RIA’s Newest Gem: The Red Hen

20130508-212310.jpg“When pigs fly.” That was a response when I told someone that good restaurants will make their way to RIA, either on the NE side or nearby. Sure, RIA has Boundary Stone, Rustik, and one or two other places, and they are all great and good food, but I wouldn’t put them down as the sit-down restaurant category that requires a reservation kind of place that my friend said would never come to the Avenue.

Well…I happened to venture into the Red Hen at 1st Street NW and Seaton Place this evening for dinner with friends. What we discovered was a gem yet to be discovered.

The dining room and central bar area was rustic and comfortable and the staff was very courteous (I’ll admit, they were after they finally allowed us to sit down even though the other two people were not there yet). Our dinner guests were no strangers to RIA and Brookland: a Friends of RIA board member, organizer of the famous Ward Five Happy Hours, and the Proprietor of Brookland’s finest speakeasy. We each ordered beers from their short yet really great selection of domestic and import beers (don’t event think about finding a Bud Light on this menu).

We ordered four appetizers to share. The favorite among us all was the ricotta crostini. I really enjoyed the salted cod dip with crostini, but my other fish-hating brethren didn’t (their loss). The owner brought over a special gift to help welcome us to the new restaurant: a tasting of a special microbrew… he knew how to make our table happy!

The dinners were a step towards fantastic. From the lamb sandwich to the rigatoni with ragu to the grilled hen, we were all satisfied and happy.

We ended the evening with one dessert. The chef brought out an aged Parmesan di mozzarella Di bufala and doused it with a 25 year old balsamic vinegar. One word: amazing. We also enjoyed some great scotch and bourbon (as an avid scotch drinker, I was also impressed with their selection).

The bill was well worth the food and atmosphere. It was great seeing friends there eating and imbibing, which made it feel like a neighborly place. If you haven’t been yet, check out the Red Hen before the rest of the DC Foodie nation does and you can’t get a reservation. Oh, and to my friend that thought no good restaurants would come until pigs fly, here’s what I found in the Red Hen. Your turn.

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