Fine dining is a time period that doesn’t carry a lot which means anymore, besides which you’ll be spending lots of money. You can wear denim to a $1,2 hundred dinner at Minibar. Or you can put on your night satisfactory and cut up a Châteaubriand at L’Auberge Chez François. Pick your fancy (or not-fancy) flavor.
But 20 years in the past, you knew exactly what you have been getting while you heard the ones two phrases. Truffles, Champagne, and caviar—no longer a chef’s tasting-menu riff on an again-yard burger—have been the hallmarks of luxurious. This is the realm where downtown DC’s three-month-antique Punjab Grill dwells. There’s a pansy in your cocktail. You can add Petrossian Shassetra caviar on your tawa-griddled scallops. A filament of gold leaf floats atop a rustic, assertively spiced leg of lamb. Whether all that excites you or bores you is a matter of taste. Hey, the organization of suit-clad bros in the corner knocking returned bottles of Cab appeared robust thrilled.
The eating room is the primary US offshoot of a restaurant brand that has locations in Singapore and in the Ritz-Carlton in Abu Dhabi and New Delhi. The DC commencing has been a lavish, laborious technique for proprietor Karan Singh, an aviation government who’s additionally behind the fast-informal American Tandoor in Tysons. Punjab is known for its greater-is-extra aesthetic, and—as at the maharaja palaces of India’s vintage princely states—the attention to detail is lovely: Even the bussers and meals runners have meticulously tailor-made uniforms. The ice on your rum drink might be imprinted with a lion’s head, the vicinity’s emblem.
One of the eating place’s main speaking factors is that the entire factory was built in India and shipped right here, piece via piece—from the brass tiles inside the restroom to an intricately carved, thirteen, a 000-pound slab of sandstone through the bar. When you stroll in the door, peek into the private room on your left. It’s Singh’s most beautiful showpiece, inlaid floor to ceiling with tiny shards of mirror that glitter towards the glow of languidly dripping cathedral candles. (Want to have dinner there yourself? The privilege, which includes custom menus, Hermès china, and a non-compulsory sitar player, starts offevolved at $2,000.)
For the rest folks, there’s the normal dinner menu. Singh recruited chef Jassi Bindra, a Punjab local who last cooked in San Francisco, to oversee the kitchen, despite the fact that no longer quite, the owner offers masses of input. (That gold leaf at the lamb turned into all him.) The duo diverges from many different region Indian eating places through deep-diving right into a single region’s cuisine. Punjab, inside the northwest of the subcontinent, is thought for its wealthy curries, kaleidoscopic vegetarian dishes, and superb bread.
Some dishes, such as a tuna tartare that sings with ginger, use the cuisine as a starting point. A lush bulb of burrata goes well with tangy marinated tomatoes and spiced eggplant, and a pink curry tastes like butter hen by means of manner of Thailand, thanks to kaffir-lime leaves and lemongrass. Golgappas, the famously messy avenue food that involves spiced water and semolina crisps, are reimagined with a filling of avocado and Granny Smith apple, then crowned with spherified passionfruit juice or a sparkling raspberry. Each is a firework of a bite. Still, Bindra doesn’t quite persuade me that chana masala, the chickpea stew, is advanced while spun into hummus. Or that an aggregate of cremini mushrooms and ghee works as a stiff pâté.
Graze heavily inside the menu’s middle phase, referred to as Lion’s Share—it’s a mixture of big and small plates that don’t curry. Tiger prawns emerge juicy and flame-licked from the tandoor. They’re lovable on their personal, thanks to marinades—one with lemon, turmeric, and caraway seeds, the following with yogurt—or even higher whilst you swipe them via a foam conjured from coconutty moilee sauce and a pepper-tomato jam. Bindra also gives three extremely good takes on hen tikka: one conventional; one marinated in cream, cheese, and nuts; and one pickled and served with pineapple chutney.