Super-Fast Friday: At the Table Soup Assembly

12 Aug

I had lunch with an old friend yesterday. He’s recently moved back to the area after being gone for a long time, and so there was really no choice but to take him to Central Michel Richard.


Yes, my loves, I’ll use any excuse to dine in a Richard restaurant and feed my foodie crush on the master of Happy in the Kitchen. Central is a joy–casual, sophisticated, reasonably priced, and absolutely amazing for the taste buds. In fact, my friend–who is from Chicago–told me the lunch we enjoyed was the best he’s ever had in D.C.

This isn’t an ad for the restaurant, although I highly recommend it if you’re ever in town. I learned a trick at lunch yesterday, see, and I’m sharing it with you.

Michel Richard’s restaurants are all (well, Central and Citronelle are. I haven’t yet tried his new digs in Tysons to know) open-kitchen, with little more than glass separating the dining room from the stoves and grills and marble counters backstage. You’re meant to experience the food from start to finish, not just shovel it down your throat mindlessly. Which means that sometimes, they assemble parts of your meal at the table.

My friend and I both ordered the D.C. Restaurant Week special, which was a soup or salad, entree, and dessert, and we both chose the corn and crab chowder. What I didn’t anticipate was our waiter gently placing a bowl before me that had chunks of crab, corn kernels, and some croutons in the bottom. He paused, and then ladled hot chowder broth overtop of that, as we watched.

Nice show, yes? But y’all, I’m telling you, the difference in the texture between that chowder and one that simmers together was amazing. The corn snapped when you bit into it. The crab was crab, not something resembling crabby mush floating around. And those croutons? They stayed crunchy and crisp.

Such a simple thing, and such a big difference. I left, as always, in awe. And I’m also going to try that trick next time we have a chowder-like soup at home. It’s faster and easier than traditional soup simmering, and it was absolutely delicious.

I got to catch up with my friend, enjoy fabulous food, and learn a little something that makes me happier in the kitchen. Not a bad way to spend a lunchtime. 🙂

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