Rasika, Penn Quarter
I have lived in Washington DC for nearly four years. Why did it take me so long to eat at Rasika?! Perhaps because my husband (let’s refer to him henceforth as Mr. Green Bean) refuses to enter any Indian Restaurant due to an unfortunate aversion to those salacious aromas. But when the opportunity arose to ditch Mr. Green Bean and join a couple of girlfriends at DC’s king of modern Indian cuisine, I jumped!
Now, let me preface this review and all to follow, by saying that while I consider myself a good judge of food quality, the dining experience as a whole greatly influences my overall opinion of a restaurant. Thus my reviews will not only discuss the cuisine, but also the quality of the experience based on a restaurant’s proficiency in serving a gluten-free diner. Having said this, Rasika is certainly a double threat: Amazing food, amazing experience.
Once settled into a restaurant table, I often start a meal by announcing to the server my “allergy.” I analyze their reaction (bewildered, annoyed, deadpan) as the first indication of how defensive I should be. Once our waitress at Rasika told me the menu is roughly 90% gluten-free and began rattling off half a dozen of the best dishes that happen to be gluten-free, I relaxed quit a bit. When I quizzed her on a fish entree and she knew malt vinegar was one of maybe a hundred other ingredients, I knew I was really in good hands. My non-gluten-free friends and I sipped our cocktails in relief as we realized we could share plates without compromising anyone’s palate or health.
We began with Rasika’s signature Palak Chaat, a sweet and savory crispy baby spinach snack, and Tawa Baingan, layers of eggplant and potato cooked to golden perfection on the griddle.
For entree’s the Kerala Shrimp Curry was layered with complex Indian spices, and the melt in your mouth Tandoori Lamb Chops were bursting with mild yet rich flavor. Gobhi Mattar (cauliflower) and Cucumber Raita balanced the meal just right. With a small side of Basmati Rice, I didn’t even miss the Garlic Naan. One spoonful of complimentary sweet cardamom ice cream rounded off the best gourmet Indian meal I have ever experienced. For one night, this Glutie Foodie almost forgot she had any dietary complications at all. Thank you, Rasika. I will be back.