Cedric Maupillier is a master of turning familiar recipes into quiet sensations. Eating the chef’s vivid green soup au pistou this summer, I felt transported to a garden in Provence. The precisely diced carrots, zucchini and tomatoes demonstrated his philosophy that “50 percent of flavor is visual,” although Parmesan cheese and roasted cabbage in the bowl surely upped the soup’s appeal. Burrata salads are as common on menus as candy on Halloween; Maupillier elevates an already sumptuous cheese, flown in twice weekly from Italy, by tucking roasted hazelnuts underneath, ringing it in frizzy fried kale and finishing it with a racy tamarind sauce.
His menu is French but also American, which means he incorporates ideas from around the world. To eat his feathery fettuccine, meaty with the best bolognese in town and topped with a blizzard of Parmesan, is to have dinner somewhere chic in Italy. Crisp suckling pig croquettes resting on dollops of mole and brightened with sauteed corn, and a forest-green risotto whipped up from five hearty grains show a chef who thinks outside the norm, and always succeeds.
The sepia-toned room with the pressed-tin ceiling in Adams Morgan is one of the most clamorous but also one of the most savory.
P.S. Maupillier’s hamburger rocks. So does his brownie sundae.