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Rasika, with 2014 James Beard Award Winning Chef Vikram Sunderam, and Rasika West End, Modern Indian in Penn Quarter and West End

Local Chain Penn Quarter West End Modern Indian Vikram Sunderam James Beard Award Atul Narain Knightsbridge Restaurant Group

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#1 crackers

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Posted 19 September 2005 - 10:25 PM

This place has gotten a few mentions - most recently in this weekend's first edition of the Wall Street Journal's Weekend rag. Slated to open in November, it's supposed to bring Portuguese-influenced Indian food from the Goa region, as well as coconut and curry leaf dishes from Kerala and almond and pistachio infused cuisines from the Mogul region. 633 D St. NW. Any other buzz?


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#2 bbhasin

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Posted 20 September 2005 - 04:58 AM

What I thought from the mentions in the local media was that the place was to focus on Tawa Cooking ( which is a kind of griddle cooking, think of the monogilian grill) and ' Sigri' cooking ( which is grilling skewered meats, vegs etc on an open charcoal grill)
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#3 DonRocks

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Posted 23 November 2005 - 12:21 PM

From Rasika's press release:

Bajaj and Sommelier Sebastian Zutant crafted an International wine of 100 selections that pair well with the flavorful Indian dishes and bottle prices range between $30-$200, while the by-the-glass options are also well rounded featuring six reds and six whites that are priced from $7-$10.

 

Eh? Is there something I don't know about?


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#4 Waitman

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Posted 23 November 2005 - 12:40 PM

From Rasika's press release:"Bajaj and Sommelier Sebastian Zutant crafted an International wine of 100 selections that pair well with the flavorful Indian dishes and bottle prices range between $30-$200, while the by-the-glass options are also well rounded featuring six reds and six whites that are priced from $7-$10."

Eh?  Is there something I don't know about?

 

Saturday will be Sebastion's last night at Komi.


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#5 CrescentFresh

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Posted 23 November 2005 - 01:00 PM

Website? Menu? Did you find the press release online? Am looking for someplace new to go over the next few days.
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#6 DonRocks

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Posted 23 November 2005 - 01:13 PM

I don't make a habit of cutting-and-pasting press releases, but since Paul asked:

Renowned Washington Restaurateur Ashok Bajaj Opens Rasika,
Showcasing Authentic Indian Cuisine Served with Modern Flair

Washington, D.C., (November 23, 2005)-Penn Quarter is now home to Rasika, Ashok Bajaj's new sophisticated jewel, which seats 140 guests, located at 633 D Street, NW. The name Raiska is derived from Sanskrit meaning "flavors" and Chef Vikram Sunderam, who has relocated to DC after being at the award-winning Bombay Brasserie in London for 14 years, is preparing an innovative menu that delivers authentic Indian fare with a modern emphasis. Sunderam is a native of Bombay, India where he remained pursuing his culinary training and honing his skills before moving to England to join Bombay Brasserie.

Signature dishes guests should not miss at Rasika include the crispy spinach salad with date and tamarind sauce; black cod with fresh dill, star anise and fennel seeds cooked in a clay oven and the tawa Dover sole hand-rubbed with chile and prepared on the griddle. Warm apple jalebi with cardamom ice cream and chocolate soufflé cake with star anise are two of the tempting desserts ideal for completing the dining experience. Menu options range from $7-$24 and a $28 three-course per theater menu is also available.    
   
Bajaj and Sommelier Sebastian Zutant crafted an International wine of 100 selections that pair well with the flavorful Indian dishes and bottle prices range between $30-$200, while the by-the-glass options are also well rounded featuring six reds and six whites that are priced from $7-$10.  Rasika's temperature controlled cellar is visually an important component in the restaurant along with the open kitchen and wall of spices displayed behind the open tawa (griddle). Guests can be seated at the open kitchen to watch the preparation of the barbecue (sigri) and tawa. Raiska will also feature tandoori and regional dishes via small plates and full entrée portions.    
 
No stranger to the hospitality scene, Ashok Bajaj has five additional highly successful restaurants in the nation's capital including Bombay Club, 701, Oval Room, Ardeo and Bardeo. Rasika is Bajaj's newest conception and it promises to deliver outstanding service and authentic, modern Indian cuisine in Washington's most popular dining Mecca. The sexy atmosphere and stellar location are ideal for pre-theater dining and MCI related events, plus business luncheons and special
occasion dining as the restaurant has two private dining options.

Hours of Operation:

Lunch:  Monday - Friday 11:30 am - 2:30 pm
Dinner:  Monday - Thursday 5:30 pm - 10:30 pm
Friday & Saturday - 5:30 pm - 11:30 pm

Lounge Hours - Serving light meals throughout the day
Monday - Thursday - 11:30 am - 11:00 pm
Friday - 11:30 am - 12:00 am
Saturday - 5:30 pm - 12 am

Closed on Sundays

Open Thanksgiving, Easter, Mother's Day, Christmas Eve
Closed New Years Day, Christmas Day, Memorial Day, July 4th


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#7 Josh Radigan

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Posted 23 November 2005 - 01:30 PM

Good Luck to all involved,many success'.

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#8 Demvtr

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Posted 23 November 2005 - 01:41 PM

I plugged in a few variations before I came up with the web site (which is not yet fully fleshed out): http://www.rasikarestaurant.com/

#9 Spiral Stairs

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Posted 23 November 2005 - 02:02 PM

In today's chat, Tom S. said it is set to open on December 8th, which doesn't seem to be mentioned in the PR.
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#10 Nadya

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Posted 23 November 2005 - 04:09 PM

Sebastian leaving Komi??? Nooooooooo.

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#11 JLK

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Posted 09 December 2005 - 09:08 AM

Rasika is the subject of today's Daily Candy.

