1515 Rhode Island Avenue NW
Washington DC 20005
I have to take full responsibility for our experience at this restaurant; I should have consulted Zagat before making the reservation.
That said, let the review commence:
15 ria is located inside a Doubletree hotel, and is just three blocks from Dupont Circle. I was excited by the decor-- a mix of trendy simplicity and vintage chic. The dim lights, crackling fireplace, and low music were appealing and lent a fabulous, comfortable atmosphere to the place. The presence of khaki-shorts-and-hawaiian-shirt clad tourists (many of whom were loudly recounting their day via cell phone) interrupted the ambiance and reminded me that 15 ria is a hotel restaurant. The service was decent, but not good enough to make up for the food.
J and I each paid $35 for our three course meals, as per Restaurant Week prices.
The bread which came with our waters was a bit on the stale side, and a little too "eclectic" for his taste. I was intrigued (but not particularly impressed) by the trio of sweet butter, hummus and olives which came with the bread.
For the first course, I had the Roasted Parsnip Bisque-- thick and hearty, sweet and simple. It was great-- but I found myself peering around my bowl in search of the promised Shiitake Crisps and Frizzled Prosciutto (our server feigned ignorance over the matter). J had the Beef Short Ribs, which were succulent, tender and falling off the bone. In a word: delicious. I found myself snitching bites of his truffled mashed potatoes throughout the first course.
For the second course, I ordered the Seared Scallops-- I'd had my eye on them for weeks after checking out the menu. The four they served were unevenly cooked; one was quite burnt on top, another still white. They had the "fishy" smell and taste that I've come to associate with fish just past its prime, and each scallop was gritty. The black forbidden rice with carrot sauce was easily the best part of the dish, though it wasn't meant to be. J ordered the Cocoa-Chili Dusted NY Strip Steak. As with my entree, the tasty "sides" overshadowed the main event: his Brussels Sprouts were sweet and mashed potatoes creamy. (I raised an eyebrow when I saw that the two beef dishes on the same menu came with mashers.) As for his steak, which was cooked to medium rare...well- the texture was similar to that of my boat shoes. Gristly, tough and unpleasant.
By the time our desserts came out, we were both frustrated and ready to leave. My Caramel Cheesecake was good, albeit lackluster. Again, I found myself searching for the promised "extra" - this time, Pecan Brittle. J's Chocolate Hazelnut Truffle Torte tasted fine but was a bit grainy, and didn't make up for our unimpressive main courses.
As J put it after we left: the appetizers were delicious, and the desserts decent, but 1.5 out of 4 is still failing. We won't be going back!