Done deal: Rasika West End
For his next act, Ashok Bajaj will be extending one of his most popular brands in a neighborhood that until now has escaped his menus. The prolific restaurateur, who just signed a lease for a seventh establishment at 1177 22nd St. NW, hopes to fill it with Rasika West End by February 2012.
The idea for a second modern Indian restaurant came to him in part from informal surveys Bajaj says he conducted of his customers at Ardeo + Bardeo, Bibiana, the Bombay Club, the Oval Room, 701 and the original Rasika in Penn Quarter. The last restaurant was a tough reservation, patrons shared, and hard on the ears.
Part of a new condominium project called 22 West, the 5,900-square foot Rasika West End will be about the same size as its sibling (140 seats, including three private dining rooms). Like the original, it will be overseen by executive chef Vikram Sunderam.
The major difference between the two: "A bigger kitchen will allow us to experiment" more in the West End, says Bajaj, who expects to find a dedicated chef in Bombay or London. His next Indian dining room will also be "livelier," he promises, "but not so you have to raise your voice."
The ink on the lease for another Rasika is barely set, but Bajaj, a recent guest on my online chat, is already thinking about opening a second Italian eatery. Bibiana was, after all, his only other candidate for the West End spot.
| February 22, 2011; 2:45 PM ET
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