In this day and age where social media and top media lists are becoming a dime a dozen, it’s hard for one to know which lists are credible. So, my challenge this year is to attempt to try as many of the top 100 restaurants listed by the Washingtonian each year to put to the test of their actual greatness. So here’s the first entry for their 2014 list. Get ready. Eat. Indulge!
#41 RIS– 2275 L Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037*
Walking into the restaurant, you get a great classy ambiance. We had the great stroke of luck to be able to sit right next to the kitchen–they opened up the doors for a private party and we got to see the hustle and bustle of the kitchen line and chef.
This restaurant is listed as a moderately priced restaurant; however, the knowledgeable waitstaff and excellent service would fit right in at an upscale restaurant. We were offered a complimentary carrot soup which was rich and full of flavor–not what you would expect from a simple looking carrot soup.
I am a sucker for chicken liver and paté so when I saw that they had a Chicken Liver Parfait on the menu, I had to try it. The chicken liver was combined with roasted strawberries, balsamic glaze and raisin walnut bread. The roasted strawberries and balsamic glaze was a delicious touch; however, I wasn’t a fan of the raisin walnut bread. It was a bit tough and difficult to eat with the liver. I would have preferred to use the liver as a spread so I ended up eating it with the complimentary bread. But the liver was nice and creamy.
Their Asparagus Salad was a nice refreshing salad perfect for the springtime; however, I would’ve loved to have more grapefruit to balance out the amount of greens on the plate.
The next appetizer we had to try was their Scallop Margarita since it was recommended as a “Don’t Miss.” This dish will definitely open up your eyes and taste buds. Scallops sitting in lime, chilies, orange, avocado and tequila ice are sure to wake up (ok, assault) every single one of your taste buds. This dish just wasn’t for me. The first bite was incredible, but the next four to five were disappointing. The tequila ice was really fun and interesting to eat with the scallops, but the amount of citrus flavor was overpowering. If I were to return to RIS, this would not be a dish I would order again.
Another dish that was on the “Don’t Miss” was their Braised Lamb Shank. This dish was enormous and included a colorful combination of chickpeas, yogurt, toasted pita, pomegranate, mint and pine nuts. This was another overpowering dish–I was not a fan of this warm yogurt sauce because it tasted rancid. I loved the chickpeas, pomegranate and pine nuts. The meat was a little tough. This is another dish I would not order again.
I did enjoy the Pine Nut Crusted Wild Alaska Halibut. I feel like you can’t go wrong with a nice flaky white fish. The prosciutto added a nice saltiness to a normally mild flavored fish.
And last but not least…the dessert to kick all of your taste buds into overdrive. The Ginger Citrus Bouquet is a crème fraiche panna cotta topped with a spiced tulle, blood orange cream and grapefruit granita. The rich, creamy, mild panna cotta was a star with the grapefruit granita giving it a sweet and sour punch. This dessert is certainly something to indulge in.
So my overall take on RIS being #41 on the Washingtonian’s Top 100 of 2014 list? I say they deserve to be there. The restaurant has great ambiance and some good dishes.
* Restaurants are tiered by Washingtonian rating.