While areas east of 14th Street NW, buttressed by the flourishing Union Market, has seen more than its fair share of new restaurants, Dupont Circle has remained pretty much the same. Most of the hottest restaurateurs have chosen to open new spots in the aforementioned grid, but thankfully TICO's owner/chef Michael Schlow has confidently ventured into Dupont.
The Riggsby (731 New Hampshire Ave. NW), located inside the newly renovated Kimpton hotel The Carlyle in Dupont Circle by Riggs Street, attempts to harken to the days of Prohibition in a limited -- "intimate" -- space, with 75 seats in the main restaurant and another 45 in the bar and lounge.
Art deco interiors would be interesting except the tiny tabletops makes for difficult elbow space and simply detracts from the pleasure of lingering over the meal.
Despite the sold-out tabletops on a recent weekday night, service was impeccable and the appetizers we ordered arrived promptly. Forget the jalepeños tater tots, which despite their popularity was missing a tasty heat and crunch that should be associated with its two main ingredients (i.e., jalepeños and tater tots).
Additionally, the too-cute by half miniature portions -- akin to a Tootsie roll -- were unimaginative. For those who have eaten at TICO, you know that Schlow's dishes there carry a vibrant imagery. But the jalepeños tater tots were missing the creative element one comes to expect from him.
Instead, focus on the delightful Jimmy's Special "Chopped" House Salad. Here Chef Schlow's creativity shines with the combination of flavorful elements (clearly farm-to-table) and the slightly spicy salad dressing provides the ideal kick to this veggie-centric dish.
While waiting for the main course to arrive, skip the mostly bland Riggsby Libations, which veered from either too much alcohol or too little alcohol, and focus on ordering just the Mule on My Mind. In this, the combination of vodka, creme de peche, falernum and ginger beer came together to create a refreshing drink which had just the right hint of alcohol, cleansing the palate for the schnitzel.
For the main course, schnitzel "a la holstein," a German favorite, came alive in Schlow's kitchen, with the capers cutting sharply with the zucchini and artichoke to harmoniously add zing to the dish.
This is the go-to supper dish, and when the amazingly soothing Riggsby ice cream sundae arrives to close out your evening, you will be thankful to have ventured into Dupont Circle for your meal.