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Lydia R

Ris, at the Ritz-Carlton on 23rd and L Streets NW - Chef Ris Lacoste Comes From 1789

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Remember, Ris Lacoste is still searching for a place to call her own.

On 12/15, the Washington Business Journal published this:

She has signed a letter of intent to take 6,800 square feet at 1101 23rd St. NW, in the same building as The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton.

A final lease could be months away, but Lacoste says if there are "no major hiccups" her still-unnamed restaurant could open by the end of 2007. It will cost between $2 million and $3 million to open; Lacoste declines to name her investors.

"The next steps are to gather the funds and to start the design process," she says. "I like the idea of having that corner cafe that you go to every day for something like a cup of coffee, before and after theater, being a part of a neighborhood."

Visiting this board is a perfect digestif following a wonderful day of family and feast.

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As of late last week, this is officially a done deal. The new restaurant will be called, simply, "ris," (lowercase letters, rhymes with "bliss"). It should open in late Spring or early Summer 2009, and will feature a more visible kitchen than what was at 1789. Look for about 70 seats outside (!), 170 inside, and moderate pricing for the neighborhood. In terms of general feel, think 'sophisticated gathering place' where guests can nibble and pick, and aren't expected to order a three-course meal. Congratulations, Ris - it's been a long time coming, and we'll see you at DC Central Kitchen on September 18th (everyone click here to volunteer).

Cheers,

Rocks.

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As of late last week, this is officially a done deal. The new restaurant will be called, simply, "ris," (lowercase letters, rhymes with "bliss"). It should open in late Spring or early Summer 2009, and will feature a more visible kitchen than what was at 1789. Look for about 70 seats outside (!), 170 inside, and moderate pricing for the neighborhood. In terms of general feel, think 'sophisticated gathering place' where guests can nibble and pick, and aren't expected to order a three-course meal. Congratulations, Ris - it's been a long time coming, and we'll see you at DC Central Kitchen on September 18th (everyone click here to volunteer).

Cheers,

Rocks.

Thanks! see you on the 18th! And see you all at 'ris" next spring.

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Anyone going to the soft opening lunch on Thursday? I got an invite through a friend but can't make it because of a work commitment :(

Very excited to see how this place turns out.

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Ris was in the kitchen today (which was nice to see on a Monday.) I've also heard that they are getting a nice post-Kennedy Center buzz. I hope it continues!

In a word, it was delicious. And I love the subtle understated atmosphere with browns, golds and touches of red. $73 pre-tax/tip for two apps, mains, shared dessert and coffee...Not inexpensive, mind you, but worthwhile for this special occasion. Details to follow, although I don't have a menu and this is not all inclusive since I am relying on my memory.

I would certainly order again the app I had--it was a scallop ceviche with a lime gratine served in a salt-rimmed martini glass with avocado, tomato, cilantro and I can't recall all the other details, but it worked together beautifully. Except...the glass is kind of tall, and for a person of shorter stature it is difficult to eat when a dish is served at or above a diner's mouth level.:angry: Mr. S had a deceivingly simple dressed salad of greens, which had fennel and other surprises buried within. He also had the Soy-lacquered salmon (a very large portion which looked divine) served atop greens, beets, rice celery and ?) I was pleased to be able to eat an allergy customized mushroom papperadelle that was just my cup of tea. So nice to enjoy a dish that had subtle yet complex earthy and sensual flavors. (Instead of a simple steak or fish--which would have been fine, but not as special as this)

Decaf Cappuccino was nicely prepared and tasty, and a perfect companion to the German Chocolate creation we had for dessert. Definitely large enough to share. And not what one would think of when thinking of German Chocolate Cake. This had a hazelnut brickle-type base with chocolate cake and coconut atop, then covered with more chocolate. It was far more sophisticated then I've described it here, as I do it injustice trying to describe it from memory. Next time I'll grab a menu (or take notes!) Or you'll just have to go try it for yourself.

I'm looking forward to trying out the burger for lunch sometime soon, as a full meal would be too much for a normal day for me. I'm skipping dinner tonight.

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I had a wonderful dinner last night at Ris, made doubly so because of superior service behind the bar. My server (known to me only as "Bartender B, #222,") was delightful, and I hope that Ris management sees this and gives her my thanks and kudos.

