Rarely do I think a restaurant lives up to its hype.
Rasika completely did.
We went last night for my boyfriend's birthday - the reservation was not difficult to get, and they confirmed with me earlier in the day and asked if I had any requests.
We arrive and right away our waiter was offering us cocktails (we're boring, not drinkers). We both got mango lassis...after a couple minutes of no lassi, the waiter informed us "the bartender is making a fresh batch, they'll be right out". And fresh they were! Not to sweet, perfectly tart, not too thick (which many can be). It was yummy. My only complaint...not enough! We both commented "this mango lassi will always be two sips too small!" because we wanted more.
The waiter was very attentive in offering up what the most popular dishes are. And of COURSE we had to eat the spinach (palak chaat). I could eat that every day. It was deeeeliscious.
We wanted 2 small plates to start out with, so along with the palak chaat we ordered the paneer shashlik...but that dish takes about 20 minutes to prepare in the grill. We were fine with that (and it was WELL worth the wait - the paneer was unlike anything I'd had before, and the dish had a lovely smokey flavor)...I do think it would have been helpful for there to be a note with it on the menu, however, that it takes a little longer to prepare. It came out with our second course.
For our mains, my boyfriend order the tandori salmon which he very much enjoyed - and I enjoyed that it didn't smell fishy (I hate when he eats salmon and tries to smooch!). In fact, it smelled more like cinnamon which was nice.
I ordered the Gobhi Mattar, which was not like I've had elsewhere in that it was not excessively greasy. Nice change of pace! with it, I ordered the lemon cashew rice but decided that either I could skip that next time and stick with the bread (we ordered the mixed basket). The rice was good, but there was not enough sauce with the dish to make it a base (if that makes sense!). I do think that they should throw in a scoop of basmati rice ($3 for just that seems a little high). The bread was fantastic, though, so I would definitely stick with just that next time.
My boyfriend also order the baigan bharta (smoked eggplant) which was more like a spread than a dish, but went very well with the bread. He was initially going to order that for a main (the large one), but was glad he didn't. It's definitely more like a spread than something you spoon on to a plate. I am not a huge eggplant fan, but it was very good and not overly smokey.
We love spicy food and both agreed that while the dishes we ordered weren't spicy, they were spiced and flavorful to the extent where we didn't miss the heat.
We did not try dessert (I threw him a Hello, Cupcake covered surprise party after dinner instead). The desserts didn't sound that interesting, though, but I'd go for it next time.
The waiter was attentive but gave us our space, and we had a nice corner table near the front so the noise wasn't THAT noticeable...though I could see it being an issue in the main area. Also, for the quality and amount of food coupled with the lovely service, I found the price to be a very good value. Not an every other week kind of value, but definitely more regular than I thought it could be.
I am very much looking forward to going back.
And on our way back to the metro, passing Oyamel, I had to laugh at the contrast between our two experiences.