Jennifer


#12 asundstrom

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Posted 09 December 2005 - 11:56 PM

The last time I tasted Sunderam's green chicken masala, I was a student in London four years ago. The Bombay Brasserie staff ushered me and my friend out very quickly when I used the larger entree plates for the dessert buffet (as opposed to the tiny dessert plates they'd prefer you to use), but the chicken was so good I bore them no ill will. I've probably thought about that green chicken dish once a week since then.

It was every bit as good tonight at Rasika. Very dark, very complex flavors. The service was a bit spotty and rushed, but the space was beautiful and every dish was perfect. Amazing chaat, spinach with corn, piping hot, very fluffy naan, a whole trout cooked just until its flesh set in the tandoor (for just $16!), superb bread. I loved the walnut kulfi and the bread and butter pudding - definitely not run-of-the mill Indian desserts.

The place has the same feel as Indique, but it's a lot better. Reminded me of Tamarind in London. Definitely a step up from Bombay Brasserie for Sunderam.

#13 mongo

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Posted 10 December 2005 - 03:27 PM

The last time I tasted Sunderam's green chicken masala, I was a student in London four years ago.  The Bombay Brasserie staff ushered me and my friend out very quickly when I used the larger entree plates for the dessert buffet (as opposed to the tiny dessert plates they'd prefer you to use), but the chicken was so good I bore them no ill will.  I've probably thought about that green chicken dish once a week since then.

It was every bit as good tonight at Rasika.  Very dark, very complex flavors. The service was a bit spotty and rushed, but the space was beautiful and every dish was perfect.  Amazing chaat, spinach with corn, piping hot, very fluffy naan, a whole trout cooked just until its flesh set in the tandoor (for just $16!), superb bread.  I loved the walnut kulfi and the bread and butter pudding - definitely not run-of-the mill Indian desserts.

The place has the same feel as Indique, but it's a lot better.  Reminded me of Tamarind in London.  Definitely a step up from Bombay Brasserie for Sunderam.

why is their site's splash page so tacky?

the menu seems like a bizarre pastiche to me, but i suppose that's par for the course for so-called nouveau indian cooking. do the entrees come with anything? or do you have to order dal and veg separately if you want them?

#14 DonRocks

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Posted 15 December 2005 - 10:47 PM

Reminded me of Tamarind in London. 

:)

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#15 Waitman

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Posted 16 December 2005 - 10:10 AM

My thoughts after an initial dinner here.

"Don't go braggin' about how cool and clean your kitchen is. 'Caus if your kitchen's so cool and clean, ain't nothin' cookin'!"

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#16 Jacques Gastreaux

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Posted 16 December 2005 - 10:35 AM

My thoughts after an initial dinner here.

Charles:

Great write up. I see that you were attired in standard "press gallery" garb. Glad to see that Sebastian has not lost his touch. Is there a bar menu (read "potential DR.com happy hour venue")?
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#17 DonRocks

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Posted 16 December 2005 - 10:39 AM

Charles:

Great write up.  I see that you were attired in standard "press gallery" garb.  Glad to see that Sebastian has not lost his touch.  Is there a bar menu (read "potential DR.com happy hour venue")?

You don't need a bar menu; there are lots of small plates to choose from - and Sebastian is doing a good job here with wines by the glass.

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#18 Walrus

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Posted 16 December 2005 - 12:56 PM

I want, I want! Anyone fancy an outing?

#19 porcupine

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 01:50 PM

Went to Rasika for an early dinner before a play last night, and it was pretty good. The interior is gorgeous, with dark wood tables and earthy red, orange, and yellow paint on the walls. The bar and lounge area are spacious, but the curtain separating them from the dining area doesn't keep out smoke or noise. Even the tableware is stylish, but the cutlery is rather unfortunately unbalanced, so that it slips easily off plates and onto floors - even when the waiters and not klutzy me are handling those plates.

mango lassi: not on the menu, but Rasika has them. Very good, thick, only lightly sweet.

reshmi kabob: minced chicken on a stick. A competent rendition.

sev batata puri: six small crisps mounded with potato and two chutneys (tasted like the ubiquitous tamarind and, um, green). These were excellent, nice texture and mix of tastes, but rather sloppy to eat with a fork. I kept fighting the temptation to pick them up with my fingers and pop 'em in my mouth whole.
edit: Now that I can see the menu online, I think we may have been served the dahi batata puri instead

lamb dahiwala: very complex and subtly spiced, mild flavor with coriander foremost. Seemed plain at first but I found myself taking more and more tastes of the sauce, because it was intriguing.

paneer methi: cheese cubes with fenugreek leaves - very tasty but glad I only got a half-portion, as it was a rather unsatisfying dish despite its complexity. (Rasika gets major props for offering all the vegetable dishes in half-portions.)

palak makki: spinach with baby corn - delicious, complex, compelling, probably my favorite of the evening.

Dessert proved interesting. I asked the waiter if the carrot halwa had walnuts (I'm allergic), and when he (finally) returned after inquiring, he said that every dessert except the apple jalebi had walnuts. :) "Bad menu planning", I thought. While enjoying the apple jalebi, a manager asked how everything was, and I expressed mild displeasure that so many wonderful sounding sweets were inaccessilbe. Well, the waiter was wrong, although a majority of desserts have either walnuts or cashews in them. The manager, sorry that poor information kept me from ordering what I wanted, brought me the carrot halwa (over my protests, as I was stuffed silly by this point and besides it was a simple misunderstanding) free of charge, which was very kind of him.

apple jalebi: much better than I thought possible. The manager explained that the base is a traditional Indian dessert, deep-fried batter soaked in honey-rosewater-saffron syrup; the dish was updated by using the batter as a coating for apple rounds. This was served with a small scoop of cardamom ice cream. I could hardly taste the rosewater, and the saffron was detectable but not overwhelming.

carrot halwa: sweet carrots with golden raisins and cashews, served with cinnamon sabayon. A nice take on a traditional dessert, not as sweet as I've had elsewhere. The sabayon didn't really do much for it, though.

