You can't see Rise No. 1 from the street. Books about European hotels and Parisian food are stacked on a dainty coffee table in a lounge by the door, with tiny tea candles and a vintage magnifying glass on top. The tables for two are so small, we couldn't move our hands without bumping a wine glass or our tiny baguette or our appetizer soup.
For a lazy two hours of constant courses and a flight of Cab, these touches eased us into a world we're both smitten with and scared to death of: the universe of soufflé, the crown of no-imitations French cuisine.
As far as the owners knew when Rise No. 1 opened last year, the 92-seat café is one of only two salons de soufflé in the U.S. The dish's construction is a painstaking art, dependent upon expert timing and delicate preparation: a mix of a creamy base and egg whites beaten to the perfect meringue fluff is baked in a ramekin with savory or sweet ingredients, causing a mountainous, airy muffin of custard and egg to rise, a showing that lasts only a few minutes before collapsing to the rim of the cup. The term soufflé is the past participle of the French verb souffler, "to blow up;" the choice of tense shows how quickly the experience passes.
After savoring a cup of Marshmallow Soup -- cleverly named for the tiny goat cheese soufflés floating in the creamy tomato broth and topped with pesto sauce -- we were confronted quickly with a Truffle-Infused Mushroom soufflé, served with a spoon to settle our questions about how to properly eat it.
Thoughts: How filling such a light texture can be!This tastes kind of like delicious mashed potatoes.Dessert is. No. Longer. Possible.
Our date voiced the latter thought after his nightly-special crab soufflé. We were able to put away some of the Salad Nicoise with sesame seared ahi tuna -- a delight, for us; the fish was a little rare for our company.
Our check, with a generous tip, was less than $100. We decided to return expressly for dessert, which seems a more natural purpose for the decadent soufflé vehicle.
There's so much more to be said of the recycled doors, the heirloom, hand-stitched french linen serviettes, communal sink outside adorable country-French bathrooms and Rise No. 1 signature recycled glass bread plates for sale. You won't believe this place has existed for more than a year, nestled in Inwood Village like an oasis of charm and (heavy) discovery.
Rise No. 1
5360 West Lovers Lane, Suite 220