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Tom Sietsema Digs the Playful Vibe at The Riggsby

Plus, reviews of Mazadar, Bar Civita and more.

The Riggsby
The Riggsby
R. Lopez

Tom Sietsema calls The Riggsby near Dupont Circle one of the neighborhood's most promising restaurant openings in a long time. In his First Bite column for the Washington Post, he seems to enjoy the "timeless" interior complete with tabletops draped in white linens as much as chef Michael Schlow's updated American comfort food. He writes:

"At Riggsby, the chefs … came up with a list that suits the timeless interior. Bar snacks of jalapeño tater tots and chorizo-filled mushrooms give way to sardines and beef carpaccio, followed by entrees including slow-cooked salmon and an herbed côte de boeuf for two. The food is at once familiar and fresh." [WaPo]

Tim Carman reviews Mazadar in Fairfax for his $20 Diner column in the Washington Post. The experience has him pondering the dangers of sipping wine in the owners' native land of Afghanistan but makes him hope their rustic cuisine will flourish here. He writes:

"The kitchen has a way with dough-based dishes: Its mantu dumplings are supple ground-beef pockets festooned with meat sauce, yogurt and olive oil; the chicken sambosa looks like a beer-bloated empanada and conceals perhaps the most delicately spiced filling I’ve ever tasted; the surfboard-shaped naan combines the chewiness of traditional Indian flatbread with the crackly skin of a fine baguette."

There are also many familiar items on the lamb-heavy menu like soup and kebabs, but Carman says they're in need of salt and pepper applied at the table. Vegetarian dishes and the desserts are actually the stars of the menu. [WaPo]

Ana Limpert files a review of Bar Civita in Woodley Park for Washingtonian magazine. She finds much to like but also some disappointments. The bread selection, house-made ricotta and pork sausage with polenta impress, but the pasta dishes are overcooked and under-seasoned. She writes:

"Long, wide strands of strascinati were flabby and overcooked and, despite being tossed with clams and mussels, begged for salt. Gnocchi with goat cheese, spring vegetables, and charred-tomato brown butter was one of those dishes that read beautifully on the menu but showed up tasting dull and overly buttered."

Although Limpert likes the lasagnette with lamb ragu, she still recommends sticking to main courses like the bar steak with oregano fries and confited roast chicken. She still leaves feeling like Bar Civita has plenty of potential. [Washingtonian]

Like Tom Sietsema, Don Rockwell also visits The Riggsby this week but isn't as taken with it. He likes the schnitzel and chorizo-stuffed mushrooms (although he says they were dried out), but he has major complaints about the bar. He recalls an interaction with the bartender:

"I asked him what type of Vodka he used in that first drink. He pulled the bottle up from underneath the bar, and held it before my eyes: Skyy. Strike two, my friend: this is a $14 bottle of rot-gut, and it’s no wonder you were trying to get rid of it – what happened to the "high-quality vodka" in the description?"

After a glass of wine, Rockwell realizes he forgot his wallet. But the bartender is understanding when he goes out to the car to get it, so Rockwell ultimately forgives him for the vodka transgression.

Rockwell also returns to 2 Amys in Cathedral Heights and declares it "arguably the greatest and most important restaurant in the history of Washington, DC." Finally, he visits El Rancho in Arlington and calls it "definitely a working-man's restaurant."  [DR]

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