Tried out Light Horse on King St last night as part of a birthday happy hour for a coworker, and noticed that Raw Silk next door was open, so I tried out the latter today as well. Quick summary: both are very welcome additions to Old Town, especially Raw Silk.
Light Horse is a pretty typical good pub, w/ good happy hour beer specials (most drafts $2.50) and pretty good pub food, especially for those of us who enjoy clogging our arteries with things like a burger stuffed with cheddar, or a burger topped with bacon and a fried egg. (I may have to return to try to convince them to top the stuffed burger w/ the fried egg.) Sweet potato fries were also quite good, and the less said about the bacon mayonnaise that the fries came with, the less guilty I'll feel. (There may actually have been some healthy food on the menu; I saw "fried egg on a burger", though, and stopped reading.) So, as I said: a good pub, and I'll probably be returning. (if anyone cares, one of my group said that the owners are John (the bartender) from Rustico and one of the daughters of the Landinis.)
Far more startling for Old Town, though, is Raw Silk, which replaces the execrable and insipid Taj Palace; for the first time in a decade, there's now actually North Indian food in Old Town that's worth eating. I was too tired to order well, and thus accidentally ended up w/ a serious carb overload: a chaat papri appetizer, lamb vindaloo, and aloo gobi, all three of which feature potatoes prominently. With that caveat, though, the food was very good: the flavors were nicely layered and not at all Americanized, the food was about as non-greasy as authentic N. Indian food can be, and the portions were pretty good. The vindaloo wasn't sinus-burning spicy, which to some people I know would mean it wasn't a vindaloo, but I (normally a pepper fiend) found the spiciness just right, since it didn't overwhelm the flavor. The restaurant was almost empty (which I'm hoping is because they've been open for less than a week and because it was 14 degrees out when I was there, and not because Old Town can't support an actual good Indian restaurant after 10 years of keeping Taj Palace in business), so I also ended up chatting with the owners (Jasmine & Tharun?) a bit about their plans. They've converted the back into a neat little bar/lounge, and are trying hard not to fall back on luring in crowds w/ a crappy buffet like T.P. had (can you tell I'm happy that that place is gone?); instead, they're trying out a "lunch platter" idea that sounds like an Indian bento box.
So to sum up: both places get a thumbs up. If you've got to choose between them, I'm going to plead for Raw Silk, given that Light Horse was hopping last night, and that I'm not willing to wait another decade for more good Indian food in Old Town if Raw Silk can't stay afloat. (The biggest hurdle they might face is the prices: around $13-20 per entree, which isn't out of line for either the quality of food they're serving or for the location, but which in my experience is more than many people will pay for Indian food because they're so used to the stereotypical $10 Indian buffet.)
(Hrm. The link to add a place doesn't seem to be working. Raw Silk is 719 King St, and Light Horse is 715 King St.)
719 King St, Alexandria, VA 22314