Everything I ordered came from the Monday-night dinner-specials insert, starting with the New England Clam Chowder ($8), the best bowl of New England Clam Chowder that I can remember eating. It was deceptively small-looking, but was just the right amount of soup for an appetizer, and was perfect in every way, right down to the tiny little ramekin of about ten oyster crackers which I dumped in and saturated. Don't forget that Ris Lacoste is from Boston, and worked for Bob Kinkead for many years - this soup is right in her wheelhouse, and I was amazed that it stayed piping hot, right down to the last glorious spoonful.

I've dined with Ris before, and feel like we're almost identical twins in some ways. Three things I knew in advance, just because I know Ris's aesthetic: the bread would be good (check), the butter would be salted (check), and the mashed potatoes would have some lumps in them (check). (Contrast this rustic version to the pommes purées I had the night before at Central, which Michel Richard stubbornly insists on continuing to make in a more classic French style - completely smooth, and with a lot of butter.) The potatoes accompanied my Meatloaf ($18) along with some green beans (really, something close to haricots verts), wild mushrooms, onions, and just the right amount of Port glaze. This meatloaf was a generous slab, super-rich, with a complex outer shell having all spices fully integrated except for the occasional waft of obvious nutmeg.

I'd started with a draft of Brooklyn Winter Ale ($6), and then halfway through the meatloaf, I wanted to test the by-the-glass wine program, which, upon a cursory screening, was too expensive and unexciting - a definite disappointment, and very much out of character. I asked Bartender B to choose me a red wine - any red wine - that had less than 13% alcohol. She was unfazed by this unusual request, and diligently went over to the bar and examined bottle after bottle, rejecting each, until she came to the last - a 2007 Perrin Côtes du Rhône "Nature" ($9), which was possibly the least expensive red on the list. It's a high-production wine, and calling it "table wine" can only be accurate in the French sense - it is absolutely a vin de table, a wine you'd pick up in a French supermarket for just a few dollars.

"I was going to pick you something else to stand up to the meat loaf," my affable friend Bartender B said, "but that was 14.5%." Call me old-fashioned (no, really - please DO, because I am!), but I don't want a wine that will STAND UP TO my food; I want a wine that's going to LIE DOWN WITH my food. It took me comfortably into the Cheese Plate ($12), which consisted of Crater Lake Blue, Lamb Chopper, and the wonderful Cherry Glen Monocacy Ash, along with a nicely sliced pear and some thin, crispy raisin bread. If I were serving this cheese course, I would reduce the portion of the assertive blue, add a second slice of the butter-pat-sized gouda, and increase the serving size of the goat - at $12, there is wiggle room.

A great night at Ris, a beautiful restaurant, with A+ service, good food - no, make that great food, as you're not going to find better clam chowder or meat loaf anywhere, and my only nicks being the by-the-glass wine list (I didn't look at the bottle list), and the slightly off-balance cheese course.

Congratulations to everyone at Ris - West End Bistro is going to lose a lot of business to this newcomer.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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On our way to Blue Duck friday night and decided to give this a try instead. Most excellent decision on our part. Walked in around 7:15 and there was a wait for tables. The place was hopping! Fortunately, we saddled up to the bar just as 2 were leaving and were set for the night. Unfortunately, I cannot remember the name of our bartender, but he was excellent, engaging and very attentive. Opened the wine list to discover my 2 new favorites were both on the list (due solely to an awesome tasting dinner at Eve and the assistance later of Mr. Thrasher in piecing back together what we drank that night :angry: ). We also had a bottle of the Chateau Olivier, which was quite good and recommended by the I-need-to-figure-out-his-name bartender.

We started with the scallops appetizer with the tequila ice. I am not a scallops person (consistency issues) but these were fantastic. We had the pork chop and duck for mains. Both were very good and perfect for a freezing cold night. I don't remember seeing the aforementioned meatlof on the menu, but the chicken pot pie lookied appealing. Finished with the butterscotch pudding desert. What a complete suprise at how awesome that was. I think I would go back just for the pudding.

All in all, a bang up evening. We plan to return and are very excited to have this on the short list of west end options.

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Favorable review (2.5 stars, though I think it reads closer to 3) from Sietsema. I'm surprised there hasn't been more buzz about this restaurant on here. Big name chef opens a long-awaited project in a central location with not totally outrageous prices, and there are only around a dozen posts in three months. Odd, don't you think?

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Big name chef opens a long-awaited project in a central location with not totally outrageous prices, and there are only around a dozen posts in three months. Odd, don't you think?

It might be because it's not quite as revolutionary as portrayed?

