First Look: Blue Ridge
It's cool. But is it good?
Reviewed By Todd Kliman, Ann Limpert, Kate Nerenberg, Rina Rapuano
Comments () | Published September 24, 2009
Blue Ridge (Closed)
Address: 2340 Wisconsin Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20007
Phone: 202-333-4004
Neighborhood: Glover Park, Georgetown
Cuisines: An example of a traditional Southern meal is deep fried chicken, field peas, turnip greens, cornbread, sweet tea and a dessert that could be a pie (sweet potato, pecan and peach are traditional southern pies), or a cobbler (peach, blackberry or mixed berry are traditional cobblers)., Modern, American
Opening Hours: Open for dinner Sunday and Monday 5:30 to 9:30; Tuesday through Thursday 5:30 to 10; Friday and Saturday 5:30 to 10:30. Open for brunch Saturday and Sunday 11 AM to 2:30 PM.
Price Range: Moderate
Dress: Informal
Noise Level: Chatty
Reservations: Recommended
Best Dishes Ribeye; root-beer float.
Price Details: Starters, $5 to $15; main courses, $11 to $21.
The serene patio at Blue Ridge, in DC’s Glover Park, aims to soothe nerves. But the fashionably unfashionable cooking falls short of transporting. Photograph by Chris Leaman.

The most interesting thing about the menu at Blue Ridge, in DC’s Glover Park, is the restaurant’s earnest mission statement: a promise of sustainable food, local ingredients, and eco-friendly energy practices. Sound familiar? It’s a popular formula among lots of Washington’s young eateries, including owners Jared Rager and Eli Hengst’s previous ventures, Sonoma in DC and Redwood in Bethesda.

Rager and Hengst sought to distinguish Blue Ridge from its peers by evoking the South with such touches as antique quilts on the walls and servers whose plaid shirts and blue jeans bespeak a homey unpretentiousness.

They also tapped Barton Seaver to man the stoves. The chef, who last year hung up his apron at Hook—reportedly for good—to become an advocate for sustainable fishing, gained a following at the splashy Georgetown restaurant, where his name was synonymous with sourcing only the most politically correct fish.

At Blue Ridge, the food is closer to the approachable simplicity of DC’s Café Saint-Ex—where Seaver started his campaign for sustainable fish and market-driven menus. The fried-green-tomato BLT that won Seaver fans at Saint-Ex is reprised here, though with a too-generous swath of pimiento cheese, and the bulk of the menu is devoted to sipping and grazing: small plates (called “snacks”), cheese platters, and charcuterie boards.

But what are such cold-weather items as root vegetables, butternut squash, and apple pie doing on a summer menu? The biggest disappointment is that Seaver’s flavors are timid: The redeye gravy that comes with fried eggs and a biscuit had no soulful punch, while an appetizer of fingerling-potato halves stuffed with the same pimiento cheese was bland.

The best dishes are the most straightforward: a well-seasoned rib eye with a simple herb butter, a creamy root-beer float.

Blue Ridge is strong on the issues. But so far at least, there’s more to admire than desire.

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Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 09/24/2009 RSS | Print | Permalink | Restaurant Reviews