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By Phyllis C. Richman
Washington Post Restaurant Critic
From The Washington Post Dining Guide, November 1996

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| 1017 7th St. NW
(202) 783-0699

Hours of Operation and Prices
Lunch: Th only 11:30-2:30; Entrees: $16-$30
Dinner: T-Th 6-10, F-Sat 6-1l; Entrees: $16-$30
Closed: Sun-M

Other Information
• Credit Cards: All major
• Reservations: Recommended
• Dress: Casual
• Parking: Street
• Nearest Metro: Mount Vernon-UDC, Gallery Place-Chinatown
• Handicapped accessible

The first white tablecloths on Seventh Street? An entry hall full of flowers, just across the street from a soup kitchen and a parking lot? Who thought you could find a $50 dinner on this forlorn strip of downtown? Times are changing, and Rupperts is helping them do it.

Here's what serious young American chefs are accomplishing: They're tracking down the first pearly, soft-shell crabs and wild ramps of spring, the figs and wild mushrooms of fall. They're inventing combinations never before considered, and the good chefs, like Rupperts', are combining them with logic as well as style. Apples and parsnips in a soup - tree and earth, sweet-tart and a pleasantly bitter resonance. Shad roe and grits - the South revisited, graininess of fish eggs and of ground corn. This food is not about sauces. It's about vegetables dominating and extolling the meat and the fish: shredded parsnip mysterious and delicious with tiny lettuces and idyllic asparagus, all a bed for grilled red snapper. Grilled sweetbreads and mashed potatoes (with oil - no butter or cream is used here) mingle with turnip greens and a surprise of puckery grilled rhubarb. With all this, three kinds of crusty, just-baked bread. And afterward, the absolute in vanilla ice creams, served on a cornmeal waffle with warm seasonal fruit, such as tart rhubarb puree. A dessert to make you count the days until spring.

Rupperts is full of surprises, the least happy being the uptown prices for simple cooking in a marginal downtown location. It's surprising, too, to find the waiters in jeans-and-shirtsleeves casualness, given the starched environment. There are precious touches: an hors d'oeuvre served in the bowl of a spoon, after-dinner cookies no bigger than a sequin. Still, the basics are top quality, right down to the Quartermaine's coffee and made-from-scratch cocoa. More than anything else, Rupperts is a fashion show for seasonal produce.

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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