Going into Ris DC I had very high expectations for the food, atmosphere, and service. Located in the West End neighborhood of DC, between Georgetown/Foggy Bottom/Dupont Circle, Ris is very convenient to many businesses, luxury hotels, and apartments. The menu looks phenomenal and upon first read one might find themselves drooling over the descriptions. Unfortunately, my food experience can only be described as good – not great. Good is not bad, please don’t get me wrong, but it could have been better.
Shortly after being seated at a two-top table on the end of a row containing three other two-tops (when in reality they were far too cramped to have this many in a row), a very polite and knowledgeable waiter came to take drink and wine orders while the menu was examined. Surveying the restaurant, it was packed (Saturday night after all) with a nice interior and lively conversations.
To start, the grilled octopus salad was ordered, and split prior to being brought to the table as the waiter knew the dish was being shared. This a big plus. The octopus was braised in red wine, then finished on the grill. The char was perfect, and served at room temperature which was nice. Nothing like something very hot to wilt a nice bed of greens. Accompanied with feta cheese, cucumber slices, and cured lemon, served over spinach with a yogurt sauce, the dish was well balanced and flavorful. It was a good dish, but nothing really stood out. I feel like a textural contrast was needed, as well as more citrus – something to brighten up the plate.
Moving on and upon many Twitter recommendations (thank you), the sea scallops were ordered. Scallops are one of a handful of items that must be cooked properly using the right temperature and technique to get a perfect sear while remaining tender and not dried out. Thankfully, these were cooked perfectly. Served over a bed of winter squash risotto with kale, brown butter, and sage, the dish was perfectly balanced and appropriate given the season. The scallops had a perfect brown sear on the outside – this dish was great.
In addition to the scallops, the grilled rib-eye steak was ordered (medium rare), however looked like a very confused plate when served. Reminding me of something from a chain restaurant in presentation, I felt it was thrown together in both presentation and ingredient combination. Served over wilted greens – which make sense – it was accompanied with pickles, grilled onion, garlic potatoes, and had a crostini with melted cheese virtually leaning over the plate. The massive amount of milky melted cheese and the placement of the crostini left the bread soggy, salty, and unnecessary; it didn’t add anything to the dish. As for the combination of grilled onions, bacon, and potatoes, which would have made sense on their own, the pickles provided a strange, bitter and salty flavor that did not match the rich sauce on the dish. Further, the rib-eye steak was de-boned and trussed. I know this because the string was still wrapped around my steak. Resembling more of a round-eye, and not a rib-eye, I am not sure why it was trussed prior to being grilled. Maybe it was braised or stewed? Maybe it was not a rib-eye cut? Regardless, a proper rib-eye steak, in my opinion, needs the bone to impart additional flavor into the meat. With the bone in, it takes nicely to a hot grill imparting a rich meaty flavor into the cut – a flavor which was either lacking, or completely overpowered by the pickles and onions. This dish, was interesting and maybe it was simply not appealing to my palate.
Pushing thoughts of pickles and trussed meat away, a bottle of champagne was ordered to accompany dessert – fresh ricotta cheese cake with pistachios, orange and pomegranate. The cake itself was okay, a bit spongy with an odd texture, however the pairing of the tart, bitter fruits was a great idea and completely made sense. The cake itself could have used some work.
Maybe it was a off night? Perhaps I ordered poorly and did not fully comprehend the description of my entree on the menu prior to ordering. Regardless, Ris DC was good, don’t get me wrong, I was just expecting it to be great.
Where: Ris DC, 2275 L Street NW, Washington, DC 20037. Online.