We went to the bar last night for happy hour and to sample the menu. Our bartender told us he was new, which unfortunately was a harbinger of the rest of the evening. While he did fine when it was just me and GennaroE at the bar, as it got busier and our other dining companions joined us, he forgot to fire orders and couldn't keep up with the pace of things; we waited far too long (at least forty-five minutes, although thanks to good company, I didn't feel pressed to check my watch) for entrees after an appetizer, and probably a good thirty minutes for the bar food, which we ordered when we were essentially the only people there, around 5:30 p.m.

Sietsema's review mentioned generous portions, but I have to wonder if there's been a readjustment based on that comment. The Pan Roasted Rockfish with grapefruit brûlé, sunchokes, spinach and citrus glaze ($25) had completely crispy skin and flaky flesh, a textbook preparation, but it was a very small portion, the accoutrements almost nonexistent. Sardines lightly breaded and pan fried with pine nuts, sweet onions, verjus and golden raisins ($13) were likewise excellent -- phenomenal flavor and just the right application of the Mediterranean pine nut-raisin topping -- but the plural "s" is something of a misnomer. One single lonely sardine ... Well, to be fair, at any other restaurant in the area, I don't think I'd find it that odd, but my expectations of a greater food-to-price ratio had been raised by the review. (I should note that we didn't order the crudos, which is the dish he calls out specifically as being a large portion relative to others in the city.)

Then again, saying the restaurant has a "heavy hand" with the plating isn't necessarily wrong (whether it's good or bad remains to be seen). We asked the kitchen to do a half-portion of the Mushroom Pappardelle with butternut squash, roasted chestnuts, Brussels sprouts and Parmesean (sic) ($18), and if that was truly a half-portion, then I recommend getting the full plate only if you are famished or running a marathon the next day. The components were individually lovely, and the elements of nuttiness in the mushroom noodles and the chestnuts played off the squash well, but it didn't entirely tie together -- although in this case I'm inclined to think that's because, due to the timing issues, it came out a bit cold; at the right temperature, I think this had the potential to be a very good dish.

My favorite dish was probably the Bar Tart of caramelized endive, walnuts, blue cheese, and grapes ($6.30), topped with lightly dressed greens, all on a flaky round of puff pastry. I know I've seen Rocks rail against this combination before, but in this presentation (instead of as a plated salad) it was really fantastic, the cheese just melted enough to unify the sweet-salty-creamy-peppery elements. In the future, I would go back and get this and a glass of wine during the "Rush Hour" happy hour -- the place is less than three blocks from my office -- and leave happy after that.

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It might be because it's not quite as revolutionary as portrayed?

We went to the bar last night for happy hour and to sample the menu. Our bartender told us he was new, which unfortunately was a harbinger of the rest of the evening.

I'm in pretty much complete agreement. If I hadn't gone in thinking that this was Ris Lacoste's place, and if it hadn't just received 2.5 stars from Tom, I may not have been quite so disappointed. But Ris simply did not live up to my expectations, nor to the prices on its own menu. Though unexcited about the Bar Tart, I found it quite delicious, and the flaky pastry crust on which its components rested had me excited to try the Chicken Pot Pie. The Rockfish, and the single Sardine, were also well prepared. In particular, that single sardine had a brilliant flavor profile -- great acidity from the verjus that played well with the toasted, rich pinenuts and the sweet onions. But the portions were a joke. As for the Mushroom Pappardelle, it was the one truly generous portion served to us (maybe because it was ordered as an appetizer, but sent out an hour later with our entrees they decided to bulk it up?), but the many ingredients, which should have worked well together -- butternut squash, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, and chestnuts -- did not mesh. It seemed more to me like pasta in a mushroom cream sauce, with a whole bunch of chopped up stuff tossed in, served tepid (it may have been much better hot) and difficult to eat in a way that captured all the flavors due to its poor construction.

A few dishes that Leigh didn't mention....

The bread service is truly lackluster. We waited so long for our food that I couldn't help eating some of it, but it didn't taste particularly fresh to me, and I'm not a fan of bland, tiny slices of bread that are all crust and no interior, especially when they are served on their own (not with a dish for the purpose of saucing).

Clam Cakes ($6.30) off of the Rush Hour menu, which at least one bartender described as clam hush puppies, were not worth eating. I had one (from a generous portion of about 8), and despite the fact that I almost never turn down fried food, passed on seconds. The accompanying tartar sauce was lovely -- creamy, with the right balance of pickled tartness and sweetness -- but the cakes themselves, shaped like hush puppies to be sure, were bland (no clam flavor at all) and tasted simply of dough to me. Calling them hush puppies only reminds me of the ones offered at Sou'Wester, and makes me take even greater offense to their flavorless counterparts' existence.

