The waiting is almost over, folks. Rasika West End (1177 22nd St. NW) is scheduled to officially open on March 30, and very limited reservations are available beginning March 23. When the new Rasika location opens, the original four-star Indian restaurant will adopt a different name, Rasika Penn Quarter.
The interior of the Martin Vahtra-designed space bears no similarity to its more demure older sibling. Diners will immediately notice the space’s most dominant feature: A rippling interpretation of India’s native banyan tree springs from a support column and envelops the space with overhead pockets of warm magenta lighting. The banquettes are a shade between cool cerulean and turquoise; combined, the palette recalls Holi, the Hindu festival of colors.
Moving beyond the dining room yields one of the restaurant’s most surprising rooms: a dining nook/private banquet area that resembles a small study. Actual (non leather-bound, unfortunately) books line the walls — I spied a copy of Howard Kurtz’s “Spin Cycle” in there — and the only thing missing from the experience is the smell of rich mahogany. Restaurateur Ashok Bajaj described his ambitions for the space as a place diners will find “soothing to my eyes and to my being.”
The menu offers many of the favorites — palak chaat, black cod — that Rasika’s regulars will expect from chef Vikram Sunderam. But the addition of chef de cuisine Manish Tyagi promises a few new options, including a section of small plates and Northern Indian dori kebabs. The Gibson’s Julia Ebell will oversee the cocktails: Expect lots of infused vodkas and gins heavy on cardamom and saffron.
See more photos after the jump.