As I mentioned in last Thursday’s post – I had a quick work trip to DC before leaving on our Southeast Asia excursion. I managed to meet up with an old friend, and even got to two different restaurants that were blog-worthy. Rasika was the second of the two I got to, and I have to say, it was outstanding.
I had asked my old friend for some recommendations on dinner, on places where I could eat but so could my colleagues, and I wouldn’t be worried about arriving and not having any options. When she recommended Rasika she said it was a top-rated restaurant not just in DC, but in the country. I quickly did a little research and found out that Rasika is actually on the Zagat list of top 20 restaurants in the country. After hearing that, I simply had to go. Luckily for me, I had a strong say in where we went for dinner that night and we ended up at Rasika.
At a top-rated restaurant I feel it’s always a good idea to go with the tasting menu if you can. What better way to get a sense for all of the food and flavors available than to try as much as you possibly can? After asking the server whether or not the kitchen could accommodate my no meat, no dairy, no egg requirements, I decided the tasting menu was the way to go in this case as well. And it would be downright rude of me not to mention how wonderful the server was. She confirmed my dietary needs twice, went back and forth with the kitchen twice, and then came back to assure me the kitchen had accepted my challenge. Now the fact that the menu was switched up for me is going to make this a bit hard to blog and decipher, since I’m not sure it was all on the menu or even what I was having when. But I’m going to try my best to match what I ate up with their online menu and try to get it right.
And what an experience it was. The first course was maybe one of the most delicious things I’ve eaten in a long, long time. Kind of like kale chips, but made with spinach, the palak chaat was out of this world. Normally it comes with yogurt, but that was left off for me. I’m not sure if the spinach is fried, lightly battered, or what, but this is one way even the pickiest of eaters will eat their greens. This course was served with a Francois Montand, Sparkling, Brut Rosé – because who doesn’t love a little bubbly to start things off?
Next up was the cauliflower bezule, which I’ve never heard of but wish I had. This dish reminded me of buffalo wings but without all that gross chicken and bones. I absolutely love foods with a good kick, and the cauliflower definitely had it. Crunchy and spicy and oh-so-good, I ate every last piece of it (and likely ruined my appetite for everything else in the process). I’ve never had cauliflower that tasted so good. Along with the cauliflower came a white wine that I can’t remember, but it was light and delicious. It was a great contrast to the spicy and powerful cauliflower.
Next up was another stunner. It’s incredibly hard to narrow down my favorites from this meal and I keep trying to think of other ways to describe the dishes than “delicious, amazing,” etc. but I can’t! I was surprised and surprised again by everything that kept coming out. And the next course was similarly delicious!
The tawa baingan is a tower of eggplant and potatoes with some amazing spices and peanut sauce. I wanted to lick the plate. For such a simple seeming dish (aside from the presentation) it was insanely good. The potatoes had a bit of spice to them that mixed perfectly with the peanut sauce. The eggplant was cooked perfectly – not too mushy and not too hard. Another amazing course!
After all three amazing courses to start with, the entree came out. And it was actually more like three entrees. (This meal was the definition of gluttony). I actually have no idea what the next course was exactly and I haven’t quite been able to figure out what they all were. So rather than lead you astray I’ll just say – you guessed it – it was delicious! I have to say, maybe I was just so full by the time the main course came, but I enjoyed all the prior courses more than this one. Not to say it wasn’t amazing, but I wasn’t as impressed as I had been with the earlier courses.
There were three different curry-type dishes one with lentils, one with cauliflower, and one with eggplant. The eggplant dish was my favorite of the bunch and was incredibly flavorful – it had a bit of an unexpected tang to it that was really surprising and really delicious. The curries were served with a fried okra, rice, and naan. For the wine, this course was paired with a quinta do crasto, touriga nacional blend – a good full-bodied wine to go with the main course.
I must admit, I took the majority of this last course back to the room with me and proudly ate it cold for breakfast. It was still pretty darn delicious. But just when I thought we waved the white flag of defeat – there was a dessert course. Of course there was!
A collection of sorbet for me, and a d’Asti pairing. Because what’s dessert without a little extra bubble?
Needless to say, this meal was insane. So delicious, so many flavors I haven’t had before, and the service and overall ambiance was spot on. I already can’t wait to return to DC and make another visit here. If you have a special occasion or like to go all-out at times, definitely go for the the tasting menu. If you don’t – order any of these options off the menu. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.