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  • Reservations Recommended

    Restaurant Review ~ The Riggsby / Carlyle Hotel, 1731 New Hampshire Ave., NW

    While the local restaurant scene is growing more crowded daily, not every destination gets stars. But when you find yet a second place by famous restaurateur and chef Michael Schlow, DC foodies surely band together for a rousing cheer. His first location, Tico, on 14th Street, NW, has been quite the rage for more than a year, drawing in crowds to sample its inventive Latino dishes plus to sip on over 80 different tequilas. It is a fun, cheery, and cheerful setting.

    To make a contrast Schlow has opened his second restaurant that is quite the opposite: formal, new American, businesslike for the professionals needing to meet and greet. Its name: The Riggsby Fine Food & Drink, located in the Carlyle Hotel across from (naturally) where Riggs Place enters into New Hampshire Avenue. True, The Riggsby is a not on the beaten path and is located in a rather quiet area, but Schlow, besides being a top-tier chef, is a consummate businessman.

    Consider his background: A Brooklyn native, Schlow in his early teens started his culinary career by working as a dishwasher. Before too long his passion for cooking vaulted him into the food world, where he got his culinary degree at the Academy of Culinary Arts in New Jersey. Upon graduation, he trained in several high-end restaurants before moving to Boston to open one of his several restaurants there and elsewhere. Now Schlow has received numerous culinary awards, including winning the James Beard award as Best Chef in the Northeast.

    So with all this acclaim, Schow has set up a destination for patrons to enjoy quietly elegant meals. Walking into the wood-paneled dining room — which seems much like a sedate club — patrons can choose between booths or tables, or if it’s happy hour time, can pull up a bar stool. While sipping a cocktail or glass of wine, and enjoying the artwork covering every nook and cranny, they can then peruse the menu.

    For lunch, the starter selection covers many bases, from oysters to sautéed calamari to avocado toast with crabmeat and jalapeño. True cheese lovers, however, will not skip past the creamy burrata, always a winner on any menu. This scoop of cheese is paired with diced summer tomatoes and accompanied by toasted slices of country bread.

    Main course offerings also run the gamut, from a house hamburger served with bacon jam to fresh spaghetti to steak frites. Tender and delicate, the slow-cooked salmon with zucchini and capers is a first-class offering. However, the crispy eggplant slices, called “crunchy eggplant parm,” sadly missed the mark: not enough crunch and not enough parm.

    Oh, well. The dessert righted the meal with the old-fashioned chocolate cake filled with gooey chocolate and accented by caramel and a scoop of ice cream. Also tempting is the goat’s milk cheesecake, the go-to dessert for the next meal.

    The Riggsby / beakfast 7-10:30am Mon.-Fri., 8-10:30am Sat. & Sun.; lunch 11:30am-3pm daily; Sunday brunch 11am-3pm; dinner 5-10:30pm daily. 202-234-3400; www.theriggsby.com.

     

     

    Alexandra Greeley is a food writer, editor, and restaurant reviewer. She has authored books on Asian and Mexican cuisines published by Simon & Schuster, Doubleday, and Macmillan. Other credits include restaurant reviews and food articles for national and regional publications, as well as former editor of the Vegetarian Times and former food editor/writer for the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. Click here to visit her website.