Last night, T took me to Ris for dinner. Shawn (dear pal who was inspiration for Em-i-lis), who once heard me go off about a terrible meal at the now-closed Jack Falstaff’s in San Fran (I told them their crab cakes were a bust and how to remake them for me; when they did, they were still a bust), said I should write restaurant reviews so I thought I’d use Ris as my first go.
Ris, pronounced Riss rather than Rice or Rees, had an ambiance unlike that I’d expected or much experienced before. It was like business lunch (dimly lit, somewhat formal, attached to the Ritz) meets a soupçon of sports bar (read 2 TVs in the bar area) meets seasonal-fare-supporting (menu boasted pea shoots, sunchokes, etc). I don’t think that atmospheric combo works real well, but I was pleased with the menu and despite a cold, fairly unfriendly waitress, we had a good food experience.
I ordered a glass of an “Oak-free” -amen- CA Central Coast chard from Daniel Gehrs. It actually met my expectations as a crisp white with nice acidity but which also retained the roundness of Chard I was hoping for (think Chablis vs syrupy, flabby CA chard), and I enjoyed a second glass. Tom ordered the Belgian tripel beer, La Chouffe (the gnome in française), which he always enjoys. It’s got a great head and a nuttiness that not all tripels can boast.
For our appetizer, we ordered the spinach, caramelized onion and gruyere quiche which was delicious. Light crust, lightly crisped, julienned shallots on top, the quiche was hearty but not dense, and we both enjoyed it.
We decided to split two entrees: the pan-sauteed Cobia with wheat berries, sunchokes, and pea cream, and the maltagliati pasta with swiss chard, pine nuts, lemon, roasted tomato and goat cheese. The pasta was insanely good; it seemed that it must have been homemade, and I wondered if it was whole wheat. The dish was rustic in the best sense- kind of tossed together in a beautiful yet simple way with each flavor shining through. I enjoyed the fish dish as well but felt the fish was overcooked which was a shame for such a lovely, steaky piece of Cobia. We skipped dessert.
I’d return to Ris but not in a flash.
I am glad yesterday was so great overall, because last night was not. Tom couldn’t sleep much, Oliver woke up at 3:45, and I rocked him (read: held him in a death grip in his rocker while he pleaded to read a story, go downstairs, go outside, play, etc) until he finally relented and asked to go back to bed at 5:40a. I then crawled into Jack’s bed (he was sleeping in the basement to avoid Oliver waking him up) because Tom had finally fallen asleep and was snoring to beat sixty. Needless to say, neither I nor Tom are well-rested today, Jack is in good shape, Oliver remains funked out.
But!!!! the sun is shining and it’s a beautiful day.