I Fell for Reveler’s Hour

There is a Japanese proverb- Fall seven times and stand up eight. It is a timely sentiment about resilience and perseverance, even when failure seems inevitable.

I recently suffered a foot injury as the result of a fall, and so this proverb resonates.  (Pro Tip:  Stay off your phone and pay attention to obstacles on the sidewalk.)  I’m currently sporting a heavily padded boot and gliding around with the aid of a knee scooter.  It’s been weeks and I’m still dealing with the after effects of my trip-up, but thankfully recovery is happening.

Shortly after suffering my injury, I’m due to have dinner at Reveler’s Hour, the sister to one of my favorite DC restaurants, Tail Up Goat. The restaurant opened in Adam’s Morgan on December 31, 2019, with a focus on pasta and wine. The thought of cancelling is too much to bear, so I use crutches to propel myself from the car to a cozy window-adjacent booth with a view of Columbia Road.  I scan the QR code and pull the menu up on my phone, and then I fall again…hard.  It’s nothing serious or even injurious. It’s just my reaction to the allure of each and every dish on the menu.

The Reveler’s Hour menu is crafted by Executive Chef Jon Sybert, who co-owns the restaurant with his wife Jill Tyler along with Bill Jensen, who serves as beverage director. Dishes change frequently but typically there are seven or eight classified as “firsts,” five pastas, and at the moment… spicy, hot, honey-glazed chicken. Ordering one of each isn’t feasible for two people, but damn it’s so tempting.

Our visit coincides with the imminent decline of corn and tomatoes, so I hone in on dishes featuring these two ingredients. If it’s possible to extend summer and delay fall a bit longer, I’m all in.

When stracciatella is on a menu, it’s destined to land on my table. I love everything about this soft, creamy, glistening cheese. It’s paired with a bright array of tomatoes and a simple dusting of olive oil, crunchy salt, pepper, and basil. The current menu replaces tomatoes with an equally swoon-worthy combination of delicata squash, red onion agrodolce, and toasted walnuts.

Reveler’s Hour stracciatella

Baked ricotta is capped off with sweet corn and scallions and served with focaccia. In my head is a plan to exercise restraint and leave room for the rest of the meal. The illusion is shattered once I slather a heaping spoonful of cheese and corn on the golden-crusted focaccia.

Reveler’s Hour baked ricotta

Corn ravioli with sungold tomatoes is a perfect union of tomatoes and corn. (I wasn’t kidding when I said I was going all in on these two.) Generous flecks of bacon and Calabrian chili breadcrumbs add heat, texture and a wow factor.

Reveler’s Hour corn ravioli

I glance up from my plate long enough to notice my husband, who is reveling in  -you know I had to put this in somewhere- a sumptuous dish of tagliatelle with pistachio pesto, grilled filet beans, and espelette breadcrumbs.

Reveler’s Hour tagliatelle

In keeping with the restaurant’s name, Reveler’s Hour staff help promote a jovial atmosphere.  Jensen flits from the bar to tables, chatting up guests and imparting his wine knowledge. You can’t help but leave feeling buoyed by the experience.

A September 8 article by Washington City Paper food editor, Laura Hayes is concerning. The Reveler’s Hour owners applied for a grant from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which was declined.  From the article:

RRF grants are a key factor that can propel a restaurant into an actual recovery phase. ….More than 370,000 businesses applied to the $28.6 billion federal relief fund and only 105,000 were approved. Even if the RRF is replenished, Jensen isn’t so sure there’s a solidified future for restaurants like his without “a return to normal public life” or additional relief from the federal government. “This style of restaurant—a neighborhood hub that’s high volume and still delivers food and service at a high level—will disappear, at least for independent operators,” he says. “We need more help.”

Tom Sietsema of The Washington Post just named Reveler’s Hour number two on his list of top ten favorite restaurants. It’s high praise. In fact, co-owner Jill Tyler says this could buy them another six months before they have to decide whether they must close.

I will recover from my injury. I hope Reveler’s Hour and the nearly 200,000 restaurants nationwide that are in danger of closing permanently will be able to pick themselves up as well.

***Call your representatives to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund now at 202.224.3121.  For more information visit https://www.saverestaurants.com/

Reveler’s Hour, 1775 Columbia Road, NW, Washington, DC

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