So far as I could tell, the kitchen seems to be on its game, but the service needs work. Though polite and attentive, the waitstaff were fussy, frequently rearranging flatware or glassware when it wasn't necessary. I know some people on this board like attentive service, but I prefer mostly to be left alone once my food's arrived. For me, the line between attentive and fussy is veeeery thin, but that's just my peeve; ymmv.

Would I go back? Yes. Definitely. Just be aware that this is not your hole-in-the-wall, traditional flavors, mama's-cooking-in-the-back ethnic restaurant.

PS the website really is awful. <oooh my head>

Edited by porcupine, 21 December 2005 - 05:24 PM.

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#20 oliveDC

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 05:54 PM

I had the same silverware issue. I started feeling like a moron after the 10th time my fork slid into my lap, slopping goo—albeit tasty goo—on my shirt. I finally figured out I needed to balance it in the upper righthand corner of the plate, leaning on the table.

Phew, eating out can be so stressful sometimes. :)
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#21 JLK

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 05:58 PM

I hate that. I'm clumsy already so I don't need silverware to make my condition look worse!

Has anyone tried that old favorite, chicken makhani, at Rasika?

Jennifer


#22 DonRocks

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 05:58 PM

the cutlery is rather unfortunately unbalanced, so that it slips easily off plates and onto floors - even when the waiters and not klutzy me are handling those plates.


I had the same silverware issue. I started feeling like a moron after the 10th time my fork slid into my lap, slopping goo—albeit tasty goo—on my shirt. I finally figured out I needed to balance it in the upper righthand corner of the plate, leaning on the table.

My fork took the plunge as well!

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#23 porcupine

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 06:06 PM

My fork took the plunge as well!

Sounds like we need a support group: "Hi, my name is Elizabeth and my cutlery keep sliding off my plate". The bummer of it is that it's such nice looking cutlery.

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#24 Waitman

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 06:16 PM

Sounds like we need a support group: "Hi, my name is Elizabeth and my cutlery keep sliding off my plate".  The bummer of it is that it's such nice looking cutlery.

It's not the cutlery, it's the stupid plates.

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#25 alisa7

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Posted 23 December 2005 - 09:12 AM

I had the most wonderful meal at Rasika last night. I started out with naan and roti and raita, while my friends tried the ginger scallops and the mango shrimp. All three appetizers were great. For my main course, I had the lamb dahiwala, which was tender and flavorful without being overpowering. Our dinner was paired with an amazing dry reisling, that balanced the spiciness of the food perfectly. Overall, a great new restaurant that is being run very smoothy considering it has been open for 12 days! My only complaint is that they charged $6 for 2 pieces of naan on top of the $6 small bowl of raita. Seems a little steep.

#26 JPW

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 08:18 AM

$6 small bowl of raita. Seems a little steep.

:)
More like highway robbery.

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#27 JLK

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 03:05 PM

For New Year's Eve, my boyfriend and I dined at Rasika which offered a four course tasting menu. The price was $65 per person which included a glass of champagne/sparkling wine (sorry, details are fuzzy at this point).

I walked in with low expectations and a semi-bad attitude because I had really wanted to go to Corduroy for NYE. Due to poor planning on our (and our friends') part and the very reasonable need to give Corduroy 48 hours notice for a special event cancelation, boyfriend and I were winging it come New Year's Eve morning. I was worried that between the potential for an "amateur night" experience and the newness of the restaurant, it could be a disaster.

The space is attractive as several of you noted. Due to a bit of holiday traffic, we did not have time for a pre-dinner drink at the bar. If we had asked, I suspect that the host would have OK'd it because the restaurant wasn't full to capacity (maybe 75%?). We didn't want to mess with them so we didn't ask.

After sitting at our table ungreeted for about ten minutes, we were finally asked for drink orders and made our selections from the set menu (available online). We opted for the wine pairings ($25) and were told that in addition to the first course of bhel puri, we'd be receiving a potato corn dumpling too. Both first courses were very tasty. I was surprised by how much I liked the puffed rice dish given that my previous experience was just "meh."

My second course was the safe chicken tikka while boyfriend had the excellent crispy spinach. Wow! How'd they do that? Frying? Freeze drying? Very cool. The chicken was good if unexciting. I chose it because the other thing that really appealed to me - minced lamb - would have canceled out my entree of interest, lamb shank. Decisions, decisions...

Plus one had the lobster moilee as an entree. I liked the coconut milk/curry/ginger sauce a lot, but the bites of lobster I tasted struck me as tough (boyfriend disagrees). My lamb shank was pretty awesome (although if the chef had wanted to up the spice level, I wouldn't have minded). Tender, not greasy, rich. Accompaniments were basmati rice (perfect, reminding me why I love rice) and naan (which was fine, but not special).

Our desserts - apple jalebi and chocolate souffle - were good, but we were stuffed by this point.

The service wasn't top-notch, but it wasn't malevolently "I am bitter at you customers because I'm working on NYE" so. Our servers (and we seemed to have about five) were pleasant and friendly, if not necessarily confident or steady. It definitely could have been worse.

Based on this experience and its location, conveniently near my office, I can see making a return visit soon.

Jennifer


#28 bilrus

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 11:02 PM

I was intrigued by the idea of Rasika, shooting for something more haute than the Indian we've been offered here before. But I was also a little worried. My initial impression was that its menu was going to be more fusion-y and I almost always feel that whatever cuisines are being "fused" end up being watered down and neither shines through. The bold flavors and the wide range of Indian cuisine is especially vulnerable to this bastardization.

