Steamed oysters with pimento butter (Photo by Ash Daniel)
Along Grace Street’s new “Restaurant Row,” where vintage and nouveau play patty-cake with downtown Richmond diners, you will find a pass-through connecting Rapp Session to the wildly successful Rappahannock. The latter is pedigreed like a Boston banker; the former is the laid-back cousin visiting from a coastal town.
Rapp is beautiful in its simplicity — exposed brick, wooden tables, dimly lit mason jars and Windsor chairs. Seat yourself in this space that acts as sundry, raw bar and saloon with servers who project an easygoing vibe. They travel throughout the narrow space with cocktails such as Temper Filled With Blindness or Castle and Crown, mixed with the precision of an apothecary. They also carry steaming bowls that brim with oysters and mussels.
Executive Chef Dylan Fultineer focuses on show-stopping chilled seafood towers of shrimp, clams, mussels, oysters, snow crab legs and, by request, caviar. Specials such as jerk crab cakes or frog legs, and an on-menu oyster roll — a good idea stuffed in the wrong bun — leave you to expect the unexpected. Steamed Carolina shrimp are meaty prawns sautéed with chopped onions and celery, not your Chesapeake Bay and Gulf Coast styles slathered in thick seasoning pastes. Steamed mussels also are nuanced with a rich Morcilla-and-sherry broth that is full of texture from the blood sausage and Sub Rosa bread. Chilled fingerling potatoes with Calabrian aïoli are highlights on a menu that makes feeding yourself to the gills a delight in this culinary enclave.
3.5 out of 4 forks
318 E. Grace St., 545-0565
Hours: Monday through Friday: 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. (bar/dinner service from 3 p.m. to close); Saturday and Sunday: 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. (brunch 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; bar/dinner from 3 p.m. to close).
Prices: $2 to $105