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So says GQ magazine, which runs down the list of D.C. heavyweights in its November issue. Most of the folks on the list are pols or the power behind pols or the eyes watching pols. Ashok Bajaj makes the cut, apparently, because he feeds the pols and treats them all with respect.
Bajaj tells GQ a few of his rules for navigating the political waters in this town:
- Know Your Client. “You can feel the temperature of the person,” he says. Last winter, with our economy teetering, that meant giving Geithner the privacy of a corner table when he dined alone at the Bombay Club but seating the more sociable Bernanke “in the thick of things” when he took his wife to dinner at the Oval Room.
- Keep Lunch Quick. It’s an endangered meal in a city crowded with workaholics. So Bajaj has a simple directive for his staff: “Get the check on the table in fifty-nine minutes.”
- Be Loyal. Political fortunes change like the weather, but Bajaj treats his best customers the same, no matter their status. “Just because they’re out of grace for now, it doesn’t mean they always will be.”
It’s been quite a year for Bajaj. First, his Rasika chef Vikram Sunderam was nominated for a James Beard Award. Bajaj himself was a semi-finalist in the Beard’s Outstanding Restaurateur category (and finished second in CP‘s Best Restaurateur category). In September, the owner debuted his seventh restaurant in D.C., Bibiana, his first Italian eatery, and just today, he learned that Rasika will earn four stars from Tom Sietsema‘s next Dining Guide, due out Thursday.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery