After years of living in the foodie shadow of the entire eastern seaboard—New York, Miami, even Boston—D.C. recently, somewhat surprisingly, leapt to the major leagues. Laurent Tourondel’s BLT Steak turned up here, and most significantly, Wolfgang Puck just unveiled a chic new concept restaurant called the Source just down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol building. His trusted on-site chef, Scott Drewno (formerly of Chinois and Spago and Jean-Georges’s Vong in New York), makes Modern American cuisine with Asian influences in the formal upstairs dining area. Downstairs, the bar and lounge area features a more casual menu with Puck’s signature pizzas—straight out of the wood burning oven—and Kobe sliders.
About a year ago, local culinary hero Michel Richard (known for his Georgetown classic Michel Richard Citronelle) opened Central Michel Richard, a more casual bistro downtown. Here, Richard leaves behind much of his finicky Frenchness in favor of a master chef’s take on American standards, like an unbelievably good lobster burger served on a brioche bun.
Adding to the new casual chic of D.C.’s new dining scene is another out-of-town star-chef transplant, Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin. His Westend Bistro opened last November in the celebrity-friendly Ritz-Carlton and serves “simple food carefully prepared,” says chef Leonardo Marino who worked in a kitchen with Ripert for five years. Try the fish burger with fennel, oven-roasted tomatoes, and aïolia version of a staff-meal favorite at Le Bernardin.