For all those devout foodies who have lived in the D.C. for years, chef Ris Lacoste will be a familiar kitchen name. She’s known for preparing innovative American dishes that are often flavored with ethnic undertones. Because of her superb culinary skills, Lacoste received numerous honors and awards. The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington named her Chef of the Year in 1999. Lacoste also received a nomination from the James Beard Foundation.
With her training, professional skills, and clever and creative dishes, it’s no surprise Lacoste decided to open her own restaurant — which is called Ris (2275 L St. NW). Ris has a fetching corner location, attractive outdoor seating, and a striking modern interior. It also has a bar area and separated dining sections.
The big draw of this restaurant, of course, is the menu. Not surprisingly, Lacoste and her creative staff renew, revise, and change dishes for each season. For example, Ris serves fried green tomatoes, cheeseburgers, and a “Crown of Cauliflower” — which is made from spaghetti squash, lentils, pine nuts, pomegranate, and pieces of cauliflower.
At the request, the kitchen reduced the main course size to a shareable appetizer. The dish did sound mysterious. But it was totally tempting. If Lacoste keeps it on her seasonal menu, snap it up.
Other appealing appetizers include her crispy Thai fried okra, which is sprinkled with thick pieces of crisped bacon and peanuts with a sweet-hot chili dunking sauce. Okra may not be a universal favorite. But Lacoste wraps each piece in a crispy batter, adding both crunch and flavor.
Other appetizer possibilities include mussels served with chorizo, grilled bread and herbs, and an exotic-sounding miso salmon tartare with wasabi cream and Sriracha aioli. Ris serves wonton crisps and a classic gazpacho, the beloved Spanish dish traditionally made from flavorful seasonal tomatoes.
Three salad bowl options—including a classic wedge and tomato with feta and watermelon— provide a light lunch entrée or a second course that leads to Lacoste’s main dishes. Besides the thick cheeseburger and whopping-sized buns, patrons may find Lacoste’s chicken Milanese with prosciutto and garlic-roasted potatoes fascinating. Ris also has a Maryland lump crab cake with corn, potato, and tomato succotash.
The steak frites was probably the star of the day’s entrées. This entrée has a big portion of grilled hanger steak, which is cut into pieces. The steak frites comes with a side of fries, spinach, and tomato with a garlic sauce. Expensive? Yes. But it was an outstanding main dish.
Furthermore, do not skip off without dessert! Stunning in its rich chocolateness is the flourless chocolate torte. It’s probably all butter and heavy cream blended artfully into a decadent dessert. Other sweets may be listed. But this takes the cake.
Lacoste offers numerous treats. She has daily specials, a cheese board, a bar menu, special takeout dishes, a takeaway lunch box, and carefully-selected wine and cocktail choices. Ris is the go-to restaurant for numerous holidays, book-signings, and special events. Lacoste even offers a wacky “popsicle mimosa brunch” on Sundays.
For more information about Ris, call 202-730-2500. You can also visit the restaurant’s website. Ris is open on Monday to Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. On Saturdays, the restaurant opens at 5:00 p.m. and closes at 9:30 p.m. Ris is also open on Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.