UPDATE: THE RIGGSBY
1731 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20009 (http://www.theriggsby.com/)
** and 1/2 (Good/Very Good)
Our first experience with The Riggsby, Michael Schlow’s throwback Americana restaurant in DuPont, was disappointing to say the least. The reviews may have been glowing, but the food was lackluster, and the service felt more pushy than polished. However, a recent return trip demonstrated why the restaurant had been so lauded since its inception.
The Riggsby still has that lair-like and exclusive feel: warm banquettes, wood throughout,
and dim lighting. Service felt even warmer: informative, friendly, and efficient. And this
time around, the quality of our dinner matched the quality of the decor. A dish of Sautéed Calamari was beautifully cooked, and given a punch of acidity from tomatoes and olives. Crispy Brussels Sprouts also showcased a deftly balanced hand in the kitchen. The sprouts, crunchy from the fryer, were given a yin-yang combination of umami from a fish sauce reduction, and a sweet-sour counterbalance from pomegranate seeds.
For our entrees, we opted for the Veal Cheeks, which were fork
tender, rich and unctuous. They were paired with a creamy puree of celery root, and made for a fantastic contemporary take on a meat and potatoes dish. Heritage Farms Pork Chops
were given some additional porky oomph from homemade sausage, as well as a pop of heat and vinegar from hot cherry peppers. Meanwhile, our dinner companions raved about the Roasted Chicken and a take on Seared Scallops (the one carryover dish from our first outing; though paired with new accoutrements this time around). The one absurdity of the menu: a $70 duck special…which was carried a rather ordinary description, and (according to our server) was rightfully passed over.
The ending to the evening, a trio of desserts, left a sweet impression. Although Key Lime Pie had a nicely tart filling, it was not a standout. The Riggsby Ice Cream Sundae, on the other hand, with crushed, salted peanuts, was a nice play on the classic. But the star of the show was a simple Cookie Plate. Four different cookies provided plenty of options, but if the Peanut Butter cookie is part of the selection, consider this a lock for your order.
What a difference a year can make. Not all that long ago, I sat, puzzled, after our dinner to The Riggsby. The accolades and raves seemed unjustified, as if we had gone to a completely different establishment. But our return outing displayed the promise of that early praise. Bottom line: for a distinctly updated take on American classics, The Riggsby is a destination worthy of your time.
Atmosphere: The restaurant sits on the ground floor of The Carlyle Dupont Circle, and features comfortable banquettes, warm woods, and fun pops of color. It is a swanky place to grab a drink and a snack at the bar. Service is attentive, friendly, and well trained.
Noise: Lively. The restaurant continues to be full of hustle and bustle. Similarly, while we have been to louder restaurants, the hum at The Riggsby ensures that a raised voice will come into play here and there.
Recommended Dishes: Crispy Brussels Sprouts, Sautéed Calamari, Veal Cheeks, Roasted Chicken, Cookie Plate
Reservations: Recommended. The restaurant was busy throughout our evening.
$$$$ – $100 to $150 for dinner for two