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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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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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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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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.

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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We did Easter brunch here yesterday, drawn in by the new "small plates" menu. Given that most of those plates are $6 or $8 apiece, and what I witnessed are all decently sized, this may make Ris's brunch one of the better buys in town, both in terms of price and quality. Bob went for the short rib hash with poached egg, I opted for the croque mademoiselle. Both were good-sized portions and flavorful. The croque features a generous portion of ham, mornay sauce, a nicely fried onion ring and egg, and a modest coating of maple syrup--a combination that proved oddly delicious. We shared the deep-fried gnudi with a strawberry-rhubarb sauce; the gnudi are one of the highlights in the regular menu, in a very different format, and this variation is no slouch.

For drinks we went for the pitcher of sparkling sangria--the flavor is refreshing, but the sparkle gets a little lost in the overabundance of ice. Since we still had a good portion of the sangria to down, we ordered a couple of bakery items--the excellent sour cream donuts and the cherry almond crumb cake. This is where we had the one service glitch--we were served the dessert version of the cake with ice cream and a hard sauce, for four dollars more. But they switched it around quickly and graciously enough when we pointed out the problem. Final bill, with a 20% tip, was about $75--quite reasonable, given the amount of food and drink. I still don't care for the space at Ris, but excellent service and careful cooking make up for that significantly.

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Spinach Salad fresh goat cheese, sherried beets, candied walnuts and sunflower seeds, honey mustard and sherry vinaigrette ($9) was really nice on this warm Tuesday, although it could have used a bit more of the creamy, mild cheese, and a bit less dressing (then again, I almost always find salads overdressed, and this one only seemed that way toward the end). It was quite substantial, with radicchio strewn among the baby spinach, and a plethora of perfectly-cooked red and yellow beet chunks.

The only danger was eating beets at a work lunch, given my generally klutzy nature, but thank goodness I chose to wear all black.

The quiche looked quite nice, a fluffy rendition filled with spinach and caramelized onions, and baked off as individual servings so everyone gets a healthy portion of crust. The Tuna Niçoise Tartine, seared tuna, green bean-potato cake, roasted tomatoes, lemon aioli, egg and capers ($13) -- served open-face as a tartine should be -- looked excellent, with slightly rare tuna and the surprise of the capers having been fried; my colleague said it was lovely.

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Had a wonderful mother's day brunch here. The menu had plenty to choose from, something for everyone. I didn't want eggs or any of the traditional brunch items, so I went with Mussels (with tomato, chorizo, garlic, herbs and grilled bread), Spicy Shrimp Tempura, Chile Relleno, my wife had a Belgian Waffle, and we shared some Bok Choi with Beets, Asparagus, and Home Fries. It didn't seem like a lot of food to me but our server seemed pretty impressed.

I won't talk about the waffle since I didn't eat any, and I'm just gonna say the home fries are home fries. The best dish is the spicy shrimp tempura, which isn't like the tempura at typical Japanese restaurants, but like the spicy shrimp tempura served at Nobu, with a thicker batter and a nice spicy creamy/mayo sauce. I liked the mussels and chile relleno equally well. The chile was stuffed with seasoned rice, and the whole thing was served on a bed of black beans. I liked the flavor and I liked the fact the chile tasted like chile, had a nice firm texture, and wasn't stuffed full of low-quality gooey cheese. The mussels were also quite flavorful, and I enjoyed the chorizo with the grilled bread. Overall, not a particularly fattening brunch.

The sides of asparagus and beets and bok choi were fine. The bok choi were in smaller pieces than I'm used to and I'm not used to the combination of bok choi and beets but the combined flavor wasn't unpleasing, just a little different. The asparagus was garlicky and cheesey (not gooey, but parmigiano-reggiano, I think).

One thing online that I didn't see on the menu but was of interest to me - clams with angel hair pasta and black bean sauce. That was what brought me there in the first place.

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My 16 year old daughter and 2 friends dined at Ris on Saturday night. Not only did they enjoy the meal (scallops, steaks, mussels and a salad), my daughter said they were treated quite well, always a concern when sending young ones out to dine solo at nicer places. Final tally $99. Won't that change when they are old enough to drink!

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I've been to Ris a couple of times (one lunch, one dinner) since opening but didn't manage to write about it.

Last night four of us had a late dinner here after a memorable--if not recommended--Shakespeare-inspired movie at West End (Coriolanus). Not too much chance of falling asleep in this one but that's not food-related so I'll get back on track with Ris.

