It's always a challenge to secure reservations at Rasika, but starting this Friday, you can opt to eat at a second iteration of the restaurant in the West End neighborhood.
Chef Vikram Sunderam will oversee both kitchens, and popular dishes like black cod and crispy spinach palak chaat will be available at both locations--but the airy, window-lined dining room on 22nd Street will still have its own identity. Sunderam worked for months with Rasika West End's chef de cuisine, Manish Tyagi, and about a quarter of the menu is new--including dishes like young-goat biryani, seared duck moilee, and multigrain poori pockets stuffed with aromatic vegetables and mint chutney. There's also a section of snacks such as crispy shrimp with curry leaves. In addition to spice-friendly wines and beers, Julie Ebell (formerly of the Gibson) will be mixing cocktails incorporating Indian ingredients--rose-saffron syrup is mixed with sparkling wine, and there's a martini made with Assam-tea-infused vodka.
Owner Ashok Bajaj has more than a few VIPs among his regulars, and there's a private, six-person table just off the subterranean kitchen for those who want privacy or an insider view. Other prime seats include jewel-toned booths and tables in the book-lined library room. If you're the soft-opening sort of diner--meaning your curiosity about a new spot trumps any impatience you might have with a new restaurant working out its kinks--you can call for a table during the soft-opening phase today through Wednesday. The restaurant opens officially on Friday.
Rasika West End. 1177 22nd St., NW (entrance on the corner of M St. and New Hampshire Ave.); 202-466-2500. Opening hours: lunch Monday through Friday, 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM; Dinner Monday through Thursday, 5:30 to 10:30; Friday and Saturday, 5 to 11.