Two stars restaurants
In this first selection, three restaurants have been awarded two stars: Mini Bar, where under the eyes of his customers, chef Jose Andres offers particularly avant-garde and innovative cuisine in the form of a tasting menu featuring whimsical and fun dishes;Pineapple & Pearls, opened earlier this year by chef Aaron Silverman, has perfectly flavoured dishes reflecting a wide range of influences; and The Inn at Little Washington, which is outside of Washington and has long offered the classic and eclectic French cuisine in a stunning setting, all of which is orchestrated by celebrity chef Patrick.
Culinary chemistry is on display at minibar by José Andrés, the avant-garde culinary lab for a locally-beloved celebrity chef. The tasting menu showcases a series of whimsical, playful, and thought-provoking dishes prepared right in front of the guests (seated at a kitchen-facing counter). Even if Chef Andrés is not in the kitchen, the talented team solidly performs. While dishes are innovative and playful, flavors are excellent and techniques are precise; a meal here is solidly at a two-star level.
Pineapple and Pearls
Next door to his Rose’s Luxury, Chef Aaron Silverman’s fine-dining venture Pineapple and Pearls opened this year and was an instant hit. Even though this is a tasting menu experience, it is clear that they aren’t taking themselves too seriously and the food is exceptional yet fun because of this. There are a wide range of influences in the dishes, from Japanese to Southern BBQ. A meal at Pineapple and Pearls is a more refined and elevated display of Chef Silverman’s unique style and was a very convincing two star.
The Inn at Little Washington
Nestled in a tiny Virginia town on the edge of Shenandoah National Park about 70 miles from the nation’s capital, The Inn at Little Washington has long been the domain of Chef Patrick O’Connell and a destination in itself. The remote establishment began life as a garage built in the late 1890s, and has evolved since opening in 1978 into a culinary campus with guestrooms, a farmer’s market, and shops.
This much-lauded Southern getaway was built for celebrating special occasions. More is more when it comes to the décor of these dining rooms—tapestries, tasseled silk lampshades, billowing fabrics, and floral patterns produce a riotous sense of opulence. Tables are elegantly set with the chef’s personal collection of implements, some of which he has designed himself.
Guests choose from three tasting menus highlighting American cuisine often prepared using local product pulled from the restaurant’s own gardens. Chilled veal tongue arrives with pickled vegetables and horseradish and mustard ice cream; while fried soft-shell crabs are sauced with orange and ginger. A perfectly seared duck breast gets a drizzle of brandied cherries plucked from the on-site orchard.
"Over the last five years the culinary offering has significantly developed in the city, driven by chefs who have travelled, have trained abroad and have enriched their cuisine on their return by incorporating new techniques, new flavours, and new seasonings," saysMichael Ellis, International Director of the Michelin guides. "This gastronomic revival is amplified and supported by the "Mid-Atlantic cuisine" led by young chefs who have decided to take advantage of their terroir and work local products, thereby giving Washington a unique culinary identity."
Figureheads in this "Mid-Atlantic cuisine", the restaurant Rose's Luxury, opened by chef Aaron SILVERMAN, and The Dabney, run by chef Jeremiah LANGHORNE, have been awarded one star in this first selection for the MICHELIN Guide Washington.
Rose’s Luxury is a fun, laidback place that serves a menu mostly of shared smaller plates. Unexpected flavor combinations surprise and dishes are interesting yet delicious. Chef Aaron Silverman is a DC area local (grew up in Maryland) yet his cooking blends local ingredients with very international flavors; Rose’s Luxury remains one of the most difficult tables to score in the city (no reservations – hour+ long waits). This is a playful, interesting, and unique one star establishment.
High-profile and buzz-worthy, this is a chef-driven establishment. Chef Jeremiah Langhorne is a Virginia-native and he has interned at Noma where he learned about foraging, and has cooked at Sean Brock’s McCrady’s in Charleston, SC. The chef is clear in using his menu to promote Mid-Atlantic cuisine in an updated way: ramp custard, pan-fried Chesapeake catfish, buttermilk pie with fresh-made strawberry jam.
