Rich Sweeney (aka “Spanky” to friends) has a wonderful sense of humor that can be found playfully twisted through the tasty menu at his popular eatery. The chef-owner enjoys simple flavors of good food cooked well, and expands that premise by preparing uncomplicated dishes with unique combinations packed with bold flavors and FUN. Lest you forget, large red letters prominently located on the north side of R Gang Eatery’s comfortable patio will remind you.
The Hillcrest resident, a transplant from New York, loves the convenience of working in the ’hood. (He and boyfriend Steve live near the DMV.) With R Gang’s 2010 opening at 3683 Fifth Avenue, the celebrated culinarian created a buzz in the local restaurant scene with his cozy, laid back atmosphere where diners sip stellar signature cocktails and enjoy delicious, innovative eats. Think gourmet, minus the attitude, like the smoky Gouda mac ‘n’ cheese! A starter found on many tables are Rich’s homemade tater tots flavored with cheddar & chives; lobster & mascarpone; or mushroom, garlic and fontina fried in duck fat. Another unique appetizer is the savory monkey bread with cheeses and rotating ingredients baked inside. OK, this updated retro-Americana dining can be tough on the waistline.
Sweeney’s innovations continue with Cajun frosted flake-crusted barramundi, spicy jumbo shrimp with cheesy grits or ground lamb in a cabernet mushroom gravy. Desserts are unique, too, like the s’mores du jour, which some may consider ballsy considering it was a similar treat that got Rich eliminated from reality show Top Chef’s fifth season. Sweeney explained, “I’m having a little fun at my own expense, but I changed it up, and the s’more casserole is quite popular.”
The cuddly chef’s vision of “food & fun, refueled” is complemented perfectly with his friendly and helpful staff. Come for the food. Stay for the fun! Although his time as a Top Chef contestant may have been short lived, Sweeney’s eatery has become an instant favorite among Hillcrest locals. Stop by this fun neighborhood hangout soon with your gang!
R Gang Eatery is located at 3683 Fifth Avenue in a great old house just south of Pennsylvania in the fabulous neighborhood of Hillcrest.