What to Order at Maison Cheryl in Clarendon

Chef Robert Maher's Frenchy bistro does a proper duck à l’orange, says our dining critic.
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Duck breast at Maison Cheryl in Arlington, Virginia  (Photo by Dixie Vereen)

Duck breast is a darling on many a DMV menu, but it often falls victim to poor preparation, with rubbery skin that hasn’t been properly rendered. Not so at Maison Cheryl in Clarendon, which is worthy of a visit this Bastille Day, or any day you might be craving duck à l’orange.

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Chef Robert Maher (Photo by Dixie Vereen)

To prepare the classic French dish, chef-owner Robert Maher scores the skin with thin hatch marks—a technique that releases the fat as the breast is seared over a low flame until the skin is wafer thin and crisp. He adds butter and thyme to the pan and finishes the bird in the oven until its flesh is rosy and tender. It’s served with orange demi-glace, roasted broccolini and Parmesan mashed potatoes.

Maher, 37, is a New York City native and a graduate of the now-defunct French Culinary Institute. His 2,000-square-foot bistro, which opened in August 2021, is named after his mother-in-law, who passed away in 2019. The restaurant seats 75, including 14 at the bar. 

Other menu highlights include mafaldine pasta with fried burrata, heirloom tomatoes and pesto; Chilean sea bass with coconut rice and green curry sauce; and an 8-ounce Wagyu beef burger on brioche with truffle aioli, arugula and Swiss cheese. For dessert, try the baked-to-order madeleines. The excellent cocktails include a blood-orange boulevardier and A Little Kick, made with tequila, serrano chilies, lime and cilantro.

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Categories: Food & Drink