We like to ‘mix it up’ when we visit a city. It’s so tempting to stick to your favourite restaurant type.
Here are our recommendations for eating cosmopolitan in Washington.
We found an Indian where the biriyani is baked in a pie, an Italian where the pasta is still made by Nonna, and a Greek where the taramasalata is so full of fish roe it’s an explosion on the tongue!
This was the restaurant that my hubby was most excited about. He would choose a curry house over almost any other type of restaurant. I’m pretty sure those addictive hot chillies are to blame!
Inside Rasika West End is very modern. Both the Obama’s and the Clinton’s have celebrated birthdays and anniversaries here.
I can see them tucked into these booths…
There’s a dramatic tree sculpture in the centre.
Staff smoothly dash around quietly and calmly fetching cocktails and mouthwatering dishes that waft through the restaurant.
The bar whisked up some exciting cocktails. Here, the Rasika: Passion Fruit Puree, House-made Ginger Liqueur, Sparkling Wine. I had this one, it was really good.
I also tried this one. The Ankita: ‘Iced Masala Chai’ – Vodka, Masala Chai Tea, Orange Blossom Water. They definitely know how to create unique and easy drinking cocktails here.
Choosing from the varied menu was tricky. There were so many tasty sounding dishes.
Mainly I was just so happy that hubby was grinning from ear to ear. I got lots of ‘well done’s’ for finding this eatery and brownie points were mentioned (and excepted).
My starter turned up and my initial mood was disappointment. Having heard so many good things I was expecting a little more razzmatazz.
Then I tasted, and my eyes closed. YUM. These king prawns (Mango Shrimp) were so soft they practically melted in the mouth. The flavour was perfectly balanced. It didn’t even need the dip.
Hubby went for his old school favourite of Tandoori Chicken Tikka (so soft, so juicy, so flavoursome). When it’s done this well, the simplest dishes can be the best.
We asked for things to come whenever they were ready, so a crunchy Naan full of giant bubbles (and that sweet base you never get from shop-bought ones) and a rich curry the Andhra (red chilli/curry leaves/coriander seeds).
Andy’s thoughts – tender, full of flavour, spicy. He enjoyed it very much.
Mine was a triumph. A simple vegetable biriyani (a choice inspired by my sister Emma, who isn’t a vegetarian but insists the best curries are). This one is cooked in a pie!
…with a cooling raita dip.
I could hardly keep a lid on it!
Even my carnivorous man couldn’t stop pinching my carrots!
I’m sorry to say, that I approach desserts in Indian restaurants with middling to high caution – depending on whether a ‘punky’ is listed. A plastic parrot with a dodgy ice-cream inside that our children used to pick (and still do occasionally, just for ‘bants’).
These, however, had me at Coulis.
This crispy Chocolate Samosa was fantastic. Hubby picked it. I stole it. With pastry flakes over my smiling lips I exclaim, ‘I’m sorry, but it’s just so moreishly chocolaty!’. He looked on helplessly.
My choice was a little less successful. Coconut Bebinca turned out to be thin stacked pancake-like layers (a little raw for my tastes). But the creamy coconut mousse with the cherry sauce was very nice.
Rasika West End is renowned for it’s Tawa (Griddle), Sigri (open Barbeque), Tandoori and regional dishes. It has been name as one of the top 20 restaurants in America.
Rasika West End
1190 New Hampshire Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20037
Another day, we were exploring Georgetown and had lunch at Filomena’s. All I had told hubby was that we were going for a hearty Italian.
It turned out to be an Italian with heart.
Here is one of the pasta makers, putting her heart and soul into making fresh pasta for the restaurant.
All was going very well. Hubby was captivated by this old Italian Nonna forming perfect pasta shapes with her ageing, knobbly but skilled fingers.
And then we stepped down a flight of stairs into the dark restaurant. Hubby’s face was a mix of shock, amusement and ‘what are we doing here?’.
‘Didn’t I mention the restaurant is decorated in Filomena’s style?’. ‘It reminds me of my Nan’.
If my Nan owned a restaurant she would decorate it like this all spring too. The restaurant gets hugely decorated for Halloween and Christmas too.
The menu is packed full of traditional hearty Italian dishes. Big burly Italian men rushed about serving huge dishes with loud and hearty flair.
I make my choice easily. I really fancy a good old Lasagne.
Many antiques and knick knacks of Filomena’s are in the restaurant. This is a replica of her kitchen at home. Her daughter opened this restaurant in honour of her Mother.
Feeling deeply cozy in this eccentric darkly lit restaurant we send cheers to my darling Nan, who would have loved it here. It shared her soul somehow.
We started with some crispy thin bread coated in pizza toppings. I was going to pace myself but ate all my slice. Hubby and I nodded satisfaction to each other with cheeks full and mouths smiling.
Hubs couldn’t decide. There was a clam pasta (classic) but also a rich pasta dish with Italian sausage (Bono ordered this, loved it so much went on to order a second plate).
Hubby got both.
He asked if he could have a few chilli flakes on the side and in their hugely generous way a huge bowl of them arrived.
This sausage pasta was especially fantastic.
My Lasagne was the best I’d ever eaten. It used the secret family tomato sauce. The whole thing was deeply tasty and satisfying.
Greedily we ordered a couple of desserts.
A chocolate mousse cake… (yum yum)
and this. Their giant salted caramel eclair (Oooooo yes)
All around us tables were full. Not just families, but also groups of men. The food was so good. Besides, who can’t be charmed by little bunny feet dangling over your table.
1063 Wisconsin Avenue,
NW Washington, DC 20007
Now for a bit of Greek. Strictly speaking it has a mezze menu inspired by Turkish, Greek and Lebanese cuisines but we had recently watch ‘Big Fat Greek Wedding’ so Greek it was.
The interior was modern with a long bar and some nice outside seating.
We were sat by the fire and wasted no time in ordering hot puffed up pockets of pita bread with taramasalata so full of roe it was a mile away from supermarket versions.
This cocktail (with grapefruit juice with mint, lavender and lemon tea infused vodka) was super pretty with the vanilla sugar pressed into the rim. It was so drinkable, I ordered another counting it towards my 5 a day (fruits that is!).
These are crunchy Lavish chips with Sumac, served with cooling Raita.
Seared Halloumi cheese with dates, pomegranate, orange and mint. I loved this. Super fresh well balanced dish.
We ordered 3 mezze plates for our mains. The meat balls were unremarkable so I shall glaze over them. The grilled Octopus with that yellow slit pea puree, however, was divine. The spiced rubbed lamb kebab with tabouleh was also a good one.
These little desserts were a wonderful surprise.
Greek yogurt and apricots. The apricots were soaked in muscat. There was also an apricot sorbet along sides a vanilla yogurt cream and some pistachio powder. It was a zingy little number.
Turkish Delight – Walnut ice-cream, honey gelee, yogurt mousse, orange caramel sauce and caramelised pine-nuts. This was exciting to try. We loved how unique it was and it tasted great!
Chocolate Rose – Rose ice-cream, chocolate custard, spiced berry puree.
Waving goodbye to the cheery chef and thanking him for our gastronomic adventures (a thumbs up from hubby did it).
701 9th Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
Corner of 9th & G Streets
If you enjoy feeling very cultured and full bellied give these 3 restaurants a go.