Sadly, I did not see any national monuments or museums while I was in D.C. last week. In my defense it was really cold! Unseasonably so. Too chilly to be wandering around without layers, and I'm a carry-on-only kind of traveler. I'll save the sightseeing for next time, once I assemble a new list of restaurants to try out there.
I did check out three places during Restaurant Week last week:
Rasika - The tawa baingan haunts me. Slices of tender eggplant layered with fluffy spiced potato, served over a tangy and fragrant peanut sauce with a touch of tamarind. It's only January and I'm saying this could go down as my favorite entree of 2010. The palak chaat is a pile of crispy, flash-fried spinach drizzled with savory-sweet sauces. Each bite just melts in your mouth. The dal makhani was hands-down the best I've ever had, a perfect balance of buttery and spicy. It was made even better with a side of fresh, hot naan drizzled with truffle oil. The nutty fig kulfi failed to bowl me over -- I like my Indian desserts a little creamier and fruitier -- but my bartender Brad gets serious snaps for his mango cosmopolitans. Wow. I need to teach that recipe to a few of my barkeeps here. Rasika is sexy but cozy, with an inventive, contemporary Indian menu.
Co Co. Sala - They were only serving the Restaurant Week menu, which was fine because they were considerate with the vegetarian options. For some reason, I don't remember the tomato croustade amuse bouche. I mean, I remember that I ate it but I don't remember if I liked it or not. I'm sure it was great and I was just too distracted by my Co Co Jito to pay attention. The cocktail is made with chocolate-infused vodka instead of rum, then blended with the requisite muddled lime, mint, sugar and splash of soda. Some dark chocolate curls are dropped on top -- Co Co. Sala is a chocolate-inspired restaurant, right down to the decor -- and there it is: the Co Co Jito. I was apprehensive at first, but after the first sip it was clear they know what they're doing over there. My dinner's highlight was actually the salad; peppery arugula tossed with fresh orange, chewy dates, thin slices of apple and shaved manchego cheese. The thick coffee vinaigrette was an unexpected replacement for a standard balsamic reduction, but totally brought it all together. No surprise that the desserts were to die for: a platter of caramel-centric treats included an almond-apple tart, caramel corn gelato, toffee praline and a caramel-cinnamon "shooter." The chocolate version had a malted milk "shooter," bananas foster, a fudgy mini cupcake and chocolate-peanut butter ice cream. Incredible.
Asia Nine - I'm gonna go ahead and obey Thumper's Rule here and not say too much about Asia Nine. The vegetarian menu options are actually vegetarian and not sketchy, fish-saucy vegetarian, so that was a plus. But the green curry could've used a lot more flavor (not to mention heat, since it was marked with 2-stars) and the spring rolls were as ho-hum as anything store-bought.* The sake selection was decent and the dining room and raised sushi bar were beautifully decorated. Except for the fake plastic tea lights. I really hate those things. Our server either curled up in the kitchen and died or just forgot about us after the entrees were delivered. Asia Nine's only redemption of the evening was another server who stopped by the table to tell me how pretty I was. What can I say, it's that easy.*With the exception, of course, of Lotus egg rolls, which are perfectly delicious.