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

photo of Jennifer Hughes

Excerpt from a press release:

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

photo of Jennifer Hughes

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

“However, like many of our peers in the hospitality industry, we have taken some time during the pandemic to step back and reevaluate our offerings and create something that is specifically tailored to the DC market with Rania. We hope Rania will build on the solid foundation we’ve already created, but allow us to take it to the next level and have a little more fun, both culinary and customer experience.
Rania will be both sophisticated and playful, with an international flair. Guests can expect a sultry candlelit ambiance and DJ-curated playlists of Middle Eastern and Indian rhythm tracks that entertain all night long.

photo of Jennifer Hughes

“Above all, we want Rania to be the first destination that comes to mind for lively nights out on the town,” says Singh. “It’s not meant to be a stuffy fine dining experience, but rather energetic and seductive, pairing beautiful food and cocktails with a glamorous scene.”

photo by Greg Powers

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

Though inventive and modern, Shetty’s approach is at its core a tribute to centuries-old culinary traditions, rich flavors and spices, and diverse agricultural regions across India. Shetty sourced rare spices and ingredients for each menu offering, such as chili spice blends from Delhi and special garlic blends from Maharashtra.

photo by Greg Powers

Rania will offer guests a three-course ($75) or four-course ($90) prix-fixe menu, with the option to add wine pairings and unlimited cocktails. An a la carte menu will be available at the expansive Sundowner Bar, and a Chef’s Tasting Menu ($125) will debut soon. 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, Tukku Tomato and Shisito Peppers
[second course]
Ambarsari cod with ramp chutney and ajwain powder [second course]
Homemade paneer with peas and pecorino [entree course]
Beef Short Ribs with Saffron Nihari, Charred Broccoli Rabe and Marinated Mustard [entree
Braised lamb shank with spinach, coconut mousse, ghoda masala and mustard frills
[entree course]

Leading Rania’s wine program is April Busch, formerly Atera, two Michelin stars. “There is a misconception that wine doesn’t go well with Indian cuisine. Our main goal with the wine program is to counter this notion and emphasize that wine can and should be paired with Indian cuisine, just as it would in any other restaurant. It takes a bit more creativity, but it’s also a lot of fun.

When designing the wine list, Busch curated a diverse selection of labels knowing that Indian cuisine encompasses a wide range of spices and flavors. “The wines we like tend to have good fruit structure, lower alcohol levels and high acidity. Also, we really try to work with small family wineries and focus on natural and biodynamic producers. adds Busch.

photo by Greg Powers

The approach to the cocktail program emphasizes classic cocktails with an Indian twist, contrasting both deliciously familiar and less familiar flavor profiles. Elements such as spices imported directly from India by Chef Shettty’s mother, fruit sourced from local vendors, and foreign spirits selected for their unique flavor profiles take center stage. Highlights of the cocktail menu include:

Rania with Jin Jiji Gin, Zirbenz, Pine Liqueur, Lime, Tea Cordial
Old Monk Rum Spasht, citrus fruits, spiced milk, red wine foam
Pineapple Kolada with spiced rum blend, kaffir coconut cream, zerish cordial, sour
Desi Gimlet with Ketel One yogurt, dry vermouth, lime, butter syrup, orange bitters

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

Throughout the restaurant, fretwork in precious wood and brass, inlays of marble, Indian sandstone, friezes of mother-of-pearl and sculpted stone 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 dining experience at the dining table. chef who will offer a selection of off-menu items. Reservations for this shared experience will be offered for individuals or small groups, with the option to fully reserve the space for groups of 8 or more. This experiment will begin in the coming weeks.

Rania will be open for dinner service from Tuesday to Sunday. Reservations are strongly encouraged and can be made here. Rania accepts dates at the Sundowner bar and subject to availability.

Freeda S. Scott