It was fairly full at 10pm and our server did a fine job throughout the night. Three of us really enjoyed our meals while the fourth was very disappointed. I didn't save the itemized receipt so won't have the detailed recall I'd like but we had:

Happy Persons #1, #2 and #3 all enjoyed specials on their great value, $35 menu available before 6:30 and later than 10pm. These happy folks (myself included) enjoyed:

- A great seared sea scallop dish with cider vinegar carmelization and perfect exterior crisp. The dish was served with too little of a very nice, smooth sweet potato puree, a light hominy to contrast and some well vinegared greens (maybe collards?). Maybe four large scallops and a very fair portion given the price. All in, the two of us who ordered this thought it a very good dish and we each finished every bit.

- A roast (or maybe grilled) quail dish. Can't remember the preparation or sides but our friend who ordered this enjoyed it and finished it.

Unhappy person #4 ordered:

- A grilled salmon entree with kale and maybe one other side. The main complaint with this dish was of severe over-salting. We all agreed this should have been brought to the server's attention. It wasn't and UP#4 left unhappy unnecessarily. I'm sure they'd have fixed it given the chance.

A few glasses of wine. My sancerre was nice with the scallops.

Oh yes, two of us ordered a butterscotch pudding that came with a small scoop of chocolate sorbet and two of those thin pressed and then curved cookies in chocolate. Excellent with an espresso to cap off the night.

Bread service was ordinary. Value excellent especially for a higher-end concept in that location. Will definitely make a note to go back again soon.

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Blue Duck was jam-packed on Thursday (I guess signifying that they've gotten over their change-of-toques), so my party of four headed to Ris for an early dinner. Certainly, there are some nice higher-end options on the menu, but I was "merely" hungry, and we had a performance to catch afterwards. Even if you depart from the prix fixe menu, you can put together some pretty satisfying combos à la carte - which then frees up your dessert choices. The pork rillettes are a bit leaner than I'd prefer, but still made a nice starter for one. Salads - both the endive and Caesar - were exemplary. I know this seems like a minor point, but it bothers me that salad courses are all too often assembled and dressed haphazardly, so finding one that is crisp, properly fork-sized, and integrated, is a thing of joy. It also prevents me from totally pigging out on sides of the feta potatoes au gratin.

Service was attentive and gracious, despite the modest tab, which makes it easy to tip generously. Having a usefully flexible menu makes this a solid choice among West End options.

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I got an email from my best friend saying, "Julie is coming into town, can you do dinner on October 15?" Well when one of your very favorite people flies in from London for one night, it's go time. A long time ago a promise was made that we would go to dinner to celebrate my wedding. Well I have been married for a bit now, best friend is now married and has a very handsome one year old son, but it's never to early or late to celebrate anything and everything, especially amongst good company.

The next question was where to go. Originally we were going to go to Citronelle, but they are still closed for repairs from flooding damage, so with a bevy of options we were going to go the Restaurant Eve route, but wanted baby friendly and I just wasn't sure so we settled on RIS, and that was such a good decision. I wasn't quite sure about the baby factor, but figured it was a Monday night and we'd make it work. So on a rainy Monday night I made my way into 23rd and L St. Pulling up at the valet I forgot I had no cash. It was raining and the valet told me not to worry I could pay them on the way out. So nice and gracious. I went and grabbed cash at a nearby ATM, and had a glass of Jefferson Chardonnay at the bar while waiting for my friends to arrive in all the traffic, rain and accidents. The host was so nice and just a real pleasure to be around, so accommodating (they were maybe 5-10 min late, but that wasn't a problem).

Suz brought our handsome date, who was so good the whole time we were at the restaurant. The host sat us at the big booth so that he had some room to play and be quietly entertained and we could enjoy our meal. We ordered a bottle of red wine, a Syrah that the waiter assured me was an easy drinking wine, and it was. I had the "margarita" to start- scallops, avocado lime ice, all together in a cocktail glass. It was a really interesting dish. I love the tartness and tiny bit of sweetness from the lime ice and thought it was very ceviche like with a bit of creativity. It might be a bit sweet or tangy for some people, but I liked it. For an entree I had the swordfish with white beans, tomato and olives. A really simple dish that was executed really well. After a weekend of gluttonous eating I needed something lighter. Suz and Julie ordered the meatloaf and I know it was good as the babe was really happy to steal some bites of it. For dessert we split a cookie plate that was just the right amount of sweet for us without being too much food.

