Ris Rises

Written by Anita
January 17, 2010

Amidst an early December snow, Ris—one of the most anticipated restaurants to come onto the DC dining scene in some time—quietly opened its doors. The work of veteran DC-chef Ris Lacoste (formerly of 1789), the restaurant was “a long time coming,” Ris admits. But her partner, Mitchell Herman, qualifies this, saying that it was all in an effort to get things just right. Early signs suggest that Ris was worth the wait. The space is cheery, with expansive picture windows facing the streetscape and pale butter-colored chairs and delicate Asian art gracing the dining room. There’s a space to fit every mood too—from the casual bar area to the formal back private room (complete with its own entrance). We only sampled a few of the menu’s offerings on our first visit, but they left us wanting to try more. Start with a light, crisp Caesar salad—escarole and romaine topped with a lemony (yolkless) fresh anchovy vinaigrette and parmesan cream. You won’t go wrong if you follow that with the braised lamb shank—a Flinstonesque-sized shank of fall-off-the-bone lamb, topped with a Lebanese-inspired mixture of chick peas, dense creamy yogurt, pita chips, fresh pomegranates, mint, sliced radishes, and pine nuts. Ris hopes to become a traditional neighborhood café, eventually serving breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. Available in the bar, café, dining room, or to-go, chef Lacoste’s menu items reflect a mix of classic comfort foods and innovative dishes—with a focus on fresh market produce. The restaurant has daily themed specials, ranging from a meatloaf night on Mondays to fish night on Fridays. The weekend lineup includes date night (steak) Saturday and family-style Sunday suppers (each with its own themed cuisine). “I want to bring people back to the table,” chef Lacoste declares. Indeed, she hopes to offer cooking demonstrations and wine/beer dinners sometime within the next year. Guess we’ll be waiting a bit longer to experience all that Ris has to offer!
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