May 10, 2006


We recently has the luck/fortune to eat at Cityzen in no man's land and Citronelle in G'town on back-to-back weekends.

Let us disclose first that we never really enjoyed Michel Richard's Citronelle all that much. The service we have found to be very standoff-ish unless of course you are a DC glitteratti, i.e. a senator. Once on a birthday visit, the staff refused to alter the three-cheese cheeseplate-filled with goat cheese though one diner did not like goat cheese. All we were asking for was a little Brie, nothing special. At that price they could have accommodated us.

Anyway, the presentations at Citronelle were very nice, the food challenging but not tasty; reminds us of the 1980s. The fish I ordered was overly strong (ok perhaps a poor selection on my part). The mosaic appetizer (colorful shaved meats and veggies designed to look like a stained glass window) was great to look at, but not all that enjoyable. A lamb dish was very tasty but nothing special. Even the overly precise service felt dated.

At Cityzen, I was truly wowed. Textures and flavors were combined in new ways. Mushroom foam over truffles. Molten lobster pastry. The beef was tender and very flavorful. We still talk about the salted caramel served over the chocolate dessert. This place is extraordinary and well worth the accolades that Food & Wine Magazine ("One of the Hottest Restaurants in the World," May 2006) have awarded chef Eric Zeibold.

No doubt we are lucky to have a chef of Richard's pedigree here in DC, but Ziebold's arrival is a signal of how times have changed.

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