Washingtonian’s 100 Very Best Restaurants 2009


The Washingtonian‘s 100 Very Best Restaurants Issue is out! This is the first year that I can remember that it has come out in February. The Inauguration apparently was a big enough event this year in Washington to take over the most anticipated issue of the Washingtonian, The 100 Very Best Restaurants Issue. If I knew then what I know now, I would have been prodding Todd Kliman a lot more about the list.
There have been some huge changes in my opinion.
First and foremost, the fact that Michel Richard’s Citronelle (Pictured Michel Richard on the right)
has slipped to number two is a really big deal. Not only is Michel Richard one of the world’s best chef’s, but he’s been in the restaurant business longer than Johnny Monis of Komi has been alive! Although ranking the restaurants from 1 to 100 is relatively new practice (since 2007), Citronelle has remained in the number one spot ever since they began ranking them in 2007. Also, I will mention that in 2007, Komi was #10. If you can recall from last year’s blog about the 100 Very Best list for 2008, I remarked about how amazing it is to move from #10 to #3. (Komi dining room pictured on the left) Well … I find it even more remarkable that Komi knocked out Citronelle and has taken the number one spot. Executive Chef, Johnny Monis has achieved several of the highest possible honors of culinary arts in half of the amount of time of other chefs. I’ve heard through the grapevine that the reason Citronelle was ousted from #1 is due to their lack of superb service. Apparently they have slipped in this regard.
Also, CityZen lost two spots in their ranking. They went from #2 in 2008 to #4. In 2007, they were ranked #3. It’s still a very high accolade, regardless, but still I have noticed that the top 5 usually remain within a few top restaurants. Komi really snuck in … and took over. (Pictured on the left: CityZen dining room) It’s on my list of things to do is to try Executive Chef, Eric Ziebold’s three-course, $50 prix-fix bar menu.
Maestro (Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner) which was #2 in 2007 lost their Executive Chef, Fabio Trabocchi in July 2007 and temporarily closed so was removed from the list in 2008 all together.
Jose Andres has gotten much play lately due to Anthony Bordain’s No Reservations show featuring DC area restaurants. He said on the show that he thought Minibar, the six-seat restaurant within Cafe Atlantico was one of the best restaurants in the world. In 2009, Minibar was ranked #3 which is a two spot improvement in 2008 from #5.
Cathal Armstrong’s Restaurant Eve makes the top ten again this year, which is not at all surprising. Last year in 2008, the restaurant was ranked #4. This year, it slips down two notches to #6. My favorite thing about Restaurant Eve is the lickety-split 3-course lunch menu at the bar for only $13.50! I’ve been for lunch a few times. I enjoy every morsel, but caution those who don’t eat ham, pork, or bacon. There are a lot of course with pork as an option.
Vidalia ranked #7 this year which is a slight improvement from last year’s #8. They still got three and a half stars, so no change there. Just two years ago, in 2007, Vidalia was below the top ten at #11. The reviews over the years don’t provide an inkling of why the restaurant would be viewed as improving in one thing or another. Perhaps they improved in Cuisine or Service … but you wouldn’t be able to tell by Todd’s write up. Perhaps it’s a question for me to include when I participate in his Tuesday afternoon chats online.  The Inn at Little Washington ranked #8, Oval Room #9, and The Source #10. (Inside of The Source dining room pictured) The Source is kind of a big deal. The Source is the first fine dining restaurant in the nation’s capital headlined by world famous Chef, Wolfgang Puck. The Source is the recipient of many awards and accolades including “2008 New Restaurant of the Year” Award from the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington and “2008 Restaurant of the Year” from DC Magazine. The three-level restaurant is the signature dining experience at the Newseum.

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