We celebrated our anniversaries on Wednesday evening at RIPPLE in Cleveland Park and had a superb time. I say anniversaries, as we have Oct 3 for our more recent (2010) legal wedding and Oct 1 for our first commitment ceremony which was 20 years ago! The menu is not too large and Devon, our terrific server, was most helpful in helping us negotiate the different choices. The wine list is amazing and we headed right to the Georges Vernay "Les Terrasses de L'Empire" 2008 Viognier, Condrieu from a winery we have visited and adored for ages. The Condrieu grape (a specific Viognier grown in the Rhone Valley in a very small steep region on the river) offered a creamy luscious and almost orgasmic flavor that we shall remember for a long time.
The dining room is long and narrow and there is a bar and lounge area in a similar long and narrow area where you walk in. The tables are wood with banquettes and decent comfy chairs opposite. There are several "pewter"-looking old-looking chandeliers and lots of cute artwork. We were seated towards the rear where there was one very large table with a very loud crowd, but they quieted down after a while. We arrived at 730pm, and by 8pm, the place was full and a bit too noisy for our tastes, but not awful. At one point a lady at a nearby table got so loud and screechy, I asked Will to re-relate the story of his ancestor who was murdered at a pub for being too loud! I was considering this option for a while until she left!
Our shared starter of HAMACHI CRUDO arrived with Edamame Puree, Crispy Ginger and Yuzu aigre-doux(sweet/sour) which was superb due to that crunchy ginger and the sweet/sour combo. It was also divine with the Condrieu.
We went on to separate starters and Will had the STUFFED BONE MARROW which is easily one of the not-to-be-missed dishes in DC. It is a huge bone filled with tasty marrow, house bacon, chimichurri and a slash of apple butter on the plate to temper the dish's intensity. The marrow and bacon are inherently salty, so I am not sure why there was a small pile of sea salt on the corner of the plate! I ordered the MATSUTAKE MUSHROOMS with DUCK EGG, Chanterelle Puree & Fontina Focaccia, and when a small plate of extremely tasty wild mushrooms arrived, I asked where my egg and focaccia were. I apparently was served the side order of Wild Mushrooms, which was great, Will and I split this and polished it off while I awaited my appetizer. Devon explained it was brand new on the menu and the kitchen had made a small error. It appeared in 4 minutes and was another superb dish that impressed me with its wonderful layered flavors and I loved the multi-colored radish slices and pickled onion.
We moved onto a divine red which the manager Caroline helped us pick. We had just been to Shea Wine Cellars in Oregon for a private tasting with Peter Shea and were wowed by their single block vineyards so we had the BLOCK 23 Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir 2009 which is just drinking gorgeously after 5 years in the bottle. We tasted the more recent 2011 vintages at the winery, so we shall wait several years to drink the wine we purchased! Will loved the clove flavors in the wine; I just adored the whole damn thing!
On a trek to the men's room I adored the gigantic spoon, knife and fork decorating the wall and I was thrilled to return to find our neighboring screechy cantatrice (that's Italian for singer, but she really sqauked)
Will's main was HOUSEMADE SPAGHETTI with olive-oil poached Tuna Belly, Tilefish Cheek & Manila clams, a hearty dish for sure despite the seafood; any pasta lover would be impressed. My SEARED DUCK BREAST came rare and juicy with Roasted Beets, Baby Turnips, Celery & Watercress Puree that was the most awesome pairing with the Block 23! We were both very happy with our choices and by now, the dining room had quieted down so we could enjoy quiet conversation.
Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley arrived to greet us and we gushed raves as everything was indeed sensational. She has become probably the most famous up and coming female chef in DC and has really made a name for herself. She will be one of the challengers in the DC Central Kitchen Food Fight next month!
We had seen the cheese tray near the entrance and had our hearts set, so we chose several to share:
RONCAL-Spanish sheep from Navarre that was sharp and tangy;I called it Manchego-go-home
MONACACY ASH-a 90days aged goat from Boyds, MD> with vegetable ash rind that I always love for it's tanginess and goat creaminess
BABY HAZEN BLUE from Greensboro, VT that is also a creamy blue but so mild I felt I was not having blue
FELSA YAHR-a superb creamy nutty sheep, cave-aged washed rind from Howard, PA
HARBISON-cow wrapped in bark from Harbison, VT that was the winner with an almost triple crème feel
These came with tasty Clover Honey and Apple Butter as well as spiced flatbread which we promptly took a taste of and packed up to go so we could enjoy more.
Our dessert choices were PANNA COTTA for Will-Poached Pear, Almond-Oat Crumble, Ginger Coulis and Honey Jelly and my CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT BAR with Dulce de Leche, Cherries, Buttermilk Sherbert that we shared and both enjoyed a lot; latter being a superb dense choco lover's dream and the panna cotta a lighter yet tasty option.
A glass of Smith Woodhouse 200 Colheita Port was nice with the chocolate bars!
We headed home having had a very happy anniversary meal.