Obama takes Michelle for Indian birthday dinner

Amid his troubles with Russia, US President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle chose a popular Indian-cuisine restaurant for an intimate dinner date to celebrate Obama's 52nd birthday.

The couple dined at the up-market Rasika restaurant near the White House in Washington's West End neighbourhood on Thursday.

Rasika is part of the Knightbridge Group, owned by Delhi-born Ashok Bajaj. It is popular among the movers and shakers of Washington.

Bajaj has owned and operated award-winning restaurants in London and the United States for the last 25 plus years.

According to the restaurant's website, Rasika serves modern Indian cuisine, with "small plates, a modern lounge, and a temperature-controlled wine cellar".

Tawa (griddled), sigri (barbeque), and the inevitable tandoori are specialities of the restaurant, along with Indian regional dishes.

"The President and First Lady are going out to dinner to celebrate his birthday," the White House said in a statement.

Leaving the White House earlier, Michelle Obama wore a knee-length backless black dress. The president was dressed in his usual jacket and bow-tie.

Local press reports said not many people seemed to notice ''as the motorcade drove down Pennsylvania Ave, stopping at the lights along the way".

The president, who turned 52 on Sunday, spent his birthday weekend celebrating with friends and family at Camp David.