indulging my desire to live the trendy life

Surprise!  Yesterday was my 23rd (!!!) birthday, and, in the magic that only birthdays bring, it was a most fabulous evening.  As it was a Tuesday, and all my BFFs are working ladies, we really couldn’t get too crazy.  So, I instead used my birthday as an excuse to sample one of the trendiest, most talked-about restaurants in the DC area: Rasika.  It’s a modern Indian establishment in charming Penn quarter, and has recieved many honors and praise in the few years it’s been open.  I had heard from a few coworkers that it took two plus weeks to get a reservation, and that the food was phenomenal, and the little elitist in me immediately needed to go. 

This was my first birthday as a real adult.  Last year, I was a college graduate, but I was coaching a summer league swim team, so my evil children all brought me balloons and cookies and espresso shots, so I felt more spoiled than I ever had in college.  (Their ulterior motive in hoping for an easier practice did nothing to dampen my sugar-induced high spirits.)  Yesterday, however, was literally a normal day: I got on the metro train and the other passengers were as bland as usual; my scheduled meetings went on exactly as planned; the sun wasn’t even shining for my lunch break.  I am not trying to whine and complain about how little attention I got on my birthday–I am merely noting the novelty of celebrating a birthday in the working world.  I feel as if a chapter in my book of birthdays has closed; a page has turned on the outrageous parties, songs and gifts, and a new phase has started fresh with classy dinners, “Happy Birthday” emails, and small tokens of friendship. 

I had a 6:15 reservation, so we donned our very best (our only?) day-to-night outfits and went there straight from work.  We had time for a quick drink at next door Oyamel (reminder to eat here in the future!  Awesome atmosphere.) before being seated at Rasika. 

The decor inside is sleek and very contemporary.  It reminded me of a really good movie soundtrack–it fits in with the film (or restaurant) so well that it augments the experience without you even noticing.  We were in a small secluded room that was bare of all decorations, but was great for a group of 23 year old girls who were getting drunk and loud from a nice sparkling rose. 

We started with their signature appetizer Palak Chaat, which even tentative Melissa enjoyed.  It was lightly fried spinach with all kinds of other things we couldn’t pronounce mixed in, and was airy and so melt-in-your-mouth delicious that I could have easily finished it entirely on my own. 

(I apologize for the lack of planning; all I had was my iPhone and a forgetfulness to document the meal.)

For our entrees, Michelle, Lis, and Melissa all got the Chicken Tikka Marsala, Allison got the Chicken Biryani, and I got the Andhra Vegetable Curry.  We discovered too late that barely any rice came with the dishes, so if you are a big rice-lover, definitely order extra (at $3 a bowl).  We got two naan, one regular and one garlic. 

Thoughts?  The marsala was delicious, if a little heavier and headier than I was expecting.

Allison’s biryani was by far the most unusual dish, as it came in a little pot with a seal of puff pastry keeping the steam inside.  The rice was infused with saffron, which was quite a treat for us, since it is generally out of our price range. 

Last but not least, my vegetable curry was good.  To be honest, if I’m going to order a vegetable dish as a main dish, I’d hope that the veggies would be substantial and delicious.  The ones I got, however, were just small carrots, a few pea pods, and some bay leaves.  I was really looking for some cauliflower or broccili, maybe some eggplant, or even just big hunks of carrots instead of dainty slivers.  That just might be my opinion though. 

Since I was celebrating a birthday, they brought me a festive dessert, with two little sugary cakes and a scoop of either saffron or pistacio ice cream (this was a point of contention between us).  The dessert was delicious and a literally and figuratively sweet way to finish off our dinner.

We packed up our stuff and made our way to Iron Horse, a funky bar by the Verizon Center that had a happy hour until 8.  I bought us all a thank-you round of beers, and we enjoyed an additional hour  arguing about who deserved to win American Idol.  It was an outstanding evening, one that did not try to be anything other than a very low-key birthday celebration and a gathering of friends.

michelle, allison, & lis

So what did we think of Rasika?  We loved the food, and the whole experience was great.  For the price and hassle of getting a reservation, however, we felt that we probably wouldn’t go back unless it was a very special occasion.  We’ve checked it off our DC to-do lists, and while it was a great night, we’re already looking ahead to the next thing.  (Friday night jazz at the sculpture garden?  Or perhaps a walking tour of DC’s haunted houses?)  Anyways, I had a great 23rd birthday, and am so thankful to have made such great new friends in just the few months I’ve been here.

me & melissa

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