100 Best Restaurants 2011: Passage to India

Only the top 40 restaurants were ranked in 2011's Best Restaurants list.

The colorful doors that lead into this serenely pretty dining room hint that it isn’t your average Indian restaurant. Inside are waiters with bow ties and a roster of dishes not often found in these parts, such as a Parsi-style dish of lamb studded with apricots and topped with crisp potato straws.

Chef/owner Sudhir Seth’s menu, organized around India’s geographic quadrants, showcases the preparations and sauces found across his native country. Start with a wonderful western-India-inspired crab masala or juicy nuggets of chicken kebab spiked with nutmeg and jalapeño. Then move on to baby eggplant in a sesame-peanut gravy or a dish of slow-cooked black lentils finished with butter. All the intense flavors call for a refreshing dessert of sweetened yogurt ladled over chunks of fresh mango.

Also good: Sev-murmura chaat, a fancy version of the crunchy, tangy street snack of puffed rice, dates, and tamarind; potato samosas with chickpeas and yogurt; thinly sliced tandoori lamb; spicy chicken with spinach and fenugreek; pickle plate; garlic naan; kulfi, a frozen-milk dessert with luscious burnt-orange sauce.

Open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday and Sunday for brunch and dinner. Moderate.

>> See all of 2011's 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.