Rappahannock Oyster Co., the group of restaurants and oyster farms owned by cousins Ryan and Travis Croxton in Virginia and Washington, D.C., announced its latest venture: Rapp Session, opening February 18. The restaurant-meets-market concept is first and foremost a revival of the traditional “oyster saloon,” where raw and cured food and cocktails take center stage. Upon entering, guests are greeted with a market-style space allowing “pantry access” to fresh seafood, meats, sauces, and other products from the restaurant’s purveyors, all available for purchase at accessible prices. Rapp Session is located adjacent to Rappahannock Restaurant, a 2014 Esquire Best New Restaurant.
“Building on the success of Rappahannock Restaurant, it has been our vision to create a spot where people can stop by for a drink before dinner, a snack while out on the town late at night, or the freshest ingredients to cook in their own kitchens,” shares co-owner Travis Croxton. “It’s a nice companion to the restaurant, but a completely different experience.”
Rapp Session’s food focus is that of a true oyster bar with 10 to 12 worldly varieties, along with clams, mussels, peel and eat shrimp, crab, and more. The menu by Chef Dylan Fultineer, who also leads the kitchen at Rappahannock Restaurant, brings out the best in both oysters and seasonal ingredients while putting a light, “sessionable” twist on the dishes at Rapp Session. Highlights from the kitchen include an Oyster Roll on Brioche Bun with Slaw and Green Chile; Steamed Mussels with Mozzarella and Sherry Broth; Smoked Bluefish Dip with Sub Rosa Bread and daily Ceviche and Charcuterie selections, priced between $5 and $15, plus snacks such as Soft Egg and Bottarga and Fingerling Potatoes with Calabria Aioli, in the $2 to $5 range.
The locally sourced bar program is headed by bartender Dave Thomas, who is creating Virginia-strong cocktails such as the Cowgirl in the Sand, with Cirrus Vodka, Fernet, and the kick of lime, cinnamon, and chocolate mole bitters; the Spaghetti Western, which combines the mellow Bowman Brothers Bourbon with the herbal notes of Ramazzotti amaro and Strega; and The Leesider, featuring Commonwealth Gin from James River Distillery, with sloe gin, Tullamore Dew, Dolin Rouge, Benedictine, and orange zest twist.
For those seeking to bring the experience of Rappahannock Restaurant and Rapp Session into their homes, the market within Rapp Session offers the best products from local farms and the freshest seafood from nearby sources that are used in the restaurant, as well as Virginia wine, craft beer, fresh sandwiches, and Rappahannock sauces. “We are opening up our whole pantry, allowing guests to cook with the very seafood and ingredients that Rappahannock and Rapp Session uses," says co-owner Ryan Croxton. "We are ordering in bulk and consistently using the products ourselves at the restaurants. This is the freshest and most cost-effective way for the community to purchase.” Also offered within the market is a full Counter Culture-stocked coffee bar with pastries for the morning.
The 1,500-square-foot space mimics the feel of the Croxton’s grandfather’s country store and displays his old meat scales. The bar seats 32 with an eight-seat communal table and long standing-rail.