We had multiple people come and compliment the babe on his good manners, the hostess even took a turn bouncing him around on her hip. The gentlemen in the table across from us made some funny faces for him. It was just so nice to have so many people welcome him so warmly and let us have a really nice dinner together. The graciousness of all the staff made such a good impression on me that I really can't wait to go back. With so many restaurants just lacking a bit of warmth in their service in the DC area, this was just so welcome. And really nice for a group of girls who wanted a nice meal. It all just worked out really nicely.

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Dinner at Ris last night was excellent. As others have mentioned above, the staff and service are very pleasant. And the food was excellent. The special, a seafood stew, was particularly good - as was the pear clafoutis. My dining partner put together a funny but delicious and satisfying meal from two of the "small plates" (which are easy to miss on the last page of the menu, so don't miss them) - smoked trout pana cotta and salmon miso tartar - and two "sides" (broccoli rabe and cauliflower). A cocktail, smoked apricot sazerac, was really interesting (I ordered it with less-than-usual simple syrup because that's how I roll).

(Contrast Cashion's a few days ago, which I always think that I should love in theory and then never quite find myself loving in reality. Same price as Ris, perfectly pleasant food but entirely forgettable (literally can't remember what I ate), and an included gratuity on the tab for six people with nary a mention by the server. My little rant for the day is that servers should always mention an included gratuity, but should especially always mention it when they are splitting a check between two credit cards - when paying for three people one doesn't tend to assume that there is an included gratuity.)

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Dinner at Ris last night was excellent. As others have mentioned above, the staff and service are very pleasant. And the food was excellent. The special, a seafood stew, was particularly good - as was the pear clafoutis. My dining partner put together a funny but delicious and satisfying meal from two of the "small plates" (which are easy to miss on the last page of the menu, so don't miss them) - smoked trout pana cotta and salmon miso tartar - and two "sides" (broccoli rabe and cauliflower).

I was last here a couple of months ago, and I think (although my memory fails me) that I had these same two small plates, or variations thereof. My visit was enough to raise Ris up to Italic in the Dining Guide.

Given how long it took Ris to open, I think the restaurant got off to a slower start than it should have, but numerous people had recently mentioned that it was really good right now - and sure enough, it was.

A cocktail, smoked apricot sazerac, was really interesting (I ordered it with less-than-usual simple syrup because that's how I roll).

Similar to the way you do with your Sazerac, whenever I'm at Morton's, I get my dinner rolls with less-than-usual smoked apricot jelly... Cuz ... Ready For This? ... *That's How I Roll* BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!

And ...

YOU thought I was making some lame pun, when in fact the real pun was on ... (cursor over me --->)

JELLYROLL MORTON! Caught Ya!

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I've been to ris a number of times and have always had good food. We have also generally had good service.

This year we went for Christmas Eve. This is the second year we have done so. (We used to go to Ruppert's for Christmas Eve. After they closed, we started going to 1789. But the reservations are hard to get, and lately we have not found the food as good as it used to be.) Last year was great, despite the fact that we were a large party with late reservations.

The food was excellent (well, except for the pineapple upside-down cake, which was not as described on the menu, and was absolutely my least favorite thing I have ever eaten there. Not worth the calories.)

Our waiter was very pleasant and very professional, but...

There were 6 of us. 4 did the Christmas Eve menu (one did the wine pairings), 2 ordered a la carte. We ordered a bottle of wine.

We waited a LONG time for the waiter to come for initial drink orders. We waited even longer for bread, and for him to come for food orders. He thanked us for our patience. He failed to tell us about changes to the menu until we asked specific questions about specific items. (Later in the meal, he also failed to tell me about changes to the dessert I ordered until it came out different than expected and I asked about it.)

It went downhill from there. The pacing was off. The wine pairings were quite delayed. The pacing was really badly off, resulting in 4 people sitting with food in front of them while the other 2 waited for almost 10 minutes at one point.

They handled it well. The waiter apologized. The woman who appeared to be the floor manager apologized.

But the problems continued. We know they were working hard to remedy the issues, but could not seem to straighten it out. No, we didn't ask for a manager, because we saw that the manager was already involved, and knew what was going on.

So, I have a bit of a quandary. It was an off night. They noticed, apologized, and attempted to resolve - that speaks well. But it wasn't really resolved, as the pacing/coordination problems continued through the entire meal, and the lack of information was really annoying - this does not speak so well.

