A few weeks ago, Rachel and I made our very first visit to DC’s Union Market. We came with one goal in mind: to have lunch at Rappahannock Oyster Bar. After hearing so much praise from friends and media alike, we were curious what all the buzz was about.
Rappahannock Oyster Bar has perhaps one of the largest vendor spaces in Union Market, complete with a separate dining area in addition to the bar that wraps around the kitchen, which is where we sat. From there, we had a great view of one of the chefs shucking oysters.
Speaking of which, we ordered half a dozen oysters which included Rappahannock, Stingray, and Olde Salts. They were arranged, in that order, from sweet to briny and were accompanied with mignonette and cocktail sauce with fresh horseradish. Of course, the oysters were incredibly fresh, but they were just a precursor of what was to come.
And that brings us to the crab cake. I tend to typically stray from hyperbole, but the crab cake served at Rappahannock is perhaps the best in the District. I’m not kidding, this dish was perfect. The kitchen only uses lump and backfin meat, no filler. Served atop a bed of celeriac, the crab cake, which is ever so slightly crisp on the outside, is nearly the size of a softball. Topped with a dab of remoulade, the crabmeat was supremely fresh and just as juicy, a real treat. What’s more amazing was that it only cost $14. A pair of these would easily run over $30 at a restaurant, which makes this one incredible value.
Realizing that one crab cake was not enough food to split amongst the two of us, we decided to also order the seared scallops. Once again, Rappahannock tremendously impressed us with this dish. The plate arrived with four large, excellently-cooked scallops that were beautifully arranged with roasted cauliflower and sitting on a bed of chutney. Just like the crab cake, it only cost $14, which is nearly incomprehensible given the size of the scallops as well as the fantastic preparation.
Rappahannock Oyster Bar is a welcome addition not only to the District, but to the already wonderful Union Market. And while it’s not the most convenient location, it’s worth the visit just for that amazing crab cake.