The family that owns Sunset Wine & Spirits in Bloomingdale has recently opened an Indian restaurant next-door that shows off its mix of Punjabi roots and American tastes.
In late April, Glassey (1625 First Street NW, Unit A) started selling a limited menu for takeout and delivery that lists North Indian staples like samosas, butter chicken, biryani, and kathi rolls alongside chicken tikka burgers and masala fries.
Taj Sohal, 22, is running the restaurant with her mother, Anju Gill, leading the kitchen. The first-time restaurant owners are serving the type of American “fusion” dishes that Gill used to make to get her kids to try Indian flavors when they were growing up. Gill has previously provided catering and run pop-up food stalls out of the family liquor store.
A bounty of sabzis, or vegetable-based dishes, range from palak paneer (spinach and cheese) to channa (chickpea) masala and “bangin” bartha, a roasted spiced eggplant dish. All vegetarian dishes can be made vegan upon request.
Kathi rolls, a popular street food, are filled with potatoes, paneer, or chicken. Jiya’s tiffin, which refers to light, tea-time meal, includes the favorites for Sohal’s youn sister: chicken or paneer kebabs, chickpeas, rice, and mint chutney.
Burgers built on chicken tikka or potato tikki patties have also been popular. Topped with mint chutney and a cabbage-onion mix, they’re reminiscent of “fast food” snacks found in India. Although Sohal was nervous about offering fusion dishes, they have sold well, especially the fries topped with lump crab meat in a tandoori sauce.
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Washington City Paper first reported about Glassey in August 2018. After several delays, the restaurant intended to have a grand opening in March, but the coronavirus crisis put that on hold. The family decided to open for takeout and delivery during a dine-in ban because Sohal wanted to “see the light in a crappy situation” and “take this is as an opportunity to train employees and fine tune road bumps that can now happen behind the scenes.”
Every restaurant that’s open is struggling to survive with reduced sales right now. In a normal situation, Sohal says, “people are more likely to leave their neighborhoods and try something new.” So far, Glassey has relied on word of mouth for publicity and delivery services to spread a name that may not be recognized yet.
Once Glassey is able to welcome customers to dine on-site, the restaurant plans to add more Indian-American mash-ups like “naanchos” and chicken tikka wings.
Glassey is selling lassis (plain or mango) and a variety of sodas to start. Although it can’t offer cocktails yet, it plans to and stay true to is name name eventually. “Glassey” is a term used in the Punjab state of India to mean a boozy, fun-filled time. Brunch and dessert dishes are also expected to be added.
Glassey is open from noon to 9 p.m. six days a week (closed Tuesdays). Call 202-483-8286 for carryout or order delivery through DoorDash, GrubHub, or Postmates.