Jessica Tupper and I arrived promptly at 11:00am for opening and were happily greeted by a relaxed environment and funky décor. The space is sleek, dominated by a custom blond wood kitchen counter and pop art paintings by Justin Kane Elder of Albert Einstein and Randy Savage. During the day, the space fills with natural light and lends well to the open kitchen. The chefs are fully visible while they work, which gives an opportunity to socialize with patrons. Regardless how busy or slow things were, they kept a steady and efficient pace. They never seemed stressed or rushed, yet not once did we find ourselves waiting too long for anything. Compliments to the staff for that kind of hospitality.
The menu itself is modestly priced and broken into sections: pancakes, dumplings and noodles. It’s not the fanciest or largest of selections, but all of it will make your mouth water.Revel provides a variety of beverage choices—including house-made sodas. The raspberry kumquat was refreshing and tart-a flavor combination that we see popping up on menus more often lately.
We began with a garlic shrimp, white bean and chermoula pancake ($10). (If you’re not familiar with chermoula, it’s an amazing north African marinade/sauce, with cumin, chili, and a ton of spice for heat and savory notes.) It’s a small plate-sized pancake, cut roughly into quarters, with shrimp popping out appetizingly. It was crisp and full of flavor, the garlic complimenting the shrimp perfectly while the white bean helped temper the spice of the chermoula. The only challenge you may find with this dish is figuring out how to get that delicious taste from your plate to your mouth. One of us attempted (and failed) to be delicate and chop off pieces with a spoon while the other managed to pick up a whole quarter at once with chopsticks… because she’s a ninja.
After our appetizer, we ordered the short rib dumplings ($9) which consisted of five gloriously fat dumplings, steamed and pan fried, topped with a loose pile of thinly sliced scallions that had been tossed in a rice wine vinaigrette. These were fantastically tender and juicy-well worth the impending mess that resulted.
We rounded off the dinner portion with a steaming hot duck noodle bowl ($15), topped with vinegared raisins and cracklings sprinkled over small cutlets of roasted duck. The sweetness of the lapsang souchong tea in the broth and noodles worked wonders with the fatty duck, and the raisins were bright, intense pops in a mellow, rich broth.
For dessert, my pineapple rice pudding ($7) was an adorable delight. It looked like a small portion, with two dainty slices of dried pineapple sprinkled with chili garnish and lime zest on top, but it’s enough for two, or a generous dessert for one. The intense pineapple peppercorn jam added zing to the mellow, rich vanilla rice pudding. We agreed that they really need to sell that jam—or at least jars of the dessert to go. Amazingly delicious. We’d certainly buy ‘em.
Not only was the food at Revel delicious, but within forty-five minutes of opening, the entire place was packed. People were huddled together, sharing courses and laughing over wine. The environment is communal and would frankly be perfect for a second or third date, but make sure you get there early because not only is Revel growing in popularity – and they don’t take reservations for parties less than six.
Learn more about Revel
Photographs by Jessica Tupper.