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Posted at 5:00 PM ET, 03/22/2010

Michel Richard announces Michel in Tysons Corner

By Tom Sietsema

Michel Richard confirms: He's opening a third restaurant in Tysons Corner. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

After several years of speculation about who might take over the old Maestro space in the Ritz-Carlton in Tysons Corner, Michel Richard says he's moving into the "castle" with a restaurant called simply Michel in early October.

The celebrity chef says he's aiming for "a good American restaurant with a small French accent." His 110-seat dining room will keep the sweeping open kitchen it inherits from Maestro, the late haute Italian restaurant run by Fabio Trabocchi.

Otherwise, it will be "a restaurant people like to go to now," free of tablecloths and full of approachable things to eat. Already, Richard says, he's working on "a good steak and wonderful fries," as well as fish tartares, a vegetable terrine and a cinnamon-spiced duck with figs. The chef's signature wit will be on display in lemon meringue set in an "eggshell" of white chocolate.

No chef has been selected, but Richard hopes to hire someone from the local talent pool.

Mark Sherwin, the general manager of the Ritz-Carlton, hailed the arrival of Michel, the man and the business, earlier today. "The fit is the perfect combination" of "two iconic brands," said Sherwin.

Why the long delay in finding a replacement for Maestro? For starters, last year was "the most difficult economic time in recent history," says Sherwin. But there were also three principals that had to be in agreement on the concept: Richard, the Ritz-Carlton and the property's owner, Host Hotels & Resorts. Sherwin also confirmed that a protégé of British chef Gordon Ramsay was an early contender for the prized location.

Michel will be Richard's third restaurant in the area (the others are the tony Michel Richard Citronelle in Georgetown and Central Michel Richard downtown). Fun fact: The chef, who turned 62 earlier this month, started cooking in 1962.

-- Tom Sietsema

By Tom Sietsema  | March 22, 2010; 5:00 PM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  | Tags:  Tom Sietsema  
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