Sunday, June 24, 2012

Rasika West End - Vikram Sunderam Heats It Up In The Basement

Rasika West End
1190 New Hampshire Avenue, NW
                                                             Washington, DC 20037

Once again, I talked my friends into joining me for dinner at a chef's table.  This one was in the basement.  It's very private and has a view of the kitchen action. 
Here are the lovely ladies all dolled up at the bar at Rasika West End.  From left to right we have Cheryl, Sindhu, and Allison.  These same ladies and their other halves are always ready to humor me when it's time to dine.
Interestingly, Sindhu had her wedding reception at The Bombay Club, one of Ashok Bajaj's other restaurants, ten years ago.  Many of the same employees were present this night.  She is the author of the blog Four Courses and will be posting about this dinner as well.  She's a writer, so I'm sure she'll have better narrative.  Check it out!
There is no better way to begin a grand tasting menu than some rose bubbly.  This particular one was Conde de Subirats, Cava Brut Rosé, NV, Catalonia, Spain. 
 We were not the first group to dine at the chef's table, but we were apparently the first group that they had created a tasting menu with wine pairings for. 
 This is the Indian street-food version of nachos. Each of the six courses had two or three components to it, so in all there were 18 or so items to taste.

 Avocado and banana
 Curried sweet potato with yogurt sauce
 The ubiquitous Palak Chat.  Always awesome.
 These scallops were nicely done with a spicy curry dusting. For this course we moved on to Vassiliou, "Retsina of Attica", Savatiano, NV, Attica, Greece
 Chicken kabobs.  Simple, but perfect.
 This is Simon Stilwell, our guide for the evening, showing us how to hyper-decant some Telmo Rodriguez, "Gabo do Xil", Godello, 2007 Valdeorras, Spain.  He brought it to us freshly uncorked and discussed the notes behind the wine for a little before-and-after comparison.  It was very cool.
 Sindhu and I were obviously excited about something here, but I can't seem to remember what it was.  These folks are always great fun to dine with. 
 This is the Crab Pepper Masala with filo pastry, hot chili pepper, and balsamic glaze.  Sweet, hot, and delightful.
 Crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside with a little yellow curry for flavor.  Once again, simple, but expertly executed.
 This Lamb Kathi Roll was very nice.  It was served with a mint chutney.
 The curries were awesome.  We enjoyed a Shina's Estate, "The Guilty", Shiraz, 2008 Victoria, Australia with this course.  Perfectly matched flavors and a great looking label as well.
Vikram is a master of the black sea bass.  If you haven't had the pleasure of trying his preparations I highly recommend them.  The quinoa served on the side had some great heat to it.  The wine for this course was Chateau D'Escalans, "Whispering Angel", Grenache Rose, 2011 Cotes de Provence, France.
Earlier in the meal I had joked with Vikram about requiring pork, so he whipped us up a couple of spicy pork chops.  We were already full to bursting by this point, so I don't think anyone but me tried them.  They were excellent.  They made it home with me in the goody-bag.
 These were very good.  Apple Jelebi with cardamom ice cream. With this course we had Heinz Eifel, Eiswein, 2009 Rheinhessen, Germany. 
 This was the Mango Kulfi.  Kind of like popsicles, but better.
Here's a shot of Executive Chef Vikram Suderam from when he visited me at work.
The chef de cuisine, Manish Tyagi works hard to make things perfect here.

Overall, a very good experience.  Don't tell Ashok this, but this was one of the best bang-for-the-buck tasting menus I've had the pleasure of trying.  The wine pairings were spot-on, and the service was impeccable. 
Thanks for reading folks.  Be sure to check out Sindhu's blog post on Four Courses as well.
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