Archive | August, 2010

Rasika

26 Aug

Rasika is one of those places that has been on the top of my ‘to try’ list for quite some time now. For one reason or another I just never made it in, then suddenly last week I had the opportunity to try it… twice… and at the very same table. Now that is a happy coincidence.

Rasika’s interior reminds me of dining in an Indian jewel box, everything is very rich, warm and plush, there are also actual (plastic) jewels suspended from the ceiling. The staff is friendly and happy to guide you through any menu items you might be unfamiliar with. Before you get to the menu however be sure to dive into their cocktail list, which is now one of my favorites in town. My favorite was the Chili Fizz a spicy gin based drink with just enough kick.

If you have ever heard mention of Rasika then you have more than likely also heard of their palak chaat aka crispy spinach. It is the stuff of legends and rightfully so, this is some very special spinach: flash fried, yogurt sauced, melt in your mouth, boyfriend says he will be returning to have just spinach for lunch the next day- kind of spinach. I couldn’t resist ordering the dish on both visits. So good.

Heavenly Spinach

‘Do you like spicy?’ our waitress asks as we choose entrees. We do and she recommends lamb kolhapuri, a dish laden with spices: red chilies, coriander, cinnamon and cloves. The meat is lovely, fork-tender, and the dish packs quite a bit of heat. It is quite tasty though it did require an extra order of naan and a cold Kingfisher beer to temper all those chilies! The Andhra chicken curry we ordered was much less spicy with a sweetness from the coconut and poppy seeds in the dish. The black cod I had on trip two is a horse of a different color in comparison with these heavier, comforting curries. It is a delicate dish, with just enough spice, sweetness lent by honey and the surprising flavors of fresh dill and star anise. The fish melts in your mouth in a way I was unaware cod was able to melt.

One Fish, Two Fish

On the dessert front Rasika tempts the dinner with a selection of new and interesting offerings. On my second visit my whole table succumbed to the gulab jamun, little donut like desserts, soaked in honey with an interior consistency of a custard. They are served with cardamom ice cream and manage to be delicious and complex at the same.

Two visits, one table, two amazing meals (and hopefully more to come)!

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Ezme

24 Aug

My first impressions walking into Ezme, the new Turkish restaurant and wine bar in Dupont circle are that I love the space… and that I wish it was Fall. While I love restaurants of all shapes, sizes and cuisines my favorite spaces are cozy, European style restaurants. Small spaces with little tables and low lighting. They seem to draw you into your meal and those you share it with. Ezme on the main floor of a Dupont townhouse fits this bill perfectly with its exposed brick walls lined with wine bottles, Turkish art and closely clustered seating. It is like the restaurant equivalent of a hug, (which is why I think it will be perfect in the Fall when the blistering heat of DC in August has faded and cozy will be so much more inviting).

Kebab!

To start we ordered the summer red wine flight with wines hailing from: California, France and Australia (where is Turkey?), and two appetizers: the mucver and sigara boregi. The former being little zucchini pancakes in tomato and yogurt sauces. I found the pancakes themselves to be rather bland and tasteless. The sauces however turned out to be a great accompaniment for the sigara, cigar shaped crispy pastry filled with warm feta, parsley and dill which were delicious (though how could flaky pastry filled with melted cheese ever really be a bad thing).

Next up the karsik kebab, a combination platter featuring: shish kebab, chicken kebab, meatballs, chicken meatballs, rack of lamb and doner kebab. The highlights in this plethora of meat were undoubtedly the lamb and beef meatballs, grilled and so juicy I would have been more than happy with a big plate of just them, and then the rack of lamb which was perfectly cooked and served with a lovely port wine sauce. The doner kebab served over white rice however was a disappointing study on dry meets dry and the mashed potatoes served with the lamb were so thin they tasted like the instant variety. There were however certainly more hits than misses, and when this relatively new spot works out a few kinks I think it will be a great go-to spot for date nights or catching up with friends over red wine and kebab.

Seventh Hill

18 Aug

When wondering to Eastern Market for dinner supplies a few weeks back Seventh Hill Pizza managed to delay shopping endeavors, luring the boyfriend and I inside for a quick lunch. We were not the only ones, well after the customary lunch hour the teeny pizzeria is packed, perhaps having something to do with the glowing review the Post published the week before. With the tables full we migrate toward the one open seat at the bar… right next to the pizza oven on a day when the heat index reached a number I don’t even want to think about. “That seat,” chef Anthony Pilla warns while shaping pizza dough a few feet away, “Is at your own risk. It’s going to be hot.” Noted.

Thankfully a table opens and we snatch it up quickly. Seventh Hill is an order at the counter operation. We opt for the Eastern Market pizza and the soup of the day, a white grape gazpacho. When the food arrives the gazpacho comes with a surprise, a small round of pizza dough with a crunchy, cheesy topping. The cool soup itself is delicious blend of flavors, refreshing and smooth with a little tang from the grapes. On that particularly suffocating Sunday in July it made me want to forgo my spoon and gulp the contents directly from the bowl.

Mmmm... gazpacho.

The pizza is served Neapolitan style with a thin crust. Ours was topped with tomato, goat cheese, basil, rosemary, tapenade and mushrooms. It tasted like the kitchen had just plucked the ingredients from the garden, so fresh. My only complaint would be that our crust was a bit flimsy/floppier than expected, another minute in that oven probably would have  made it just right.

Pizza, Pizza

While were munching Pilla comes out from behind the oven to chat with his customers, going out of his way to make sure everyone dining feels welcome and satisfied. “Thumbs up?” he asks. Definitely. We’ll be back.