Hungry Lobbyist was recently invited to enjoy dinner at the Georgetown Irish eatery Rí Rá. As a practicing whiskey-ist, I obliged.
My husband and I arrived on an early Sunday evening and the hostess sat us at a lovely table in the window – perfect for people-watching in one of my favorite DC neighborhoods. It had been a few years since I last visited Rí Rá, and I was looking forward to reacquainting myself with the menu.
We are people that like our veggies AND our meat. To start, we shared a heaping portion of the Superfood Salad – a robust blend of baby kale and spinach, studded with edamame and evenly dressed with lime-avocado dressing. Who says you can’t get your greens in at the pub? It was a good start to our Irish-eats journey and made us feel better about the decadent items we’d surely be consuming later on.
Next, the lamb poutine arrived. Good grief, this was a treat. The tender chunks of lamb were infused with rosemary and each spoonful was heaped with cheese curds and imported Irish curry sauce. I did not have a ton of prior poutine experience for comparison, but this seemed like a unique and delightful twist on the classic appetizer.
For the main dishes, we simply could not ignore the classics. James opted for the Fish & Chips, and I selected the Shepherd’s Pie.
Let’s talk fish first: the generous portion of battered haddock that came out of the kitchen was the size of my face with a crispy, golden shell. It came with the expected rasher of hand-cut fries and tartar sauce, but also with a side of warm green peas which we enjoyed.
The Shepherd’s Pie – at my first bite, I found myself breaking out in goosebumps and praying for fall. It was the coziest meal. The lamb was hot and toasty, swaddled in a savory herb gravy with my favorite blend of veggies – leeks, carrots, onions and peas. The pub mashed potatoes piped on top were delicately browned on the peaks and melted in my mouth.
Des Whelan, the General Manager, and his lovely wife Olive waited on us throughout the evening. Des lit up as he told us about the vision of the restaurant and pointed out the rich décor pieces placed throughout the dining room. Many of the lighting fixtures were imported straight from Ireland to maintain the authentic whiskey pub feel. The first floor is a lively mix of clinking glasses and aromas of hearty Irish plates, while the upstairs whiskey bar has a more intimate feel.
On Olive’s recommendation, we each ordered glasses of Redbreast Irish whiskey from the Cork region. Until then, my foray into Irish whiskies had extended as far as Jameson (usually in shooter form), and I was pleasantly surprised at the smooth, layered taste of Redbreast (neat, no rocks). I also snuck in a Blackjerry Julep.
Even though Irish cuisine probably pairs best with a chill in the air, Rí Rá’s menu is too tasty to for us to stay away until fall. We will surely be back in a few weeks to try the dishes we couldn’t get to – the All Day Irish Breakfast and beer-braised Reuben, in particular. What’s more, Rí Rá hosts live music Tuesday-Thursday, so at the very least you ought to pop in, treat yourself to a whiskey and enjoy some live entertainment! See you there.
Rí Rá is located at 3125 M St NW in Georgetown. Lunch and dinner M-F, plus brunch Sat-Sun.