Oysters plated with saffron at Xiquet
The food world's favorite tire company is back in D.C. to award stars to local restaurants — and five new spots have caught inspectors' eyes.
Rooster & Owl, the vegetable-forward restaurant in Columbia Heights; Xiquet, serving up paella and other Valencian fare in Glover Park; Cranes, with its Japanese-French fusion dishes in Penn Quarter; and Elcielo D.C., the Colombian fine-dining spot in the La Cosecha food hall, all received one Michelin star (given to restaurants that are "worth a stop").
One restaurant received two stars: a distinction shared by only two other local restaurants. Jont, 14th Street's fine dining destination above sister restaurant Bresca, earned raves from inspectors for its "impeccable technique and pristine ingredients."
The Inn at Little Washington, meanwhile, enjoyed a fifth year of sneaking onto D.C.'s list with three stars. The pricey restaurant is a mainstay of Washington, Virginia, — more than an hour outside of the District — and was granted an exception to Michelin's D.C.-only mandate. (As the organization told Washingtonian in 2016, The Inn was just too good not to include.) In addition to another three stars, the restaurant is a recipient of Michelin's new Green Star, which recognizes spots with sustainable practices. Inspectors praised The Inn's commitment to "using products sourced from local farmers, ranchers, and the Inn's own garden."
Michelin's chief inspector for North America (who, like all the organization's inspectors, remains anonymous) tells DCist/WAMU that visits were conducted both before and after the pandemic set in. Inspectors did not consider restaurants that operated on a takeout-only basis.
No restaurant in D.C. lost its starry status, which may have to do with Michelin's COVID-era rule to maintain stars for any spot that was temporarily closed last year, per Eater. Longtime two-star restaurants Pineapple & Pearls and Minibar, as well as one-starred Plume remain closed due to the pandemic.
Though inspections were completed during the most devastating year in recent memory for restaurants, when dozens around D.C. have closed permanently, Michelin's chief inspector says they didn't change their evaluating criteria that much.
"Whether inspectors were dining outside or inside, our inspection criteria remains unchanged," he says. "Inspectors evaluate the quality of the product, the harmony of the flavors, the mastery of the technique, the personality of the chef and their cuisine, and consistency between visits historically to the restaurant."
The anonymous chief inspector calls D.C.'s food scene "really impressive to us overall," and points out the various cuisines behind each new star: Colombian, Spanish-Japanese fusion, Valencian, and fine-dining spots with global flavors.
"Right now we think it's a really worthwhile time to celebrate [D.C. restaurants'] excellence," he says.
As usual, the stars announcement was preceded earlier this week by the release of the Bib Gourmand list, a collection of less-pricey restaurants. Six new restaurants now round out D.C.'s 41-eatery strong list. (Restaurants on the Bib Gourmand list are not eligible to receive stars.)
D.C.'s full list of Michelin-starred restaurants is below:
Three starsaka: "worth a special journey"
Two starsaka: "worth a detour"
One staraka: "worth a stop"
Ellē, Queen's English Added To Michelin's Bib Gourmand 2021 Restaurant List
This story is from DCist.com, the local news website of WAMU.