Sunday, April 5, 2009


It should come as no surprise that I am often called upon to choose restaurants. Be it a planned get together with dozens of e-mails flying around or a frantic last minute call from someone who is going through early-onset dating, I enjoy matching establishments to occasions, big and small. My biggest challenge came from O. last fall: I had to figure out a place based on location, cuisine, price range, conduciveness to subsequent dates and lack of emotional baggage. Last week a group of friends and I got together to celebrate many things: the wonder that is people getting all that they give and receiving all they deserve, the courage to keep hope and faith, and, at a more concrete level, a birthday, a car, and an engagement. The bride-elect was in the mood for Indian, so we headed out to Indique in Cleveland Park.

Indique, while less of an exercise in modern decor than Rasika, steers clear of the ornate, opting for white walls with hints of lattice work, its signature burnt orange present in ramekins and the menus, and modern furniture. The downstairs lounge area has a picture window ideal for people watching. The courtyard distribution of the second floor allows for the noise level to be kept to a minimum, and the lighting is soft, aided by electrical candles at every table.

There are some fun cocktails on the menu - my favorite is the sparkling wine/lychee combo, but on this occasion we stuck to water, which the very attentive staff kept refilling. The most striking feature of the menu at Indique is that, by design and cuisine (a focus on the South, as opposed to the north, of India) the kitchen dials down the spice. I like hot food very much, but enjoy taking a break to experience more subtle flavors that tie India to other regional cuisines such as Sri Lanka. We decided to share 3 entrees for the 4 of us, and ordered naan and garlic naan to go with our entrées. The bread was just dense enough, with the fresh garlic giving it a buttery texture. Something I always order at Indique is the Chicken Appam, a thick, spongy crepe made out of fermented rice similar in texture (but not size) to the bread you get with Ethiopean food. The taste is acidic, complemented by the coconut milk in which the chicken is cooked. The overall effect is sweet, with the stew seeping into the crepe without breaking it down. Our second choice was the Lamb Rogan Josh a soupy curry with spices and tomatoes that is earthy and not overly hot. The rice that came with it brought a starch to the softness of the lamb. My favorite of the evening was the Lucknowi Pathar Ka Gosht, a scallop of veal served with pepper sauce, orange salsa and grilled tomato. I had never tried it before, but it made for a perfect spring dish - tender, bright, and sweet. The portions aren't too big, and had we not all wanted to try everything we could have very well ordered 4 individual ones.

The staff did not mind when we lingered - though Indique feels like a neighborhood place, there was a lot of late-night dining going on, even for a Thursday night. For dessert we spilt a Gulab Jamoon- omnipresent in many Indian menus - but this particular version of the milk solids glazed in syrup and flavored with cardamom is one of the best I have ever tried in DC. The side of mango ice cream plays along well with the intense sweetness of the dough, cutting it with the tartness of a yogurt.

Not everything about Indique feels unique, but it certainly makes for a fantastic meal.

Indique view menu
3512 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20008
Indique on Urbanspoon

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