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Great night at Riel a few days ago. I went in with very few expectations, other than remembering that I read somewhere that the chef was Canadian, and at some point served borscht. We didn't opt for the borscht on our first visit, though we will certainly get into it (and the plate of Montreal smoked meat) next time. Cocktails are interesting, well-crafted, and well-priced at $10. I started with "Oslo in the Summertime," a nice riff on a Negroni, with Aquavit subbed in for the gin. Cristina is a sucker for gose, and started with a refreshing beer cocktail (Ready Set Gose) of Real Ale Gose (which has dominant lime notes), Cocchi Americano, and cucumber. It was feeling like that kind of night, so we opted to roll hard and start with the caviar service. Beautifully presented on a cut log platter, were were served 3 varieties - American, Russian, and Iranian along with house made butter (fantastic), freshly made rye blinis, and traditional accompaniments. Just as I was about order a couple glasses of champagne, the manager came over with an ice cold bottle of house infused vodka. All the better. (Click the arrows on the photos to see the crab and hangar steak.) Tempura cauliflower was served with a slightly too-salty kimchi sauce. The cauliflower were nicely breaded and fried, drizzled with the smoothly pureed sauce. There was some spice, but I would have liked a little more kimchi funk. Seemed like a popular dish, as we saw several plates heading out from the open kitchen. Having spent the last few years in DC, it's almost impossible for me to pass up a seasonal soft-shell crab special. Riel's comes lightly breaded and fried, served with greens and a tamarind sauce. Great dish that balances the salty fried crab with the sour tamarind. Bright and aggressively spiced. We wrapped it up with the 44 Farms hangar steak, cooked to a perfect medium rare, served over a horseradish cream sauce alongside pan-crisped potato-cheddar pierogi. Another winner of a dish. Simple, unfussy, but cleanly presented. Riel generated a lot of early press, but still somehow feels a little under the radar. Such is life in a sprawling city with so many choices. That said, I'm confident we'll be back, and would be happy to recommend a meal there to anyone visiting.