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Restaurants & Bars 2

Great Georgetown Hidden Gem

Food Guru | Apr 16, 2003 11:01 PM

This past weekend my wife and I were strolling through georgetown and stumbled across a truly special hidden gem. Tucked beneath a nondescript hotel, literally in an alley near M Street, is a hotel restaurant that is anything but a "hotel restaurant." It is Michael Richard's Citronele. It apparently has been open for some time but you wouldn't know it, with the DC food press' fascination (obsession!) with the same, tired "elite" restaurants (we all know what they are: Sesto Senso, The Prime Rib, Vivo, etc.) I would suggest that the critics get off their high horses and try this place. When we were there the place was doing great business -- no doubt full with tourists who haven't been brainwashed into thinking that a hotel restaurant that receives no press must be inferior to the current culinary darlings, merely because it is a hotel restaurant that receives no press. That it depends upon the tourist / business traveler dollar no doubt explains the ludicrously high prices. This is my only complaint: this surely is not a place for those who are uncomfortable spending a LOT of (their own) money on food. In any case, this place is extraordinary -- easily on a par with DC's "elite." Apparently the chef and owner -- Michael Richard -- is known nationally as a top toque. He developed quite a reputation while cooking in a San Francisco restaurant. Why he has not drawn acclaim here is a mystery. Maybe it is the location -- a pretty and interesting dining room to be sure, but literally in the basement of an anonymous, off the beaten path hotel. Maybe it is those indefensibly high prices, which surely keep away most rank and file Washingtonians. Whatever the reason, there is no denying that this place deserves to be considered in DC's top echelon of restaurants. Sort of makes you wonder what other hidden gems are out there, waiting to be discovered. I guess that's why they made chowhounds!

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