I'm inclined to write it off as one off night. We will certainly go back, as the food is great, we saw them notice and attempt to correct problems, and they have a good record with us. But will we trust them again for an important dinner? I don't know. Was it because it was Christmas Eve? Was it the waiter? Was it the kitchen? Why couldn't they recover once they identified the problems? Was it because we arrived 10 minutes late for our reservation? (We then had to wait another 10 minutes to be seated, so I'm thinking that wasn't it, but it could be.)

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We were there on Christmas Eve as well. We arrived early for our 8PM reservation and headed to the bar. It was about 8:20 and I checked with the front desk and they were about to seat us finally (no big deal, it's Christmas Eve and there were several large parties there, and they obviously overran their 'likely' time slot. We were trying to settle up at the bar and they ended up pouring us a couple of extra glasses of prosecco to make up for the wait.

There were pacing issues that night in the food, but when it came it was really great. FWIW, we ordered a la carte. I suspect the issues for the night were likely because of the holiday, large parties, and they somehow got behind and never got back on track. When we were sitting at the bar, several drink orders were returned, so either they screwed it up, or (and I suspect more likely) there were some picky folks (just a guess).

Unless things are horrifically bad, I roll with it, and what few issues we had were minor. I actually enjoyed the evening quite a lot. I'll be back.

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Brunch at Ris on Sunday marked a first visit for me.  A group of four of us enjoyed great food and excellent service at around $55 per person tax and tip included.  Given we were all had entrees, shared a large cookie plate and had a couple cocktails a piece, I think that's a great value for the neighborhood.

2 burgers and fries and 2 Benedicts.  I went the traditional route with ham, while Hubby went with the Maryland style that included crab and a super yummy onion potato cake.  (Yes, for those paying attention that was back-to-back Benedicts..Ris won.)  A side of asparagus was quite large and really tasty too.  Wish the outdoor seats offered a bit more comfort, but that's the only negative of an otherwise great visit.  Would like to get back to explore the dinner menu.

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Went here again about a month ago (excuse was one of our birthdays). Good meal. Pacing was fine. Got to sit at the very back part of the restaurant for the first time and it was nice to get a different view on things. Server was good, but *slightly* too clingy, but possibly only because he wanted to jabber a bit about the food since we were clearly enjoying the experience.

The food.

Smoked Salmon Pate - I was ogling the herring, but they were out. This was still fitting the bill and delicious. I just wanted the herring so bad.

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Grilled Octopus Salad - Good an delicious. I was expecting it to be more of octopus 'salad' than Salad with octopus, but it was well dressed and quite good.

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Country Pork and Hazelnut Terrine fresh cherry mostarda, cornichons and figs  - tasty but still not up to the heights of what I have had elsewhere (Palena, among others) but delicious.

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Basque Pimiento Cheese Agnolotti (orange and green olives, linguií§a sausage and roasted garlic) - This was GREAT. Just great.

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Portuguese Seafood Stew with scallop, clams, mussels, cod, shrimp and octopus fennel, linguií§a, chickpeas, tomato romesco sauce and grilled bread. Slurptastically good. Only truly minor nit was the shrimp was a tad overcooked. But that really did not blemish the dish at all for me. I could eat this - a lot.

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Portuguese Skirt Steak (I lifted the description from their website and it sounds like it is the same, but they may do variations on this and it was over a month ago so my memory is a smidge foggy) - on Calasparra rice with pickled peppers, garlic crisps, caramelized onions and a fried egg) - this was very satisfying and delicious. I'd get it again, but the seafood stew was the winner of the main dishes on this visit.

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Butterscotch Pudding with a cocoa crisp, chantilly cream and bittersweet chocolate sorbet - All I really needed was the butterscotch pudding (well maybe the crisp too) - I think they brought this out because we waived them off as too full - can't remember. I liked it!

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Ris continues to be a good restaurant with very solid food, good service and a really nice space. Some of their dishes are exemplary. We'll be back.

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Went in July and enjoyed it quite a lot again. Good service, still the nice space. Really, really good food. ENjoyed corn agolotti in parmagianno broth, crispy sweetbreads with fennel slaw orange and capers, glorious lamb chops with feta scalloped potatoes and a delicious sauce, a large pork chop with peaches, onion, corn pudding and more. ANd cherry pie. Mmm. Still recommended.

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