Photo from Rasikarestaurant.com
Ever since I went to Bibiana last year for my birthday I have been wanting to try Rasika- the modern four star Indian restaurant owned by the same restaurant group of famed Ashok Bajaj. It should be noted that not only did Bajaj win the James Beard award in 2009 for Outstanding Restaurateur, but Rasika's Chef Vikram Sunderam also won a James Beard award for 2009 Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic. Impressive to say the least! As you can imagine, reservations are not easy to come by. I booked this reservation 2 months in advance and it was for a Tuesday night. I have to tell you, it's worth the wait.
You walk in and are instantly calmed by the warm smell of spices and soft light reflecting off the divider of dangling crystals. The tones are rich and colorful, mimicking the spices of the dishes, with a saffron colored wall and hanging red jewels. The waitstaff is extremely friendly and professional. There are many of them floating effortlessly through the dining room making sure the evening service is flawless. (I hate when you go to a nice restaurant that is understaffed and the server looks stressed and flustered.)
The food reflected the same amount of warmth and professionalism as the atmosphere. We started with the Palak Chaat, an appetizer of crispy fried spinach, sweet yogurt, tamarind and date chutney. It was phenomenal. You bite in and first taste a sweet crunch which then actually melts in your mouth.
For entrees, I was indecisive as usual. So many dishes appealed to me. Our server had a simple solution- half portions of two different entrees! I've never done that before, nor had that option ever been offered. She was so accommodating. We ended up with a table full of food including the Black Cod, Raan-E-Rasika and Chicken Green Masala as well as a side of Cucumber Raita and Naan. When they delivered the food the aroma made my mouth water. The Black Cod was delicate and flaky with dill, honey, star anise and red wine vinegar. It was light, buttery and tangy. The Chicken Green Masala was tender and spicy, yet not overpowering. The Cucumber Raita was a nice complement as it cooled my palate after the spice builds up bite after bite. The Raan-E-Rasika was a beautifully Frenched lamb shank with rich red colors from saffron, black cardamom and dark rum. It was extremely tender, yet not fatty like you often find with a lamb shank. There wasn't even a hint of gaminess- clearly very high quality lamb.
Everything about this dining experience was fantastic- from the ambiance and highly professional staff to the tender, high quality, perfectly prepared dishes. I was even surprised at the reasonable prices for a fine dining establishment. I'll be going online to make my next reservation very soon.
633 D Street, NW
CORRECTION: So...... I made a boo boo. I was clearly drunk on Indian food and wine when I wrote this because I made a...(wait for it...) mistake. Oops! I wrongly stated that Bajaj and Vikram both WON Beard awards but in fact they were nominated. The awards for 2009 went to Myriad and Chef Jose Garces. So that I do not do anyone else injustice, feel free to get the full list of 2009 winners here. Kids- lesson be learned... vino and blogging don't mix! Thanks!