But Rasika surprised me. Not the service - I figured that Sebastian would be able to put his stylish imprint on the whole service and he has succeeded qucikly and seems to be having fun with the new challenges of creating a wine list for a different type of cooking. And the room was predicatably attractive, with warm colors and wood sufaces, just like you've come to expect from a new place in the Penn Quarter area.

But last Friday, the food on both the vegetarian and non-vegetarian tasting menus wasn't the mismatch of French and Indian techniques and ingredients that I had expected. It was very distinctly Indian. Maybe a little more refined than you might expect, but not enough so to diminish the flavors that make me crave Indian food.

The Spinach Chaat showed a light hand with flash fried lacy baby spinach leaves and sweet and tangy yogurt and tamarind chutney. The lamb shank rogan josh was, per Sebastian's suggestion, a worthy successor to the suckling pig at Komi. A big portion of tender, slightly fatty lamb shank bathed in a deeply flavored garam masala sauce. Tawa fish was a little plain, but was still a piece of nice fish with a bit of fire, both from the tawa grill and the spices cating it. And the apple jalebi, a thick slice of apple, tempura fried and crisp despite its honey sauce coating was a last minute winner as my favorite dessert of 2005.

I've been a fan of Indique's mix of casual style and good cooking since it opened and the feel of authenticity and spice from Minerva's curries are a rus family carry-out favorite. And I'm still scared to go to Indebleu.

But I think Rasika is cooking some of the most interesting Indian I've had and it is a welcome addition.
Bill Russell

#29 CrescentFresh

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Posted 05 January 2006 - 10:30 PM

Crackers and I paid a quick visit as part of a happy hour excursion a couple weeks ago. Memory is slightly dim and I didn't get to write this up sooner. Here's what I recall. A couple glasses of wine accompanied by Palak Chaat and Lamb Galouti. The lamb came as two ground patties that were highly seasoned/spiced/flavorful/juicy, but I wouldn't call them highlights. The Palak Chaat was. Crispy friend spinach with a great variety of sweet/fruity/spiced flavor. As bilrus also noted his pleasure with it, I think this is an initial go-to dish for Rasika.

Sebastian was a gracious host, sharing stories of wine, food, decor and plans for the restaurant. GM Atul took us on a walk-through after we paid the bill. I was really impressed with the private room they have. It's small. I think accomodating only 15 people or so. The decor in there was great. For historic preservation reasons, apparently they're not permitted to make certain changes to the building. That would have left this private room looking kind of odd as it fronts the sidewalk of D Street with its own door and storefront windows. But they did a great job employing glass, mirrors and artwork. Without it, you could stand outside and stare in the windows at the diners much as one stares into an aquarium watching tropical fish eating shrimp pellets. It's like an art gallery now. Impressive.

I think I tend to agree with some of the other posters that the prices seem kinda high. I'll probably reserve judgement on that until after I make another visit or two. Which is definitely in the cards.
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#30 goldenticket

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 04:35 PM

Restaurant Week got off to a very pleasant start for me with lunch at Rasika today. To echo other posters, I have to say - What a beautiful space! Gorgeous colors, textures, lighting, etc.

After a last-minute cancellation by my planned lunch partner <grrrr>, I was able to round up a co-worker to join me. I started with the Tawa Fish (I think it was mahi-mahi) which was nicely grilled, or should I say griddled :) . Simple preparation as stated above, but cooked perfectly with light but spicy seasoning, and a very generous portion. My companion ordered Sev Puri, which she said was like Indian nachos (4 of them to be exact) and was also enjoyed.

As others above have done, I selected the Lamb Dahiwala. It was very good, and very generous - should have been 2 servings worth...<urp> but I just couldn't stop....(doh!) The chunks of lamb were tender and the sauce was a yogurt/curry combination that had a hint of spice. Fortunately there was plenty left dipping the lovely naan. +1 ordered the Tandoori Salmon which was a lighter option (size-wise) and also got good reviews from her. Pefectly cooked with not too much seasoning and little mixed salad on the side.

We both ordered the fresh watermelon juice, with a (mostly imperceptible) touch of black pepper. Very refreshing and reminiscent of breakfasts while on vacation in Mexico.

We both ended with Apple Jalebi (beignet) with cardamom ice cream - it was very nice and just as described by Porcupine above. Service was very good and efficient, a slight delay in being seated but nothing outrageous and it just gave us time to look over the menu and decide what we were having before we sat down.

All in all, a very good meal and a VERY good deal, in my opinion. I'm looking forward to going back for a non-RW meal sometime soon, with wine pairings by Sebastian!
[now, if I can just stay awake until it's time to go home... :o ]

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#31 Pat

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Posted 10 January 2006 - 09:21 AM

We had a very enjoyable meal at Rasika last night with some friends who are in from out of town. I had wondered how RW would be there since they opened not that long ago, but everything went beautifully. They really have a smooth operation running there. I loved the design of the space. The web version of the menu doesn't have the descriptions of the items, so I'm not sure I can reconstruct everything. The descriptions on the actual menu were quite helpful.

For appetizers, two of us had the potato patties, radga pattice, which were delicious. My husband had the bhel puri, which I had some of, and it was light and crisp. I think I'll try that next time we go there. I got a bite of the galouti kabob, which was an interesting preparation of lamb. For the main course, two of us got the mixed grill, which I was too full (the bread!) to finish. I got a bite of the lamb dahiwala, which was good, but I think I preferred the mixed grill. I didn't get to taste the black cod, but the person who ordered it really enjoyed it. I didn't think there was any way I was going to manage dessert, but since it was part of the meal, I gave it my best effort. I got the fig and walnut kulfi and it was so wonderful that I forgot how full I thought I was and polished it off straight away. The kulfi was creamy and delicious. My husband was not as happy with his bread and butter pudding but said that it was all right. There was also an order of the sorbet/ice cream at the table, and the last dessert was apple jalebi with cardamom ice cream, also proclaimed delicious and described as an unexpected and good mix of flavors.

There was a decent amount of variety on the menu. I had a dilemma for the first two courses over what to order because multiple things looked so appealing. I thought it was a good RW value. (Our friends had a couple of glasses of wine and we had beer.)

[Edit for typo and factual error, both in the same sentence :o :) .]

Edited by Pat, 10 January 2006 - 10:28 AM.


#32 Tujague

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Posted 12 January 2006 - 01:15 PM

My partner and I went to Rasika last night for Restaurant week, and our experience reflects that of Pat. The evening started a bit inauspiciously, as there was a bit of a wait for a table and we were virtually ignored in the bar area (when I finally did get to order the delicious ginger and gin, it made up for the underwhelming greeting). Once seated, Bob had the radga pattice, which he described as a sort of "deconstructed samosa," and indeed, it did have much of the texture of a (very good) samosa filling, with a subtle but not overpowering dose of heat. My serving of Tawa Fish consisted of two iPod-Nano-size fillets of red snapper (ok, maybe slightly larger; I just like the image), perfectly cooked and with an appealing spiciness. Bob's black cod entree was the hit of the evening--two good-sized fillets dotted with honey and star anise, extraordinarily buttery in texture and sumptuously flavored. My mixed grill was anticlimactic by comparison, but it did give a good sense of the kitchen's skill with three very different preparations--tandoori salmon (a nice-sized slab), chicken tikka (two small boneless thighs), and a minced lamb kabob. Each had subtle and appealing flavors. Apple jalebi and the fig kulfi for dessert--nothing special to add on to those earlier descriptions--both very good (though the kulfi was a bit grainy). The waiter was efficient but not particularly personable. But overall the impression was very fine, and I would definitely go back on a non-RW budget to try out more.

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#33 crackers

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Posted 12 January 2006 - 01:33 PM

My serving of Tawa Fish consisted of two iPod-Nano-size fillets of red snapper

Welcome Tujague (and Bob). Or should I say, thanks for de-lurking. Love the description - this generation's equivalent to "the size of a deck of cards." Times they do change.

Edited by crackers, 12 January 2006 - 01:34 PM.

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#34 gnatharobed

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Posted 12 January 2006 - 03:10 PM

Just got back from an RW lunch at Rasika. Since our table was not ready when we arrived and we waited an extra 15 minutes the host offered us free wine to compensate. My friends indulged but unfortunately, the cursed Asian glow precludes my drinking at lunch. Going back to the office with a bright red face doesn't always leave the best impresssion :)

We split three appetizers, a lamb kebab, a chicken kebab and a puri (can't remember name). The kebabs were flavorful and moist and the puri tasted like an Indian nacho spicy, crunchy and delicious.

We all had the lamb dahiwala for an entree. The lamb was a bit tough but the sauce it came in was great. Complex flavors that were just begging to be scooped up with a little naan.

The apple jalebi was just as delicious as everyone has been describing. This place is doing a good job with RW, there are lots of options for each course and the service was very attentive.

Debbie Tang
A&J Restaurant


#35 JLK

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Posted 23 January 2006 - 12:22 PM

Ashok Bajaj authored the latest Chef's Column for The List Are You On It? Where does he find the time??
(registration required)

Edited by JLK, 23 January 2006 - 12:22 PM.

Jennifer


#36 TedE

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Posted 17 February 2006 - 10:03 AM

Tom gives 2.5 stars

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#37 JLK

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Posted 17 February 2006 - 10:37 AM

My first meal at Rasika was easily a 7. Tonight? With two adjustments, it would have been a 9 (really). I'll get to those tweaks later; for now, I will attempt to wax poetic about the wonderful food my friend and I ate there this evening.

In choosing my starter, I knew I wanted lamb, but couldn’t decide between seekh kebab (minced lamb, garam masala - $7 from the “sigri” or barbecue portion of the menu) and lamb galouti (aromatic minced lamb, spring onions, green chutney - $8 from the “tawa” or griddle part of the menu). I asked our server to surprise me and, to his credit, he chose the dish he liked better, not the slightly more expensive of the two.

Served in two long cigar shapes, the lamb was pleasingly spicy. A few drops of lemon juice and a dab of chutney revealed of the meat’s complex seasoning. My friend is not much of a carnivore, but she really enjoyed Rasika’s seekh kebab.

Her appetizer, a half portion of paneer makhani ($6), was as good, if not better. I could eat paneer daily (somewhat odd given that I’m not a fan of its cousin, cottage cheese) and when the accompanying tomato and fenugreek sauce is this luscious, well, it’s the reason I will have a hard time not ordering it during every future visit. After the firm cubes of paneer had disappeared, the two of us were sitting there, eating leftover gravy with our spoons, wishing the bread basket would arrive.

Luckily for me, the entrée I chose was chicken makhani ($15). Score! Same delicious sauce served with tender chicken and rice. The server said it would come with white meat, however I received a mix (fine with me), but if you have a preference, you may want to speak up upon ordering.

My friend’s entrée, chicken green masala (also $15), was good and a good deal spicier. Unlike mine, this one did feature white meat and unfortunately it teetered on the brink of dryness. My friend did not seem to mind, though, and she was happy to take the pieces she could not finish home for another meal.

