I stopped by Cusbah (1128 H Street) tonight for the public soft opening. I had seen the interior space before, but it looked even better tonight. What follows is not a review because:
A: I am not a food critic (and certainly not an expert on Pakistani food);
B: It's a soft opening.
So this is simply a recounting of the evening's food and drink. Also, this was their soft opening menu, NOT the full menu.
I went with two friends. They had happy hour specials all night to celebrate the soft opening. We tried the speciality margarita (which is pretty savory, and was on discount), and it was very tasty. I get very sick of ordering margaritas in DC and getting something way too sweet, or something obviously made with crappy store bought sour mix. This drink suffered from neither fault. Everyone liked it. It's slightly different than the margarita described on the menu from the Thrillist link. It has the jalapenos, and probably most of the other stuff mentioned ( Sorry, I did not steal a menu), but it was made with Jose Cuervo Tradicional, not with the Sauza Blanco. I would consider that a step up, personally. It doesn't look like a traditional margarita. It's sort of more brown in color, but you won't be disappointed if you order it (unless you like them sweet).
One in our party was a vegetarian, so we chose to eat all vegetarian food. That included two apps, and two small plates. All of the food was quite good, and you could really tell that the ingredients were very fresh. With three people (one guy) we finished most of the food, and felt like we had eaten a bit too much. One small plate would definitely be enough for me, and the veggie small plates are $6. So that seems like a bargain to me. Both of our appetizers came with mint chutney and tamarind chutney. I liked both, but the mint was the standout for me. We ordered everything spicy (there is a mild option), and it had some spice, but nothing overwhelming. So, if you can tolerate ANY spice, order the spicy option.
What we drank:
Imlee Margarita (normall $9) (as stated above the ingredients differed from the menu that Thrillist has posted)
What we ate:
Appetizer: Vegetable Samosa ($3) -pastry encasing potatos, peas, garam masala. Recommended. 2 per order.
Appetizer: Vegetable Pakora ($4) -mildly spiced veggie fritter fried. Highly recommended. 2 per order.
Small Plate: Palak Paneer ($6)- spinach with cheese. Highly recommended. The cheese was soft, and melted in your mouth, but not because it was hot. It just seemed very fresh.
Small Plate: Peshwari Chana Masala ($6) -chickpeas simmered with pomegranate seeds, onions, tomatoes, and spices. Highly recommended. Very tasty.
Stuff we'd like to see on the permanent menu:
-Info telling you if something is vegetarian/vegan