Thursday, August 08, 2013

President Obama, First Lady Have Belated Birthday Dinner At DC's 'Rasika' Restaurant

The First Couple enjoys modern Indian cuisine during first DC dining excursion since Valentine's Day...
Washington, DC - President Barack Obama marked his 52nd birthday last Sunday, August 4th with an intimate gathering at Camp David for family and friends.  But he had more partying to do, and on Thursday evening the President celebrated his birthday again with First Lady Michelle Obama, enjoying a leisurely 2 1/2-hour dinner at the stylish Rasika, which specializes in modern Indian cuisine. 

"The President and First Lady are going out to dinner to celebrate his birthday," a White House official said.  Last January, the First Couple dined at Georgetown's Cafe Milano to celebrate Mrs. Obama's 49th birthday.

The President wore a dark suit and Mrs. Obama was clad in a short black cocktail dress as they departed the White House by motorcade at 6:40 PM for the fete at the West End eatery, hours after the President welcomed the Prime Minister of Greece to the White House.  

The dinner was the First Couple's maiden visit together to Rasika, but Mrs. Obama has previously dined there without her husband.  Opened in 2005 by New Delhi-born Ashok Bajaj, the eatery is a hotspot for Washington powerbrokers and routinely makes the cut on local 'Best Of' lists.  The extensive dinner menu showcases Tawa (griddle), Sigri (open barbeque), Tandoori and regional dishes served Tapas-style on small plates.  

Other patrons were in the restaurant as the President and Mrs. Obama enjoyed their feast  in a softly lit room decorated in blue and tan tones, with Secret Service monitoring the action.

The celebration was the First Couple's first dinner outing since Valentine's Day last February, when the President escorted his wife to a romantic evening at chef José Andrés' minibar restaurant in Penn Quarter. 

By the time the President and Mrs. Obama finished at Rasika at about 9:10 PM, a large crowd had gathered outside the restaurant on New Hampshire Avenue NW, attracted by word on Twitter as well as street closures and a heavy police presence.  

The President and Mrs. Obama motorcaded back to the White House without incident, and there was no further comment from officials about the dinner.  The press pool was held far from the action at a different restaurant as the First Couple had their evening out.

The celebration was Mrs. Obama's second known dining excursion in DC this week.  On Tuesday, Aug. 6, the First Lady had lunch at DC's Del Campo restaurant, joined by the President's half-sister Maya Soetoro-Ng and her husband Konrad Ng.  The President was in Los Angeles, CA, on Tuesday evening, where he had his own private dinner with movie mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg, a longtime friend and major fundraiser.

There will be more dining adventures in the week ahead when the President and First Family relax on Martha's Vineyard for their annual summer vacation, where Mr. Obama currently has no public events scheduled.  They will arrive in Massachusetts on Saturday.  But before that, on Friday, the President will hold a 3:00 PM news conference at the White House.

Info:  Rasika has two locations in the District.  Rasika West End is at 1190 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington, DC, 20037.  Phone:  202.466.2500.

*Photo by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama