Mike Berman’s Washington Watch

November 19, 2011 11:54 AM

Restaurant: Citronelle


3030 M Street NW (in the Latham Hotel)
Washington, DC 20007
Debbie, Mike T, Maureen, Peggy, Chris, and I went to Citronelle on a Saturday night. It was a joint celebration of the birthdays of Debbie, Mike T, Maureen, and Chris.

The restaurant can be entered directly from 30th Street or through the lobby of the Latham Hotel. Entry requires navigating a couple of sets of stairs within the restaurant, and elevator access is available.

There are two levels of general seating that include a number of tiny rooms or areas that offer almost total privacy. Table sizes range from two to eight persons. There is also a chef’s table immediately adjacent to and within the glass enclosure of the kitchen.

There is a full glassed in view of the entire kitchen, which appears as spotless as a surgical operating room. It sits a few feet lower than the dining floor, which makes the view of kitchen operations particularly revealing.

From the moment you enter the restaurant there is attention to your every need and interest that is really above that of any other local restaurant.

This will not be an ordinary restaurant description. I could not begin to describe the various dishes which each of us ate, particularly since the descriptions in the menu are simply different than most other restaurants. And the menu description generally does not fully describe the dish. One member of our party said that the item descriptions play pleasant tricks on you as to the preparation of each dish. Fortunately, the persons who take your order and attend to your every need during the evening can describe each dish with exquisite detail without benefit of notes.

Suffice it to say, our group, with only five of us partaking, consumed three bottles of wine.

The chairs are sturdy and comfortable, with leather/cushioned yellow backs and seats that are yellow or orange.

There is no restaurant in D.C. that comes close to the elegance, quality of food and service that is provided at Citronelle. (The Inn at Little Washington is in this class of restaurants, but is not quite Citronelle.)

There are two sections to the menu. In one section, there are a variety of dishes listed from which you can select 10. However, everyone in your party must agree to eat exactly the same 10 dishes. In the other section of the menu there are sections from which you can select an appetizer, an entrée and ultimately a dessert. Each person can select separately.

The previously mentioned chef’s table seats 6-8 people. The cost is $350 per person for food and wine pairing. It is a 10 course meal. The wines are matched to each dish.

The restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday in the evening. There are seatings beginning at 6:00 p.m. and ending at 9:30 p.m. Be prepared to be a little flexible when you make your reservation. Arrivals are staggered so as to accommodate the rhythm and capacity of the kitchen. It is never too early to make your reservation if you are planning dinner at Citronelle as part of a special occasion.

It is correctly described as expensive.

At the entry point to the restaurant there is a bar and lounge area with a more limited/short order menu that is priced more moderately.

The men’s room is, as you would expect, pristine and clean. The floor and the walls, up to just above waist height, are covered with large, light tan tiles. The walls above the tile are green. Immediately upon entering there is a black tile counter into which are sunk two white ceramic washbasins and above is a mirror that completely covers the wall. To the right of the sink there are two white ceramic mid-wall urinals with gold appearing fixtures. Directly opposite the urinals there is a completely enclosed commode room with a single white ceramic commode.

There is valet parking at $15 for the evening.

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