“Rania, from the team behind Punjab Grill, will open on Tuesday” – PoPville

2022-05-28 10:34:17 By : Mr. John Zhang

“Rania, from the team behind Punjab Grill, will open on Tuesday, May 31 as a daring new iteration from the brand at 427 11th Street NW. Derived from the word “Queen” in Hindi and Sanskrit, Rania will be a lively destination for elevated dining in the Nation’s Capital, with a continued goal of breaking free from stereotypes of what Indian cuisine is and can be.

“We are very proud of what we created over a short period of time with Punjab Grill, and are grateful for the loyal support we’ve received since day one,” says owner Karan Singh.

“However, like many of our peers in hospitality, we took some time during the pandemic to step back and reevaluate our offerings and create something that is specifically tailored for the D.C. market with Rania. Our hope is that Rania will build off the strong foundation we’ve already created, but allow us to take things to the next level and have a bit more fun–both from a culinary and guest-experience perspective.” Rania will be both sophisticated and playful, with an international flare. Guests can expect a sultry, candle-lit ambiance and DJ-curated playlists of rhythmic Middle Eastern and Indian tracks that entertain into the night.

“Above all else, we want Rania to be the first destination that comes to mind for lively nights out on the town,” says Singh. “This is not meant to be a stuffy fine dining experience, but rather, one that is energetic and alluring–coupling beautiful food and cocktails with a glamorous scene.”

Led by Executive Chef Chetan Shetty–formerly of the critically acclaimed Indian Accent in New York and Delhi (#22 on the prestigious 2022 Asia’s 50 Best list)–Rania will introduce guests to a new and unexpected approach to Indian cuisine, eschewing widely known standbys associated with Indian food, such as butter chicken.

While inventive and modern, Shetty’s approach at its core is an homage to the time-honored culinary traditions, rich flavors and spices, and agriculturally diverse regions across the whole of India. Shetty has sourced rare spices and ingredients for each menu offering–such as chile spice blends from Delhi and special garlic blends from Maharashtra.

Rania will offer guests a prix-fixe menu of either three courses ($75) or four courses ($90), with the option to add wine pairings and cocktails as desired. An a la carte menu will be available at the expansive Sundowner Bar, and a Chef’s Tasting menu ($125) will soon debut. Menu highlights include:

Shiso Leaf Chaat with white pea ragda, green mango and mint [first course] Shrimp Koliwada with fennel and mango chutney [first course] Chana Masala Panisse with wild ramp chutney, tomato tukku and shisito peppers [second course] Ambarsari Cod with ramp chutney and ajwain powder [second course] House-Made Paneer with spring peas and pecorino [entree course] Beef Short Ribs with saffron nihari, charred broccoli rabe and pickled mustard [entree course] Braised Lamb Shank with spinach, coconut foam, ghoda masala and mustard frills [entree course]

Leading the wine program at Rania is April Busch, previously of two-Michelin star Atera. “There is a preconceived notion that wine does not pair well with Indian food. Our overarching goal with the wine program is to counter this notion and highlight that wine can and should be paired with Indian food, just the way it would at any other restaurant. It requires a little more creativity, but it is also a lot of fun.”

In designing the wine list, Busch curated a diverse selection of labels with the understanding that Indian food encompasses a vast array of spices and flavors. “Wines we like tend to have good fruit structure, lower alcohol levels and great acidity. In addition, we are really trying to work with small family owned and run wineries and focus on natural and biodynamic producers.” adds Busch.

The approach to the cocktail program emphasizes classic cocktails with an Indian twist–contrasting both delightfully familiar and not-so-familiar flavor profiles. Elements like spices imported directly from India by chef Shettty’s mother, fruit purchased from local vendors, and foreign spirits selected for their unique flavor profiles take the stage. Cocktail menu highlights include:

Rania with Jin Jiji Gin, Zirbenz, pine liqueur, lime, tea cordial Spasht with Old Monk Rum, citrus, spiced milk, red wine foam Ananas Kolada with spiced rum blend, kaffir coconut cream, zerish cordial, sour pineapple Desi Gimlet with yogurt Ketel One, dry vermouth, lime, butter syrup, orange bitters

The design of Rania can be attributed to Amit Krishn Gulati, co-founder of Incubis (one of India’s leading architecture design companies) and Grupo7 Architecture + Interiors in D.C. Jaipur-based designer Ayush Kasliwal worked with master craftsmen to meticulously build the restaurant’s interior in India and then ship it to the United States where it was painstakingly reassembled.

Throughout the restaurant, hand-finished fretwork in fine woods and brass, inlays with marble, Indian sandstone, and mother-of-pearl and carved stone friezes set the tone.

The restaurant’s magical 10-seat ‘Sheesh Mahal’ or palace-of-mirrors–a room enveloped in a cocoon of 150,000 individually handcrafted convex mirrors–serves as the backdrop for a 10-seat collaborative Chef’s Table dining experience which will feature a selection of off-menu items. Reservations for this communal experience will be offered for individuals or small groups, with the option to fully reserve the space for parties of 8 or more. This experience will debut in the coming weeks.

Rania will be open for dinner service Tuesday through Sunday. Reservations are strongly encouraged and can be made here. Rania accepts walk-ins at the Sundowner Bar and as availability allows.

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