On a recent jaunt to Washington, circumstances kept me from eating at some of my top picks in the capital: Minibar by José Andrés was in the midst of moving to new quarters, with just 12 seats. Michel Richard’s Citronelle was closed due to extensive water damage at the Latham Hotel. And it turns out that in order to get a reservation at the highly lauded KOMI, the high-end Greek restaurant from Johnny Monis, you have to call exactly one month beforehand. I didn't and believe me, I was kicking myself.
I did manage to get a res at Rasika, the contemporary Indian restaurant, but at the newer West End location, not the original Penn Quarter locale -- and only at 9:15 p.m., too late to entice more friends to come with me. Two of us got a table on the broad sidewalk terrace where we could hear half a dozen languages spoken all around us.
This is really sophisticated Indian cooking, not at all gimmicky, with a large menu. We started with sev batata puri, delicate little biscuits piled with potato, crispy noodles and mango. I loved the eggplant layered with slurried potato and side of slender okra cooked with lentil and curry leaves. The standout, though, was nalli gosht, lamb shank garnished with a single charred chile pepper.