Atmosphere is great, but not true Indian food.
Reading the other reviews, it sounds like people really enjoy Rasika. Did I miss something? Did I not order the right dishes? Perhaps it's my midwestern style that clouded the true wonderment of Rasika.
For some reason, I was really not enthused by this Indian Restaurant. Granted, the wine list is huge, the place is nicely furnished, and the service was just fine, but the food was not up to parr at all. I've been to Indian restaurants all over the country, from Boston to San Francisco and in between. My family owns an Indian restaurant in Minneapolis, and I've traveled to India for the purpose of week-long food excursions. In effect, I would like to hope that I'm somewhat qualified to comment on the Indian food genre.
After ordering a Naan, Chicken Curry, Baingan Mutter Bhartha, and a Paneer dish, the first thing I noticed was that you were not given a "spice" option. In most US Indian restaurants, your food is spiced-to-order, usually abiding by a mild, medium, hot scale. However, I can get past this minor detail. The prices were not too extravagant, so that was nice, especially for being in DC. A lot of people were drinking wine, and I felt somewhat out of place with my glass of water. Again, another minor detail that is trivial. When the food arrived (timely, which was nice with such a busy restaurant), the presentation was decent and everything looked appealing. However, any effort to embrace and enjoy Rasika was immediately diminished after a quick tasting of each dish. The flavor was so inauthentic, the various spices terribly awry, and the overal taste simply, well, Americanized. Grossly Americanized. Each dish, while combining authentic spices such as cumin and coriander, was sporting ingredients that were obviously not native to south Asia. The naan was small, and the taste was lacking. I was so disappointed, to say the least!
In essence, the atmosphere is pleasant and the wine list is lavish, so this would be a great place to go if you're meeting a client or looking to impress your friends. However, I do not recommend Rasika if you're looking for food that is even somewhat authentic. I would love to take the Rasika owners (and chefs) out and treat them to some true Indian food. You don't have to travel all the way to India to experience true Indian food, but don't expect to find it here. Rasika is a nice place and obviously a hit among upscale DC folk, however it unfortunately fell short of my standards.
Citysearch Editorial Review. One of the most popular restaurants in Washington, this upscale Indian spot in D.C.'s Penn Quarter serves up authentic, flavorful fare--"rasika" translates to "flavors" in Sanskrit--in a lively open kitchen. The dishes may be traditional, but the décor is all modern: A dramatic crystal bead curtain separates the dining room from the bar, and square white plates and angular stemware feel chic and updated against white tablecloths. Regulars swear by Rasika's signature dishes; the palak chaat is crispy spinach served with sweet yogurt, tamarind and date chutney, while the black cod pares honey with star anise and red wine vinegar. Happily, no entrée rings in at more than $30, though you'd never know it by the service, which is impeccably attentive without ever being overbearing. (Photo by Michael J. Colella)
what a meal. Fantastic food and attentive service. Don't miss the palak chaat (crispy spinach) appetizer. I had to change a reservation two days beforehand, and they were polite and very accommodating about it. Even though this is a more upscale place, our dinner party with a baby was welcomed warmly (note: no booster seats available, but you can bring your own). I'd recommend coming with a larger group simply for the excuse to order several dishes.
Fun spot to dine.
Wow! Fantastic, sublime, delicate food with attentive yet appropriate service even in the bar. Another lovely meal that we could enjoy with our teenagers that they then raved about.
You'll see this is not an unusual review for Rasika so if you want to "just drop in" like we did, be there just before 5pm and if no dinning slots are available, ask to be seated at the bar tables. ambiance, staff and experience are all excellent.
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