Credit: Carole Sugarman

The people: Chef-owner Ashish Alfred, 27, a graduate of Rockville’s Magruder High School and the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan, interned with some of the Big Apple’s top chefs (including Daniel Boulud and Mario Batali). He grew up eating Indian food.

The place: The old Tragara restaurant underwent a thoroughly modern makeover, with the addition of gray and black seating; textured, paneled walls and a sparkly quartz bar that runs down the middle of room, separating the dining area in two. Nonetheless, the redo lacks a feeling of place; it just seems like a cavernous room with a bunch of tables. And the big chunk of dead space near the entrance doesn’t help.  


The food: Interesting and inventive, the menu fuses modern American dishes with Indian and French techniques and ingredients. The result is often a lighter, more subtle version of Indian cuisine.

It’s easy to fill up on the complimentary homemade naan, cooked until crackly in a tandoor oven and swiped with a vibrant herb butter of cilantro, thyme and rosemary. Among the best appetizers are the meaty, must-order coriander-spiced and Sriracha-glazed pork “wings” (no, pigs can’t fly; this is their shanks); the burrata mozzarella, served with charred onion, tamarind and mint chutney; and a lovely tuna tartare, silken diced fish studded with pine nuts. For main courses, don’t miss the brined Tandoori pork chop—assertively spiced on the outside, juicy on the inside, it goes well with the accompanying crushed sweet potatoes and earthy dandelion greens. Side dishes are worth a go—I like Alfred’s take on palak paneer, his Tandoori grilled corn on the cob, and the four-cheese macaroni and cheese strewn with fresh spinach leaves. At times, however, the kitchen doesn’t hit the proper doneness: the lunchtime garam masala buttermilk fried chicken breast and the steak in the naan wrap were both dry and overcooked, while the key players in the beet salad were hard and undercooked.



The bottom line: Promising effort by young, first-time chef-owner introducing some intriguing new dishes to Bethesda. Atmosphere and service need work to make it conducive for fine dining; alternately, a more casual version of the concept might be a safer, timelier bet.


4935 Cordell Ave., Bethesda, 301-951-4935,, entrée prices $18 to $36.