For Michel Richard, a 'dream' restaurant in Tysons

Tuesday, October 26, 2010; 1:18 PM

OPEN FOR BUSINESS: Having smoothed out the remaining design wrinkles in his eponymous new restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner, Michel Richard on Oct. 26 began accepting reservations from the general public for the long-awaited Michel.

How does Michel compare with all the other places Richard has launched over the years?

"It's gorgeous. The dream of my life. The most beautiful restaurant I've opened," the celebrated French chef says of the gray- and-burgundy-hued dining room that replaces the late Maestro. Among Michel's attractions are a six-foot stack of plates, lighted from within, and circles in the ceiling that change color, a la the "mood" wall at Michel Richard Citronelle in Georgetown.

Richard has hired Levi Mezick, late of the Jockey Club in Washington, to execute a bistro menu that borrows a little from both Citronelle and Central Michel Richard, the maestro's hot spot downtown. Dinner entrees at Michel will average $28 and will possibly run to duck a l'orange, veal cheeks blanquette and John Dory with chardonnay sauce. (The chefs were still tweaking the script late last week.)

The holdups to opening his third area restaurant were mostly minor: an unfinished wine room, some lighting difficulties and a weak hood in the open kitchen. "I don't want it to look like in London, with the fog," joked Richard.

When asked how he'd be dividing his time, Richard replied: "Five minutes here, five minutes there, five minutes there. I don't know." (Pause.) "I'm going to call Wolfgang Puck" -- the California chef with dozens of restaurants to his credit -- "and have him tell me how to do it."

- Tom Sietsema

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