him no time to reconsider.

Michel is owned by the same French chef of the acclaimed restaurant Citronelle in Georgetown. He also owns Central Michel Richard, one of my favorite restaurants in DC (and a dining establishment I can afford to eat at without needing to sell an organ). Central has a special place in my heart because I’ve spent numerous milestone events here. My family took me here for my 21st birthday, I watched the results of the 2008 election here, and I have celebrated numerous anniversaries with Central’s famous Kit Kat chocolate bar. I actually took an ex-boyfriend who’s idea of fine dining (until he met me) was Outback Steakhouse and Olive Garden to Central. Clearly, this boy desperately needed an eye-opening dining experience. Our meal changed him from thinking bloomin onions was an acceptable appetizer and brought him over to the dark side of steak tartare, pate, and goat cheese.

Back to Michel. The restaurant is located in the exact same space as the late Maestro, on lobby floor in the Ritz. The modern décor makes the dining room seem spacious and colorful, and the large wine cases remind me of the design at Central. There is a large exhibition kitchen, and we were seated at a table right in front of it.

Our waitress brought us over the menu and we mulled over the choices. My dad decided to go with the three  course lunch special for $21 (Chicken Soup with Herb Ravioli, Salmon with Green Lentils, fruit mousse) which is pretty much highway robbery since his entrée ordered a la carte would cost $22. I decided to just order the Beef Bourguignon with Egg Noodles.

The bread was warm, light as air (this obviously changed as soon as I glopped a pound of their soft butter on it) with an impossibly crunchy crust. I munched on the bread as my dad sipped (by sipped I mean gulped) on his soup. The Chicken Soup with Herb Ravioli was perfect for such a dreary, cold day. It was a tad salty, but very flavorful nonetheless. The herb ravioli was delicious and had a hint of oregano.  The mini croutons that they threw in the soup were a nice surprise.

Then came the main courses. My dad approved of his Salmon with Green Lentils. The salmon tasted fresh. I actually liked that the waitress asked my dad how well done he wanted his salmon (being presented with overdone fish at a restaurant is such a disappointment), and it indeed was cooked perfectly like he ordered. The lentils were also cooked perfectly (not at all mushy!) and were a nice accompaniment to the the fish.

I really enjoyed the Beef Bourguignon with Egg Noodles. The cubed meat was tender and seasoned well.  The noodles weren’t drenched in sauce, and the sweet pearl onions added another dimension to the dish. The portions were generous, and my dad ended up having to help me finish (although the bread I consumed as a side to obscene amount of butter I was inhaling may have factored into this).

Then, it was time for dessert!!!! My dad had the fruit mousse (pineapple, mango and coconut). I debated between the chocolate bar which I have had three times already, and trying something new.  I always agonize over dessert when I’ve enjoyed my meal thus far, because the idea of finishing with a mediocre dessert as the final note seems heart-breaking to me.

The waitress patiently explained every dessert to me, and I finally ended up ordering the Pot de Crème. It was a rich vanilla crème, with a caramel on top, along with crunchy chocolate mini balls and came with two lightly caramelized cracker things. It was delicious.  The vanilla crème had the consistency of flan, and aromatic without being overpowering. The crunchy chocolate balls added an extra punch of flavor and texture to the creamy mix of vanilla and caramel. My dad’s mousse was light and fruity without tasting artificial. I might be biased towards chocolate, but I preferred my calorically decadent dessert a bit more.

My father claimed that the one complaint he had conerning the desserts were that they were too rich for lunchtime. At first I vehemently disagreed, but an hour later as I fought an overwhelming food coma, I could see his point. Returning to work was difficult. After such a delicious meal, it seemed almost insulting to return to my desk and work on protocols.

Overall, my dad and I both gave Michel a B+. A solidly delicious meal, but not a knockout.

1700 Tysons Blvd
McLean, VA 22102
Tel. 703-506-4300

1 comment:

  1. Interesting to hear L's perspective on a restaurant previously reviewed. Fun to read as well.