|Bar at Ripple www.litonevents.com|
Irene made me miss my dinner reservation at Urbana last Saturday night. Since this was the the only devastation I experienced as a direct result of Irene, obviously I have no room to complain. However there was a Ripple effect from the storm, which I felt around 7:00 pm Sunday evening.
We head to Cleveland Park to meet friends with whom we have never dined before. I am always delighted when someone new expresses an interest in joining us on a food expedition. And, Ripple is definitely a bit of an adventure.
The main menu at Ripple isn’t extensive. There are four starters, four second courses, and five entree size dishes, in addition to some sides and snacks. There is another menu devoted to cheese and charcuterie, which we ignore on this visit. I realize this means we are missing out on one of the points of dining here. We don’t miss out on taking advantage of the extensive wine selection.
Some of the dishes contain ingredients we are unfamiliar with including fazzoletti, bacon dashi, purslane, and maitakes. We find ourselves googling as we ponder our choices. My friend finds the obscure ingredients somewhat off-putting and is having difficulty selecting her dishes. For the most part, I am not one to shy away from unknown ingredients, although I rule out the stuffed suckling pig with roasted peach, purslane and farro. While I eat pork, the words “suckling pig” are too much for me.
I have already decided that I want to start with “composed seasonal vegetables, with goat yogurt, and black cardamom. This is based on Tom Sietsema’s July 24 Ripple review where he states:
I’ve always admired Ripple for the warmth of its service and the wit of its dining rooms, and now I can vouch for the cooking at the year-old restaurant in Cleveland Park, too. Since Logan Cox came aboard in May, the modern American bistro has evolved from a shiny bauble into a certified gem.The chef’s seasonal salad helps explain my enthusiasm.
The salad is a bright and beautiful array of fresh vegetables including peppers, onions, beets, turnips, and more. Some of the vegetables are pickled and some are roasted. There is a swipe of mushroom puree on the side. This all seems so simple but tastes so delicious.
|Ripple composed seasonal vegetables|
My friend has chilled corn soup with charred octopus, dried olives, and cilantro. I am skeptical of the
octopus but am proven wrong. There is so much flavor in this dish. The octopus is like a prize at the bottom of the bowl floating to the top to be enjoyed. I don’t regret the vegetable salad at all, but at the same time wish I had ordered this soup.
|Ripple chilled corn soup|
We have two orders of heirloom tomato salad with charred eggplant, quinoa, ricotta, and basil. The eggplant and crunchy quinoa elevate this somewhat routine summer dish.
|Ripple heirloom tomato salad|
I am torn between the agnolotti of cubanelle peppers, gaeta olives, chanterelles, and ricotta fonduta and the strip loin with eggplant puree, maitakes (mushrooms), pattypan squash, and salsa verde. Our server steers me to the agnolotti. I am happy with the choice. The agnolotti is a richly satisfying dish. I especially like the bits of mushroom and olives as they play off of the creamy sauce. I find the strip loin (which my friend ends up ordering) tasty, but not exciting as compared to some of the other dishes.
|Ripple strip loin|
My husband orders roasted rockfish with crispy potato, garlic confit, tarragon puree, and beets. (Chef Cox seems to be very fond of purees.) I warn my husband that this dish may be bland, based on a Ripple review I read on the blog Eat More, Drink More. He is willing to take his chances. He finds the potato over-salted but is quite fond of the garlic confit. Overall, he enjoys the combination of textures and flavors in the dish.
|Ripple roasted rockfish|
The surprise of the evening is the fazzoletti (pasta) with quail ragu, sorrel, and cerignola olives. This is a second course selection, which ends up being larger than the entrees. It’s a bit curious. The dish ends up being a real winner, much to the delight of the person who initially finds the menu unapproachable. Who knew that quail ragu would taste so great?
We end our meal with three desserts out of the four menu selections, since they all sound delicious. Milk chocolate cremeux (a cross between pudding and chocolate mousse) with toasted marshmallow and crisp graham cracker is my favorite. The butterscotch pudding with chantilly cream and toffee shards is nice, but doesn’t make me scramble for the last bite. Chocolate chip cookies and milk are an interesting contrast to the elaborate dishes on the menu. The cookies are served warm and gooey. I prefer my chocolate chip cookies on the thin and crispy side, which is not to say these aren’t good. They are just not my type.
The decor at Ripple has a touch of whimsy i.e. the back dining room features a red wall textured in a ripple-like effect. The tiled bar in front is so inviting I’m tempted to sit for a spell.
Ripple, according to the website is “a neighborhood restaurant with a focus on good food, good drink, and a good time.” I don’t live anywhere near Ripple. I find that the well-executed dishes with their variety of interesting flavors and textures, makes it a worthy destination. It’s my calm after the storm.