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First Look: Ripple

This new Cleveland Park wine bar is a departure from others of its kind in Washington.

Roger Marmet chose a playful aesthetic for his wine bar: Mosaic tiles, red-zebra print, and floral prints accent the front bar room. Photograph by Yassine El Mansouri.

Although Roger Marmet had no restaurant experience before opening Ripple in DC’s Cleveland Park, he did have a blueprint drawn from the recent crop of local wine bars. The former head of the cable channel TLC drew up a plan with a checklist: farms named on the menu, house-made charcuterie, and an eco-conscious wine list. But in some ways, Ripple departs from the wine-bar formula.

Marmet eschews the bare-lightbulb look for a more playful feel. The front room’s 40-foot bar is a colorful mosaic of tile, and the booths in the back dining room are a patchwork of floral fabrics.

Most notable is the absence of small plates. Many dishes are sized like scaled-down entrées, and everything is less than $20. Executive chef Teddy Diggs—most recently of Blue Ridge and a former saucier at Maestro—makes a lot in-house, right down to ketchup and whole-grain mustard. His dishes can be busy, but when they come together—glazed pork belly with albacore tuna and a quail egg; sweetbreads with mushrooms, kale, and milk “jam”; duck breast with peaches and fennel—they can be very good. He sometimes trips over too many ingredients: A simple tomato panzanella (bread salad) was overdone with radishes, purslane, and a salty anchovy vinaigrette.

Consulting pastry chef David Guas, whose sweets have been found at Acadiana, PassionFish, and DC Coast, is behind such feel-good desserts as buttermilk doughnuts with blueberry compote and baked-to-order cookies with milk. In other words, endings that feel familiar—in a good way.

3417 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-244-7995. Open daily for dinner. Starters and snacks $3 to $8, entrées $14 to $19.

This article appears in the September 2010 issue of The Washingtonian. 

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