Seven other restaurants have been awarded one star –the Blue Duck Tavern, Kinship, Plume,Tail Up Goat, the Italian restaurants Masseria and Fiola and finally the Japanese restaurant Sushi Taro.
Blue Duck Tavern
At the Park Hyatt, The Blue Duck Tavern is much more than a hotel dining room. The chic Americana setting draws the city’s elite and while the appointments are gorgeous the setting feels relaxed. The open kitchen is the room’s focal point practically placing diners in the midst of the action.
The product-driven cuisine calls on the local area’s (mostly, but not solely) finest products and the menu’s farm-to-table vibe incorporates the wood-burning oven. Chef de Cuisine Brad DeBoy has worked at BDT since 2013 and was promoted to chef de cuisine in Sep 2014.
Eric Ziebold has an impressive pedigree, having worked for Thomas Keller at The French Laundry and as opening chef at Per Se. After numerous stints in DC (predominantly at the Mandarin Oriental), Ziebold has settled on Kinship, which he opened at the beginning of 2016. The stylish contemporary dining room is home to a very personal expression of Ziebold’s philosophy on food. It is an excellent convergence of simple, skillful cooking and high quality ingredients.
This dining room at The Jefferson Hotel is a luxurious, special occasion-worthy destination. Classically-trained Ralf Schlegel has been Plume’s Executive Chef since 2011. His many years as an apprentice in Europe directly influence his cuisine, which has an Old World sensibility though it is made with local and seasonal ingredients. While not the most exciting dining, the quality is assured and the comfort is unrivaled.
Tail Up Goat
The trio running this hot spot are Chef Jon Sybert, who worked as sous chef at Komi for 9 years; his wife Jill Tyler, former service director from Little Serow; and Bill Jenson, the former beverage director at Little Serow and Komi.The extensive, product-driven, Mediterranean-minded menu allows diners to graze and share and craft their own tasting menu of sorts—a tasting menu without the tyranny. The menu is highly creative and unexpected. Bread is a strong theme of the menu’s narrative, like charred chocolate rye with salt-baked sardines.
The curious name is explained on the website and was reiterated to me by my server, but is worth mentioning: Partner Jill Tyler (wife of Chef Jon Sybert) grew up on the US Virgin Islands and the moniker refers to the island saying to differentiate between goat and sheep: tail up goat, tail down sheep.
Chef Nicholas Stefanelli takes great care in making each dish shine with the bright flavors of his family’s beloved region, Puglia. Masseria’s location is a perfect setting for this trailblazing young chef. With so many Italian leaning restaurants populating this city, Masseria stands out for its contemporary take on the dishes of Puglia and for a setting that could have been plucked from the uber-chic countryside of Southern Italy.
Fabio Trabocchi has been a major fixture on the DC dining scene for years; clearly he and his team know how to welcome diplomats and politicians of all stripes. Chef Trabocchi is safe in providing globe trotters sophisticated Italian fare not Italian-American red sauce-loaded dishes. Fiola is the most elegant spot of his restaurant collection; its location can make anyone envious. There is nothing rustic about this Italian beauty, not in the sublime and surprising flavor combinations, or the elegant setting. But most important, Chef Trabocchi elevates pasta to sublime levels.
This longstanding DC favorite opened in 1986, and was taken over in 2003 by brothers Nobu and Jin Yamazaki, the sons of the original owners. Nobu is the chef alongside Masaya Kitayama; Jin runs the front of the house.
Sushi Taro offers numerous sushi and set menu options but the star here is specifically for the omakase that is served at the hidden counter in the back of the dining room.
The omakase is an incredibly intimate experience. The signature point arrives when the chefs unveil boxes of fish to be used for the evening’s sashimi and nigiri, allowing guests to choose for themselves from the incredible bounty.
The MICHELIN Guide Washington 2017 is available on the MICHELIN Restaurants US application, and is available in bookstores at $12.95.
The MICHELIN Guide Washington 2017 is available on line.