We asked for a small portion of that wonderful crispy spinach (palak chaat, $8) as a side and my friend was every bit as impressed with it as I had been on a previous visit. Light, flavorful, good. When our bread basket did arrive ($7), it contained mint paratha, naan, and onion/sage/goat cheese kulcha. The naan was fine, but dull compared to the delicious kucha.

For dessert, I wanted to try the apple jelebi which I had tasted a bite of on New Year’s. This time, it was even better (my previous bite had been a little on the cold side). Served hot from the fryer, I used tastes of cardamom ice cream to cool my mouth. For some, this dessert will be way too sweet, but I loved it.

Now, on to the less-good parts:

On my previous visit, we’d been tricked by the “sparkling or still” question. This time, I told the questioning server (who was not our server for the remainder of the meal) “tap.” His face seemed to fall a little as he shuffled off to get a pitcher of DC’s finest. Minor quibble.

The behavior of our full-time server was another story. He started off in the friendly realm and quickly veered into overly friendly and then obnoxious. Any question or request was met with a jokey answer. Example: if we asked for our water glasses to be refilled, he might say “sure, for $20.” On and on this went. Nothing we asked or said received a straight response and it quickly became tiresome. I don’t know if he did it because we were a party of two relatively young women and he was having laugh, but it made me appreciate the pleasantly polished service of Notti Bianche all the more.

The only other bit of weirdness was our table, easily the worst in the house. At the very end of the banquette dividing the bar from the dining room, there is a pillar (I have to assume structural, not decorative because the placement is awful). The placement of the pillar meant that to get into my seat, my friend had to stand up, move her chair, and then move the table so I could climb in. Not for the claustrophobic.

Bottom line: I love this place and plan to return SOON (but hope to avoid a certain waiter)

Total damage (including tax, but not tip): $84
Note: I drank and paid for a caipiroshka ($9) at the bar as I waited for my friend and we didn’t drink anything (a major shame given Sebastian’s presence) during dinner.

Jennifer


#38 DonRocks

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Posted 17 February 2006 - 10:48 AM

My first meal at Rasika was easily a 7. Tonight? With two adjustments, it would have been a 9 (really). ... My friend’s entrée, chicken green masala (also $15), was good and a good deal spicier. Unlike mine, this one did feature white meat and unfortunately it teetered on the brink of dryness. My friend did not seem to mind, though, and she was happy to take the pieces she could not finish home for another meal.

Should have stopped by and said hello - I had the chicken green masala last night as well.

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#39 Capital Icebox

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Posted 17 February 2006 - 11:08 AM

Took the boss and a few others to Rasika last week and had a good experience. We tried most of the appetizers, and the real standout (as Sietsema also notices) was the fried baby spinach, the Palaak Chat, which the waiter directed me to. The texture of this dish is delightful, a perfect crunch to the leaves before they disappear in your mouth. The other dishes, however, didn't seem to go above and beyond good Indian fare, and nothing was spicy enough to send me diving for a lassi, which was disappointing. Naan in particular was a disappointment -- chewy, dense, and a small portion at that. Our service was fine, and the atmosphere indeed "hip," and we had a feast for five, including drinks, for just over $200. (Valet is an additional $6.) If I need to entertain a mid-sized group in the mood for Indian again, it fits the bill wonderfully. But I won't be going back by myself for the food.

Edited by Capital Icebox, 17 February 2006 - 11:16 AM.

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#40 Monica Bhide

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Posted 17 February 2006 - 11:17 AM

Should have stopped by and said hello - I had the chicken green masala last night as well.

WHAT.. you went without me??? Don Rockwell :lol:

:huh:

#41 porcupine

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Posted 17 February 2006 - 05:08 PM

Mr P and I were at Rasika again on Wednesday but this time it didn't thrill me. I had the lamb shank rogan josh and a half order of dal makani, and it was decent, but... oh well. Maybe it was too soon after Passage to India.

On another note, fans of the late, lamented Connaught Place: Santosh (head waiter there after Anu left) is now working at Rasika.

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#42 The Delicious

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 08:50 AM

Let’s just say that Barry Dindyal, the general manager, is my hero. My wife and I are early eaters, so when we made a reservation for 9:45, we knew it would be a personal struggle. We arrived early with the hope of catching a break, but of course, the place was packed. At 10:15, when we still hadn’t been seated, and were told it would be at least another 15 minutes, we were downright cranky and irritable. Even the bartender was surprised to see us still seated at her bar. That’s when Mr. Dindyal stepped in and saved the day. He realized he had two hungry, cranky customers on his hands, and offered to buy us a round of drinks and an appetizer to hold us over. We acquiesced. Luckily, not 5 minutes go by, when he comes back to us at the bar to tell us that our table was ready, and that he’d bring the appetizer there. After we sat down, he places an appetizer on the table, and I thank him for his generosity, but he stops me and says that there’s more coming. He proceeded to give us 4 free appetizers and two drinks, and needless to say, we were elated and grateful. Mr. Dindyal did more than just salvage our night, but made it one to remember as well, with his generosity and personal service. In fact, we ordered 2 more appetizers and 2 entrees, and basically ended up having our own tasting menu of sorts. The truth is, now, we can’t wait to go back – in addition to the service, the food was that good!

To start, we had the Lamb Galouti, Ginger Scallops, Hara Bara Kebab, Paneer Shaslik, Palak Chaat, onion and sage bread, and goat cheese kulcha. Everything was great, but the Paneer Shaslik and the Palak Chaat really stood out. The barbequed cottage cheese tasted almost like pizza cheese would, tho I mean that in a flattering way. The crispy spinach damn near melted in your mouth, and was so different, and so tasty. I got all of two bites before my wife realized the deliciousness of it and decided that the rest was for her.

