Pumpkin Soup at Ripple, Courtesy of Elizabeth Parker
I checked out Ripple when they first opened back in 2010, before there had been much buzz about it, before the restaurant expanded and back when it was one of those restaurants that I just had a good feeling about. The restaurant has changed chefs and menus through its almost two-year history, but one thing has remained a constant: the food.
One thing that stands out right away when you go to Ripple is the presentation. There are thoughtful details on each plate, such as the rouge pumpkin soup that’s poured at the table for a little added effect. The thick, bright soup goes with a somewhat unusual combination of eggplant, pine nuts, cippolini and squid, and somehow it all works well together. If you want to go for something a little heavier, try the mushroom risotto with the poached egg nestled on top. The runny egg yolk and tender mushrooms over a bowl of hot risotto make for great comfort food on a chilly day. And whereas other restaurants have little bites or snacks that are tasteless throwaways, the bacon-roasted pecans are addictive and pleasantly salty and smoky. If you go and the pork rillette is back on the menu, don’t pass it up.
Bacon-roasted pecans at Ripple, Courtesy of Elizabeth Parker
Another good thing about Ripple is that the meal keeps building upon itself. Whereas other places might start out with a bang and fizzle after a good appetizer, or cop out with a mediocre dessert, Ripple doesn’t let you down. While I went with the black bass and was definitely happy with my dish, I had a little bit of dinner envy when someone else ordered a perfectly cooked and seasoned strip loin. It’s both a blessing and a curse that the executive chef Logan Cox changes the menu almost weekly, because the sunchokes side dish was phenomenal though I don’t see it on their menu at the moment.
I’m also a fan of any place that has a sense of humor and Ripple shows off its wit through the cocktail list. Look no further than the clever names such as “It’s not a tumeric” or “You’re killing me” made with Smalls gin. In a restaurant with sophisticated dishes and decor that’s an “eyeful,” in the words of Tom Sietsema (I think Tom was being complimentary here, but no matter, the decor and ambience are fantastic in Ripple), the playful cocktail menu breaks up any misperceptions about Ripple being too formal.
Strip loin at Ripple, Courtesy of Elizabeth Parker
Should you manage to have room for dessert after the charcuterie, the appetizers, the entrees and the plentiful side dishes, there’s a very simple way to round out your meal–baked-to-order chocolate chip cookies with milk. Another playful note on the menu, you’ll feel at home in Ripple when you get to dunk your warm chocolate chip cookies in a glass of cold milk. You can’t go wrong with any of the homemade ice creams, either.
Ripple is located in Cleveland Park at 3417 Connecticut Ave NW.