A picture posted on Yelp showed Ris' Chicken Pot Pie ($18) to be of the sort that I hadn't seen in a long time: one fully encased in pastry crust, and turned out of the pan it was cooked in, onto a plate. It looked large and deeply satisfying, as so often there is not nearly enough pastry crust to go along with the rest of the pie's contents. I guess the preparation has changed recently, as ours was served in a small dutch oven, and just topped with a layer of this delicious crust. Its contents were good -- plenty of rich chicken flavor, and a good balance between vegetables and meat, etc. -- but unlike the one served at Againn (for the exact same price) I have no desire to go back and experience it a second time. The accompanying salad was boring, and the extra gravy on the side was simply unnecessary, like serving a crock of extra broth alongside a bowl of soup.

Undoubtedly, the poor service colored my perspective on the food (and there's nothing I can do about that), but even taking this into account, when juxtaposed with the cost, and in light of the reputation that precedes her, the food that Ris is putting out just doesn't do it for me. I'd like to give the place a second chance, but given all the other fantastic options in the area, it just doesn't seem worth it.

I went directly to Vidalia (a 5 minute walk away) after dinner for a beer and a soft pretzel, and felt more satisfied by that $3 combo of bread and mustard than all I'd eaten over the 3 and a half hours spent at Ris' bar.

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Favorable review (2.5 stars, though I think it reads closer to 3) from Sietsema. I'm surprised there hasn't been more buzz about this restaurant on here. Big name chef opens a long-awaited project in a central location with not totally outrageous prices, and there are only around a dozen posts in three months. Odd, don't you think?

We had a lovely dinner at Ris a few weeks ago, and enjoyed several of the dishes described above, but I haven't been inspired to write about it. I agree with GennaroE that the extra pitcher of gravy wasn't necessary, but it was nice as a dip for a side of French fries.

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What a great meal I had last night there. My first time; my companion's second. She had previously experienced very poor service there, so was hesitant to go back. We were seated immediately, and attended to in fine fashion. Problem solved, so we could concentrate on the food.

The Octopus Salad (with feta and cucumber, cured lemon, spinach and a really interesting yogurt aioli kind of thing, $12) was one of the best salads I think I've ever had. The tangy lemon dressing is something I must try to replicate in my own kitchen; the octopus was tender and just perfectly touched by the grill, imparting a light smoky taste without toughening it up. As my entrée, I ordered the Lemon Salt Crusted Soft Shell Crab (fava bean purée, grilled onion jam and lemon tarragon vinaigrette), because I am a sucker for soft shells and haven't yet tried to make them myself at home. Although delicious, at $30 for two wee crabs, it seemed a bit pricey.

My friend ordered the $10 Asparagus and Gingered Grapefruit Salad with sesame and miso vinaigrette. I tasted it, it was great (although I shared but a tiny bite of my Octopus Salad because it was better and I am greedy). She had the Alaska Halibut (peas and morels, asparagus and artichokes, with favas, fennel cream and mashed potatoes, $28). Sounded a bit busy to me, I didn't try it, but she thought it was great.

Include one perfectly shaken dirty gin martini, three glasses of a great Tempranillo, and two coffees, for about $90 a person including tip. Sent us to the Kennedy Center a bit poorer, but happy and just in time for the curtain.

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What a great meal I had last night there.

Sounds like a good meal -- all the typical spring flavors that are showing up on menus lately. Almost makes me want to give the place another shot.

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Had an amazing Lunch at Ris this Monday. Was with some international food industry vets, and everyone loved what they had. Items included the Ceviche, the spinach Salad, and others. Please forgive my poor skills of description, yet I wanted to make sure that everyone knows what an terrific meal, service, and environment DC has at this wonderful restaurant.

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Keeping in mind that there are no such things as stupid questions, only stupid people who ask the questions:

How is "Ris" pronounced? Thank you.

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Keeping in mind that there are no such things as stupid questions, only stupid people who ask the questions:

How is "Ris" pronounced? Thank you.

Pronounced like "riss" -- the second syllable of the name "Doris."

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Ris reminds me a bit of Corduroy before it moved to its new digs. A major talent, good food, but an environment that challenges you to pay attention to those strengths and give its chef due credit as an important player in the local restaurant scene. The birthday dinner I treated Bob to last night had no significant culinary faults--yes, my Carolina grouper was perhaps a tad overcooked, and some of the dishes taste much better than they look (many of Ris's dishes appear slightly unkempt; composition doesn't seem to be her greatest strength)--and the highs were superb (scallop margarita, gnudi, butterscotch pudding). Bob had a very well made negroni, and my Tokyo kilt (Hendrick's Gin, ginger, cucumber, yuzu, and basil) was marvelously refreshing. The 2007 Adelsheim pinot gris stood up well to our dishes (it's also sold by the glass).

