In this era of celebrity chefs and splashy food industry awards galas, it has become common for restaurants, like Broadway shows, to have "openings." And if a successful opening night is any bellwether, the new Rasika West End is in for a long and happy run.
The festive unveiling was held Thursday night, with owner Ashok Bajaj and his team at the entrance welcoming loyal patrons and friends. The bar was decked out with a variety of wines and a special saffron-and-tea-infused vodka cocktail. Waiters passed trays of delicious bite-size appetizers, including shrimp bezule, spiced chicken dumplings, and garlicky cheese with vegetables, which disappeared as fast as they appeared. Which is why hanging out in the fragrant kitchen was the better strategy.
Rasika West End is on the ground floor of a new and contemporary building at the corner of M Street and New Hampshire Avenue, wedged between the Renaissance Hotel and the Ritz-Carlton West End. The building was developed by Anthony Lanier, who originally negotiated with famed New York chef Daniel Boulud to open an outpost there. When the economy crashed, that deal fell through, and the would-be restaurant space sat empty. Scoring Rasika was a winning break for Lanier, as well as for Bajaj's many fans.
This will expand Bajaj's domain to seven restaurants in Washington. They include the original Rasika in Penn Quarter, plus 701, the Bombay Club, the Oval Room, Ardeo + Bardeo, and Bibiana. He is among the national nominees for a James Beard Award as Outstanding Restaurateur in the US. He's been considered that in DC for years.
For a look at some of the dishes on offer at the new Rasika, head over to Best Bites Blog.