100 Best Restaurants 2010: Rasika

No. 8: Rasika

Cuisine: Modern Indian cooking, exuberantly conceived and executed with precision. The curries, kebabs, and stews that tend to define subcontinent cooking are starting points for immensely talented chef Vikram Sunderam. In slyly Westernizing these dishes, he incorporates luxury ingredients and sets them off with sauces that speak of care and refinement while retaining the punch of the original.

Mood: Shades of cinnabar and saffron, fabric-swathed walls, and curtains of metal and glittering glass beads all make for a setting that manages to soothe and stir the senses. There may not be a more stunning dining room in all of DC.

Best for: A romantic dinner; a night of wowing out-of-towners.

Best dishes: Palak chaat, ethereally crisp leaves of spinach with date chutney and tamarind, and large enough for several to share; lobster moilee with ginger, green chilies, and coconut milk; tandoori lamb chops slathered with a paste of cashews, ginger, and green herbs; truffle-oil-slicked naan; tomato/gold-raisin chutney to put on everything; samosas oozing chocolate and apple beignet with cardamom ice cream for dessert.

Insider tips: If too-sweet cocktails are your nemesis, mixologist Jason Strich’s tangy concoctions—such as the Cucumber Vesper, with cucumber-infused vodka—are sure to please. And you don’t have to order takeout to take home a taste of Rasika: Jars of the restaurant’s gravies—we like the Kashmiri—are $5 apiece.

Service: •••

Open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday for dinner. Expensive.

See all of 2010's 100 Best Restaurants

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.