Restaurateur Ashok Bajaj reopens Rasika in Penn Quarter tonight after a five-day closure and a nearly half a million dollar renovation.
The nearly 10-year-old restaurant has all new furniture, Venetian patterned fabrics, artichoke-shaped light fixtures from London, and more mirrors on the walls. The beaded wall separating the main dining from from the lounge remains, as do some of the Indian paintings. The tables in the lounge are now slightly taller so diners don’t need to bend down to eat. British designer Harry Gregory also gave the private dining room a makeover with a unique orange, patterned wallpaper (see below)—some of which was mysteriously stolen, leaving one of the walls Bajaj had planned to cover blank for now.
One of the biggest changes, however, is something you’ll hear but not see: sound-absorbing walls and ceilings. While diners wanted a loud, happening restaurant when Bajaj first opened Rasika, he says the clientele now prefers a less noisy environment.
Bajaj, chef Vikram Sunderam, and the restaurant’s managers went through 10 years worth of menus to decide which old dishes to bring back and which new ones to add. The more than a dozen additions include a lobster hot pot with cashew nut, chili flakes, and saffron as well as Parsi crab cakes with onion, garlic, ginger, and spicy beet sauce. Another new specialty is Gujarati lasagna, a dish that Sunderam made specifically for a visit from the prime minister of India. “We were asked to create a dish that reflects America, reflects India,” Bajaj says. “We used all ingredients from his state.”
Y&H wrote more extensively about the renovation of Rasika and other renovations in last week’s print column. Read that here.
“It’s like wearing a new suit,” Bajaj said of renovations. “It makes you feel good.”
Take a virtual tour of the new space below.
Photos by Jessica Sidman