The service last night was friendly, but often slow. When the kitchen was delayed in delivering our appetizers, the waiter apologized and brought us complimentary cups of super-fresh gazpacho to tide us over. But that wasn't the only significant delay last night, and the others were not handled with the same graciousness. And the kindest comment I can make about the room is "undistracting," though on some levels that is a stretch. The lightly distressed surfaces on the wall don't look rustic or trendy; they just look dirty. I could have sworn that the wall to my right was badly scuffed and in need of a good cleaning and repainting before I realized that the look was intentional, causing my own light distress. I suggest coming here with company you like to look at, because there's not much else to catch the eye, and some things from which you might just as soon avert them.

Those didn't spoil the evening by any means, but instead left me feeling like Ris is a good restaurant still in search of a distinct personality--or at least of a wardrobe that doesn't diminish its charms. I wish someone would give her a space that enhances the considerable strengths of her cooking, and better defines her work. As is, I feel like she's a bit like Tom Power on the second floor of the Four Points Sheraton--someone you go to for great food, and forgive the atmosphere. She deserves better.

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First time at Ris last night and am happy to report that we were quite impressed. We stuck to the Restaurant Week menu and will certainly be back to mine the rest of the menu.

We started with panzanella and the gazpacho and kept trading them back and forth almost as if we couldn't get enough of each. Both were exemplars of the wonderful/ sweet produce that is available at the farmers' markets these days. This panzanella was a bit different than those I've had in the past, this one having less bread but having nice chunks of blue cheese (don't remember which cheese, perhaps gorgonzola dolce) and walnuts. Very playful dish with the wonderful grape tomatoes and red onions. My better half's gazpacho was lovely - a little more brothy than some, but the small slices of cucumbers, and other veggies as well as the perfect amount of lately added bread crumbs made this a very substantial dish. We'll miss these once the summer ends.

Our main dishes were the lamb shank and the orchette with spinach, pesto and goat cheese. The shank was tender, flavorful, though it needed just a small touch of salt. The pesto was very mild but each mouthful packed a bit of a 'pow' when you included some of the fresh goat cheese.

Normally wouldn't do dessert (or at least two desserts), but, as it was Restaurant Week, we made the sacrifice. Had the eskimo pie and the key lime tart. Both were nice and refreshing, but we probably didn't give them their due as we were pretty full.

In reading the above comments, it seems like service has been an issue in the past. We didn't see a trace of that - service was very professional - our server (David?) was both knowledgeable and friendly.

Over the last year or two I've avoided dining out during RW due to the crowds, taxed staffs, etc. Last night my husband surprised me with this reservation and I was a little unsure whether any restaurant could satisfy me with both a delicious and relaxing experience. Lucky for me that Ris was up to that challenge.

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Saturday night, impressed, but not blown away. Good buzz in the dining room, nice people watching. Superb service, especially from the sommelier. Nice space, not too loud on a crowded night, so that was pleasant.

Scallop margarita reminded me of when ceviche wasn't drowning in citrus juice on every menu in the city. It was light, tasted like scallops and had a nice punch of heat. Gnudi was good, not great, the sauce saved this dish. Sweetbreads were perfectly cooked, but they put too many fava beans on the plate which threw off the balance a bit. Short rib was just how I like it, it had some body and wasn't sauced to death. The butterscotch pudding was disappointing because it wasn't really pudding, but tasted good. Wine pairings were exceptional minus one Syrah (don't remember the details) that fell flat.

Why am I the first one to post a review on this place in seven months? Is it because we all are becoming too spoiled?

We expect to be wowed at every moment in our lives that we don't even recognize when a solid restaurant with great service is churning out 200 or 300 happy diners every night. Ris deserves some recognition, they are doing good things over there and it is nice to have a place that you can count on any night of the week.

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Just went to Ris for the third time, for lunch with a friend. Service was outstanding, attentive and anticipating our needs but not intrusive. We each had a cherry blossom hot tea and I had the french onion soup and a side of swiss chard. Perfect lunch on a rainy day. The only off note was that the poured tap water had an unpleasant chlorine-y taste, maybe they could have filtered it, but not a big deal.

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