Update: Changes Abound

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,

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Crispy Brussels Sprouts

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

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Heritage Farms Pork Chops

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

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Steak Lovers, Rejoice!

BAR VASQUEZ

1425 Aliceanna Street, Baltimore, MD 21231 (https://www.barvasquez.com/)

** and 1/2 (Good/Very Good)

We tend to have good luck when it comes to Baltimore restaurateurs. Spike and Amy Gjerde, and their fantastic tandem: Woodberry Kitchen and Parts & Labor (and the excellent Artifact Coffee), have always served us well in Clipper Mill/Hampden/Charles Village. But for restaurateurs in Harbor East, look no further than Foreman-Wolf, the duo behind many of the city’s best, including the excellent Charleston, and the newly-opened Bar Vasquez. So when our friends recommended trying the newest venture from Chef Wolf, we gladly accepted. With the most recent Wolf-helmed dinner under our belts, I think it’s safe to say that our lucky streak continues.

Continue reading “Steak Lovers, Rejoice!”

Asian Food Meets French Technique

KYIRISAN

1924 8th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001 (http://www.kyirisandc.com/)

** and 1/2 (Good/Very Good)

Pressure had to have been high for Chef Tim Ma. He left the comforts of Arlington, Virginia, where his original restaurant Water & Wall had been receiving positive reviews, to start up a new venture in D.C. While Water & Wall remains under Ma’s supervision, he added the much-anticipated Kyirisan to the continually expanding Shaw District. Kyirisan, which describes its menu as Chinese-French, blends seemingly disparate techniques and ingredients into harmonious and, most importantly, delicious food. If our meal was any indication of Ma’s skill, he made the right choice in expanding: I have no doubt that the District will continue to flock to Kyirisan.

Continue reading “Asian Food Meets French Technique”

On the Road with CPT: Charleston

The first time I came across Chef Sean Brock was on the beloved PBS Show, The Mind of a Chef. Here was this bearded, bespectacled fella, giggling along with Chef David Chang as they ate way-too spicy Kentucky Hot Chicken and then pounded whiskey at a distillery. But then he started talking about heritage cooking and utilizing South Carolina ingredients that were long forgotten; some of which nearly disappeared. The pride he showed in describing his love of food was inspiring. It was while watching this passionate side of Brock, that I made sure to make a mental note to put his flagship restaurant, Husk, on my list of must-try restaurants. So when my wife and I were searching for a honeymoon destination in the U.S., I threw out Charleston as a possibility. Spoiler alert: between the views and the food, Charleston did not disappoint.

Continue reading “On the Road with CPT: Charleston”

A New Home

Well, that was fast! Just when everyone had been introduced to Chew, Party of Two over at Blogger, the blog went ahead and moved… Sorry for the quick, and mostly unannounced change, but we felt as though WordPress provided more offerings to our readers (hello, subscription button!). As I told my wife, I’m looking to develop this blog for the long haul – and building a contingent of regular readers is a big part of that. My hope is that our new home at WordPress will help accomplish that!

We’re looking forward to 2016 and all the restaurants it has to offer! Keep your eyes open for new reviews soon!

-Chew, Party of Two