For our main dishes, we had the Chicken Makhani and the Lamb Dahiwala. The chicken came in a delicious red sauce, primarily tasting of spicy tomatoes, that would have also been delicious served over pasta (which is odd, no?). We were sopping it up with the bread. The Lamb was also good, tho I would have preferred it a bit spicier, but that’s just personal preference.

Like I said, great food, and a staff that cares about their customers.

#43 youngfood

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Posted 26 March 2006 - 01:02 PM

We had a nice meal at Rasika on Thursday. Not a lot to add that hasn't been said before on this thread, but a few observations / surprises:

It didn't feel as overly hip / trendy as we expected and the food was really quite tasty.

The gin & ginger was great and the glasses we tried from the wine list were very good and capable of standing up to the spicy food.

The scallops appetizer was excellent - great fresh scallops, nicely browned, but still soft / not overdone inside, and a delicious ginger/honey/garlic/pepper sauce that we swabbed every last bit of off the plate with nan.

The chicken makhani was delicious. Its probably my favorite Indian dish and this was definitely the best I've had. Sweet, spicy, creamy but somehow lighter than it is most places. Like the scallops sauce it somehow tasted fresher than most Indian cuisine.

The black cod was good, but hardly worth it. Love black cod and there was nothing wrong with it, but nothing to justify paying another $10 more than we did for the excellent Makhani. Next time we'll stick with more traditional, and less expensive Indian dishes.

The service was fine. We didn't have the good luck of conversing with the renowned Sebastian, which would have been less disappointing if our server's response to a request to help pair a glass with the scallops had been met with something more helpful than "uh, I guess something white probably." Which brings me to wonder if there's an appropriate way to indicate that a desire to see the Sommelier or if one should just flat out say so.

Anyways, overall a very tasty meal in a nice atmosphere.

#44 deangold

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Posted 26 March 2006 - 01:05 PM

Which brings me to wonder if there's an appropriate way to indicate that a desire to see the Sommelier or if one should just flat out say so. 

The latter will probably get you more attention than any other approach.

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#45 Nadya

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Posted 03 April 2006 - 05:03 PM

You all know how much I love Komi.

But I will be honest with y’all.

I miss Sebastian.

So what is the problem? You say. You know where to find him, don’t you?

You see, that’s what happens when you get temporarily diverted from your fabulous essence by places like Home Depot. When instead of “lamb or halibut?” you begin pondering dilemmas like “Palisades sodding Park green or Lady sodding Liberty green?” When rubber gloves, screwdrivers and painting aprons become your uniform of choice instead of sparkly top and stilettos.

But I digress.

Because one’s true nature has to come out, because I got tired of looking like crap, and because I really, really miss Sebastian, last Saturday night was finally the time for me to re-emerge as a fabulous, dressy, be-stilettoed creature, and pay a visit to Rasika. To be impressed, pampered and adored.

Walking in, I was impressed by a pleasantly subdued décor. You know how so many Indian places look like harems that saw better days? And there is nothing wrong with opulence when you feel like Bollywood for a day. It’s just that so few people can do it well.

Rasika is an interesting mix of Scandinavian modern and a few carefully chosen Indian hints. The lampshades, the beads, the spicy colors all are unmistakably eastern, but the bones underneath are clean, sparing, and stylish. The lounge tables are low and banquettes beckons, the lighting casts a warm glow on the most bedraggled of faces.

The bar didn’t look too terribly busy – no raucous crowds packed in five deep. But with no reservation, a table for two could only be had in the lounge, which we were only too glad to settle for.

The crowd, I noticed with approval, was slightly better looking than average Washington. If you are even a little bit like me, once in a while you sigh for the overall stylelessness that pervades the place. This is why I was pleased to be surrounded by good-looking people. Oh sure, there was an occasional muffin midriff and an unpainted toenail tellingly protruding from an unseasonably strappy shoe. But by and large, eye candy was abound.

Menus were quickly snatched away from us as the fabulous Sebastian ladled on pampering and adoration by ordering for us. Just as well, because the small dishes looked too tempting to order only a few, and you know what? He knows better. And time was so easy to while away over a crisp champagne cocktail with a zingy pickled ginger.

The food, darlings, surprised me by how authentically Indian it was. For some reason, the style and fabulosity quotient of the place led me to expect something fusiony, fashionable, IndeBleu-like, but better – not the known, the true and the comforting flavors.

The best dish came early. A small dish of crisped spinach was the highlight of the meal because, oh, so many reasons. It was rich. It melted in my mouth. It was sweet. It was crunchy. It was an opposite of everything one ever thought about spinach. It comes with tiny bits of diced tomatoes, tamarind and sweet yogurt. It’s not swimming in cream a la palak paneer. It’s just rich and melty and sexy and I could eat it every day and not get bored.

A handful more traditional appetizers followed, aloo potatoes, lentils, mango shrimp – all so well executed, so cleanly prepared, so comforting and well-done, I didn’t want anything but.

We split the main of braised lamb shank which was everything a lamb shank should be – big, tender, flavorful, falling off the bone. A split dessert was a tribute to more richness and comfort – carrot mass with diced pistachios surrounded by a delicate drizzle of saffron cream. A special note of appreciated to a mixed bread basket with rich, buttery flatbreads speckled with bits of veggies or flattened by brown fiber of some sort but delicious nevertheless.

That evening, Rasika delivered everything I needed and didn’t even know I did. The style. The comfort. The eye candy. The great food.

And the joy of returning into my true element after what felt like years of Home Depot hibernation.

Edited to say I forgot to mention the minced chicken appetizer that came in form of two Ron Jeremy cigars with a liberal drizzle of mint chutney. They were excellent, flavorful and very tender.

