Food & Drink

Review: Rize + Rest Takes Diners From Dawn to Dusk

During daylight hours, the Patterson Park restaurant is more of a grab-and-go spot for biscuit sandwiches and lattes. By nightfall, aka “Rest”-time, dinner service begins.
Truffle lobster spaghetti, broccoli Caesar, seared scallops. —Photography by Scott Suchman

As you enter Rize + Rest, the first thing you’ll notice is the sticker plastered on the front door, “Never sacrifice deliciousness.”

That pledge is more than some empty aphorism—it’s the menu mission at Randall Matthews’ adorable 25-seat Patterson Park cafe, where the name of the restaurant is also the concept.

During daylight hours, the restaurant is more of a grab-and-go spot for ordering breakfast biscuit sandwiches and lattes. By nightfall, aka “Rest”-time, the spot starts dinner service. Rize + Rest was originally conceived as a coffee shop, but the chef decided he wanted to offer “two different vibes in the same building,” he says.

The space is bright and airy, with an inviting bar and floating shelves filled with greenery. With its warm wood touches, it gives off California-chic vibes, which is not surprising given that Matthews spent part of his career there.

The 34-year-old Prince George’s County native has enjoyed a rapid rise since he took a culinary course in community college and fell in love with cooking.

After attending school at the Culinary Institute of America, he quickly ascended to corporate director for celebrity restaurateur Michael Mina, then moved on to executive chef positions at dining darlings St. Anselm in D.C. and Ada’s on the River in Alexandria. All of which was just the preamble to his landing in Baltimore City, a place he first fell in love with while working at the now-closed Wit & Wisdom.

“I figure I’ve opened 26 restaurants as chef at this point,” says Matthews. “It was time for me to do something on my own.”

Happily, he chose Charm City for his first solo venture. While the service still needs work and the prices are on the high side for the neighborhood, the food is terrific. The menu highlights comfort fare with luxury ingredients. The goal, says Matthews, is “not to muddle the star of the plate but enhance it.”

Indeed, every element on the plate has a purpose and the chef takes familiar classics and makes them new again. The roasted broccoli Caesar is tossed with a lovely anchovy vinaigrette and showered with Parmesan and garlic-butter breadcrumbs that add a crunchy component. Tomato “raisins”—peeled grape tomatoes tossed in sugar, salt, garlic, thyme, and red vinegar—cleanse the palate.

The black truffle lobster spaghetti is equally clever, with its cream-based saffron sauce balanced by orange juice and orange zest, then spiked with red pepper chile flakes and a hit of truffle butter.

Another revelation was a dish of seared scallops sitting on a bed of nutty brown-butter cauliflower purée. Each scallop was topped with “bacon jam,” adding a salty smokiness that partnered perfectly with the sweetness of the shellfish—it was, as the front door denotes, delicious.

“When I was opening a restaurant in Dubai for Michael Mina, I was instructing a Korean cook on how to make a recipe,” says Matthews. “And it dawned on me that no matter where in the world you are, the science of cooking is the same—the end goal should be deliciousness.”

Mission accomplished


RIZE + REST: 3100 East Baltimore St., 443-835-4713. HOURS: Tues.-Fri. 8 a.m.-3 p.m., 5 p.m.-10 p.m.; Sat.-Sun. Brunch: 10 a.m.-3 p.m., 5 p.m.-10 p.m. PRICES: Breakfast and lunch: $5-20; Dinner: appetizers: $9-22; pasta and entrees: $14-39.