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The Spot: RAS Restaurant & Lounge, 4809 Georgia Avenue NW, (202) 291-2096
The Cuisine: Ethiopian, Caribbean, Jamaican
The Go-To Dishes: Bake and shark, gouda grits
The Scoop: About a month ago, I had stumbled across an article on Thrillist about a new place in Petworth called RAS. It’s a Rastafarian/Ethiopian themed restaurant combining flavors from Africa and the Caribbean.
It recently came to my attention that, as part of RAS’s menu, the joint serves a dish called bake and shark, which is deep-fried shark stuffed into fried bread and topped with lettuce, tomato, and mango chutney. Bake and shark is a Trinidadian dish, served from little huts on the island’s beaches. So when I found out that I don’t need to fly to the Caribbean to try it, I grabbed my coat and raced to RAS before Andrew Zimmern could beat me to it.
The bake and shark aside, RAS is actually a pretty cool joint itself. The place is still in the process of acquiring a liquor license, which will certainly help business at the built-in bar, not to mention the space for open mike and live reggae music. RAS was pretty empty when I walked in on a weekday evening, but my friendly waitress Mary informed me that the crowds differ by the day.
The only real problem was that I wanted to order more than just the bake and shark after checking out the menu. But Mary put my worries to rest and offered to make a combination plate of Jamaican jerk chicken along with Ethiopian lamb tibs on injera. I also asked for a side of gouda grits and a Jamaican ginger beer (though a Red Stripe would have been a way better option, alas).
Without any reservations, I can say that the bake and shark was everything I wanted and more. The deep-fried shark meat was full of flavor and the mango chutney served as the perfect complement. It becomes a bit of a mess toward the end, as the fried batter begins to fall apart, but it’s just as good with a fork.
The other plates were either hit or miss. The lamb tibs were tasty, but nowhere near as juicy as those made by RAS’s Ethiopian counterparts along 9th Street NW. The Jamaican jerk chicken seemed subpar, since it came with a container of jerk sauce on the side, which could have used a bit more kick. However, the gouda grits were absolutely excellent and made for a terrific side dish.
The Verdict: RAS is a great addition to a string of innovative new spots up along Georgia Avenue. The bake and shark is an absolute must and an interesting eat to say the least. But you can definitely find better Ethiopian and Jamaican options throughout the city.