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My daughter's 15th Birthday at CENTRAL / Michel Richard

Time really flies and can't believe that I have an 18 year old son in college and a daughter who has turned 15 today. There was a time when my daughter was not interested in anything except pasta and she always wanted to go to Italian restaurants. Her birthday was around the corner and I asked her where she wanted to go out for dinner. Usually, she had her pet choices and would always suggest some of the national chains like Olive Garden, Macaroni grill or at times, Cheesecake Factory. This time she told me - Dad why don't you pick the place and surprise me.

As usual I was busy with the restaurants and on Friday night, was wondering where would I take her for dinner? It was already late Friday night, and even If I decided on a place, I was afraid that I would not get reservations for Saturday evening. Late on Friday night, I posted this question on Donrockwell.com and many of them gave me a lot of suggestions and lot of them e-mailed me with their choices and where they took their 15 year olds. We were contemplating between Eric Ripert's Westend Bistro and Michel Richard's Central. Finally a friend of ours was able to get us a table at central at 6 P.M and a lovely table in front of the kitchen.

My son Rahul who is a freshman at the Smith Business School in University of Md.was also able to join the family for this birthday dinner. We were greeted very graciously by the hostess and taken to the table. My wife had a Margarita, My daughter Rathi had a"Shirley temple" (I guess she has to grow out of it) and I had a glass of Malbec ( El felino,Paul Hobbs, Mendoza region of Argentina). The drinks were served very promptly and as my son had just come from college directly he seemed to be a bit hungry and starting attacking the hot and fresh bread that was served.

We ordered "Gougeres" -(cheese puffs), French onion soup, and Mushroom pearl pasta risotto for starters. The starters were all terrific - the risotto was creamy and rich with mushrooms, the French onion soup had a lot of flavor and the cheese puffs were very light and fluffy with cheese oozing out of the puffs. It brought back some nostalgic memories of my days spent in New Delhi With my French chef and mentor Monsieur Roger Moncourt. Within minutes, without realizing I started giving lecture to my kids on how to make a good choux pastry - and started rattling of about various pastries in French cooking.. I could see that these cheese puffs were disappearing quickly and so was the risotto.My wife who is a big fan of French onion soup had most of the soup to herself.

For the main course, my son ordered Mussels with white wine and garlic, my wife ordered the Tuna Burger, the birthday girl ordered Sautéed Scallops with tagliatelle Provencal and I ordered Sautéed Skate wing. The Mussels were big and plump and steamed in its own juice with garlic and white wine. The Broth was very flavorful and we used the bread to soak it up. Each of the entrees was a standout by itself. The skate wing had a nice white wine sauce with capers and served with a few slices of well seasoned grilled tomatoes and green beans sautéed in butter. Five large scallops, with a nice brown crust, soft and tender came on top a tagliatelle(flat ribbon noodles similar to fettucine). By this time we were already stuffed, but could not resist the desserts.

I had heard that Michel Richard started his career as a pastry chef. So we ventured and ordered a banana split and a kit kat bar. The kitchens also send us Michel's famous chocolate mousse on the house. The Banana split came on a long platter topped with pineapple, cream & chocolate - accompanied with a strawberry sorbet, chocolate and vanilla ice cream and a caramel sauce. Rahul polished the kit kat bar and the chocolate mousse was out of this world! Thanks to Gen.Mgr.Brian Zipin and the chef de cuisine Cedric Maupillier for a nice and memorable evening. Cheers! Vinod

CENTRAL –Michel Richard 1001 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington DC20004 202 626 0015

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