Photo courtesy: Rapp Session
[2/18 Update: Rapp Session opened this morning at 7 a.m. Stop by for oysters, a full coffee bar, a full cocktail bar, rosé on tap and more.]
In just a few short weeks, the Rappahannock Oyster Co. family will welcome a new, laid-back little brother: Part market, part oyster bar, Rapp Session is first and foremost a cocktail bar, but it’s got a maddeningly enticing list of perks including raw, steamed and roasted oysters (amongst other snacks), a full coffee bar and a slew of fresh seafood to grab for the next night’s dinner. Born of a need to serve overflow from Rappahannock’s bar, Rapp Session – set to open the second week of February – sits at 318 E. Grace St., a more casual space attached to its big brother, with inside access so you can move easily between the two. But the Croxton brothers behind the growing oyster and restaurant enterprise couldn’t stop there, of course. When they see a diamond in the rough, they polish it.
“Rapp Session will be dedicated to cocktails and beer," says co-owner Ryan Croxton. "Since Rappahannock’s more about the food being very local and the drinks being worldly complements to the food, this will allow for a more locally focused bar program. Food-wise, we’ll open up the reins a bit for Rapp Session and offer some things from outside the region, and we’ll do a bit of ‘Virginia versus…’ – pitting Virginia oysters against some from Maine, the West Coast, Australia. It’ll be more of a true oyster bar." Expect six to eight worldly varieties, with oyster prices comparable to Rappahannock's, though the more exotic and unique offerings may run a bit higher. "Rappahannock gets attention for being an oyster bar, but it’s really not," he adds. "It’s chef Dylan [Fultineer]’s restaurant and an expression of him.”
Fultineer will also control the food at Rapp Session, and dish out simple but beautiful small plates of charcuterie, ceviches, carpaccios and other mostly cold delicacies, priced between $5 and $15, plus snacks in the $2 to $5 range. If you haven’t stuffed yourself silly with crab, shrimp, scallops and the like — or even if you have — you can pick up hyper-fresh seafood to cook at home. “We’ll open up our whole pantry, anything you’d want," Croxton says. "Anything we order for our kitchen will be available and very affordable.” And while you wait for your order to be packed up, you can grab an espresso from the full Counter Culture-stocked coffee bar. In fact, you can find that coffee, plus pastries, as early as 7 a.m.; come 3 p.m., the space will focus on cocktails, beer and "sessionable" bites.
Manning the Virginia-strong cocktails, beers and wines will be Dave Thomas, formerly of Greenleaf’s Pool Room, and you’ll be able to enjoy those inside or out: Rapp Session will expand to the sidewalk when the weather agrees. The interior, a cozy, wood-floored refuge seating 36 (including the bar, this figure jumps to 52), mimics the look and feel of the Croxtons’ grandfather’s country store. They’re even putting his old meat scales on display.
“It’s a nice companion to the restaurant, but it feels like a completely different space,” says Ryan Croxton. So come the second week of February, grab a nice companion of your own and try to get a seat.
Rapp Session is located at 318 E. Grace St. and is set to open during the second week of February, with hours of 7 a.m. to 2 a.m., daily.