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  1. Opened about six months ago, Ayse (pron: eye-shae, 6 North East St, 240 651 5155) specializes in small plates of Turkish, Greek, and Lebanese origin, but the primary emphasis is on the Turkish offerings, which are hard enough to find even in the DC area. We stopped in for dinner last night, and left with a very positive impression of the food. The menu itself is rather long, and will take several visits to sample fully. Most dishes were in the $6-8 range, with some items as low as $4, but hardly anything that could even be considered moderately expensive. Value was generally spot on, although some items like the mantı were a bit precious at $8 for three not-too-large dumplings. The whole fish, on the daily specials sheet, are noteworthy. FedExed from Turkey, they were a steal at $18-19 for authentic branzino or dorade. Limited availability, by their very nature, and no indication of how frequently he has these flown in. There was a definite pecking order to the "cigars" (aka sigar boregı), although all of them suffered slightly from a rather thick pastry which fried up more like a wonton wrapper than like a delicate boregı pastry. I was a bit underwhelmed by the cheese version, where it was difficult to detect any of the non-cheese components of the filling. The lamb version was nice, and boosted by an excellent yogurt sauce which also accompanied a number of lamb-based items. The duck version was excellent...do make sure you try this item. Vegetable-based items were delicious all around, the squash fritters having a nice bit of salt to their crispy exterior. I found the use of dill to be more restrained here than in Turkey. The housemade suí§uk and also the Adana kebab were decidedly spicy, and well-moderated by the yogurt sauce. Both had a somewhat dense chew that is authentic. The kebab here is served curiously unadorned though, over a thin layer of rice and without the customary heaps of chopped onions, tomatoes, or other green. It turns out that somebody *does* import salep dondurma (orchid root mastic ice cream) to the USA by way of New York, if our server was correct. You can choose that, or two other housemade flavors. I had the salep, which might not have been the most refined version I've had, but definitely had the characteristic elasticity and stretchiness. I don't know if real salep or credible substitutes were used in the ice cream, but again, it's a Turkish specialty worth trying. We didn't really explore the beverage list much, but there are five types of rakı available, plus a short list of beers including a number of Oliver Ales on draft. The wine list is also appropriately Mediterranean, and organized into sections labeled Greek, Turkish, Israeli, Lebanese, and "other". Our tab for two, including beverages but before tip, was under $90 for a face-stuffing variety of dishes. Two could easily assemble a nice meal here in the $75 range all in, but you'll probably want to explore instead of holding back. I'm probably damning the place with faint praise, but this is an excellent addition to the area (not quite Family Meal good, but better than any of the Market St options close to Carroll Creek) and I can't wait to get back and dine on the outdoor patio as the weather warms up.
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