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#46 Banco

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Posted 05 April 2006 - 04:16 PM

I had jury duty yesterday and used the lunch break to try Rasika for the first time. I have very little to add to Nadya's lyrical and exhaustive praise, especially as I had only one entrée. The space is one of the most beautiful, I think, in Washington. (But then as a woodworking geek I've always been a sucker for walnut, and it abounds here.) I ate at the bar and had the halibut curry: large, tender chunks of halibut, perfectly cooked, lolling in lightly thickened curry fragrant with cilantro, saffron, and garlic. "Heady" is the best word to describe this dish, and it was absolutely delicious in every way.

(Later that evening I wandered into Bis and discovered Rissa and Nadya, who proceeded to regale me with their feminine charms well into the night--all perfectly innocent of course.)

#47 mame11

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Posted 26 July 2006 - 09:36 PM

Wow! Tonight I had a wonderful dinner in a high energy and exciting space. Prior to a Fringe Festival production, I caught a light dinner at the Grill Bar at Rasika. The entrees were intriguing but my appetite not so big and no way to take leftovers, so I ordered two small plates and a delicious rice dish.

1) The Seekh Kabob appetizer was a huge portion of nicely seasoned lamb. (Think the size of the Corduroy Spring Rolls) It really made a perfect entree. Lately, I have been thinking about the size of portions compared to daily allowances we require.

2) Avocado Banana Chaat was a beautifully presented salad of avocado topped with a grilled banana. The carmalized banana was quite unique in flavor and texture. I'd LOVE to know how to recreate it. Oh, the avocado was more than abundant.

3) Vegetable Palano rice was a saffron rice/veggie mix that blended well with my small plates.

The ice tea is worth mentioning too as it was yummy. I am an ice tea purist, I like it all Southern (i.e. Liptons unsweet is just fine with me). I do not like fruit tea. I LOVED the ice tea at Rasika. It is flavored to complement the Indian food. I must also have this recipe.

The restaurant's concept is unique. I very much felt like I was in London, not the U.S. I spoke with someone on my way out and he told me that this idea of progressive Indian cuisine is very popular in India.

The service was also attentive enough considering the lively dining room. I look forward to going back soon.

#48 qryan

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Posted 27 July 2006 - 09:04 AM

First dinner at Rasika last night. I found parts very impressive and parts not as much; overall I think it's a great concept and wish there were more progressive Indian restaurants, and I will definitely be back.

The space is great and it's a fun bar with genuinely interesting cocktails and a very friendly and enthusiastic bartender. My girlfriend had the special drink last night, which was some sort of basil vodka with champaigne poured over a frozen strawberry core; really excellent. I had an infused woodford reserve bourbon, which was also nice. As for the food, the Calamari Balchao was a tasty spicy calamari appetizer was really good, with an appealing sauce, but the calamari was slightly overcooked. We split a Goa Shrimp Curry, which was outstanding, and the shrimp were top quality, although the sauce tasted a little like a super luxurious buffalo wing sauce. We also had the Chicken Green Masala, which I liked, but did not find terribly exciting. The chicken was a little overcooked, and the sauce was as interesting with the others we had. We also had the Dal Makhani, a lentil and onion side dish, which was almost perfect. The nan was exceptional.

There were a few service annoyances, although not many. It was a packed night, and we were on time for an 8:30 reservation, were told our table would be ready within 5 minutes, but it was really 25 minutes. This doesn't bother us because we would rather wait than be rushed when we were eating, but it made us pay a little more attention to the service. Our waiter was very friendly, but would disappear for very long periods of time, and we had to ask him a few times to refill completely empty water glasses.

Overall, probably my favorite Indian experience in the District, although I like Heritage India a lot too. Not as good as the best Indian I've had (e.g. Tamarind Bay in Cambridge, MA). It has the potential to be a great restaurant, though, and the food is almost there. The wine list was good, we had a nice Gewurtz, but maybe a little sparse on the low end for a restaurant like this. With a little more care, I would want to go more often. Right now, however, I might rather spend the same money elsewhere. I'll definitely give it another shot in the near future to see how the rest of the menu tastes.

#49 cucas87

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Posted 31 July 2006 - 10:35 PM

I met some friends for a late dinner at Rasika tonight. Much of what we had was very, very good. And the atmosphere is nice. For appetizers, we shared a bread basket, the spinach chaat and the dal makhani. All were delicious. I was reluctant to try the spinach chaat, but it was lovely and a good mix of spices and textures. The bread basket allows a sampling of a number of breads; we substituted the goat cheese bread for the mint bread. This was a good move as the goat cheese bread is wonderful. We then shared 2 mains: chicken green masala and the goa shrimp curry. They were both rich and tasty-- but slightly overcooked. There were a few negatives that I point out with the caveat that this was my first time here and I would be happy to -- and in fact have plans to -- go back. The negatives: the drinks were not so good. I ordered the champagne cocktail, which is a ginger-champagne kind of thing. It had too much ginger -- and I adore ginger. My friend ordered the pomegranate drink; she said it was ok. But when she was ready for another, she ordered the mango drink and did not care for it. We're not the world's most picky drinkers, so I assume the bartender had an off night. Also, we all shared 2 desserts, the apple dessert and a chocolate and toasted coconut creme brulee. The apple thing was delicious (as reported by others here). The brulee needed to be more bruleed. It was tasty, but had the odd texture of an overly heavy pudding.

CGR
"I'd give up chocolate, but I'm not a quitter."


#50 youngfood

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Posted 04 August 2006 - 12:00 PM

S
I
L
R

Someone/Sebastian
Is
Leaving
Rasika
?
?
?
?





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Local Chain, Penn Quarter, West End, Modern Indian, Vikram Sunderam, James Beard Award, Atul Narain, Knightsbridge Restaurant Group

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