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  1. Um, I think I just started a thread! Inspired by Sietsema's first bite article last week, friends called us and asked us to join them for an early dinner on Saturday at the new Ottoman Taverna. We had all traveled to Turkey on various trips (separately) so we were psyched to get some good Turkish food. TL:DR - Really good food, really average service, decent price (for DC), Michelle Obama sighting. Details follow: We were only able to get a 5:30 reservation so we decided to get there, have drinks, then order mezze, then wait, then eat mains, and proceed on. That was a good strategy. The room is gorgeous - really really nice with interesting decor. The hostesses were a little flaky (trying to give us someone else's table even though the last name on the reservation was a simple as could be) but nice, and we were seated. As soon as we sat we realized that something was going on -- Secret Service were swarming the place and started wanding all the people coming in just after us. The waiter told us Michelle Obama was there, in the private room (which we had guessed) hosting a party. (Coincidentally this is the second time in a year that I have been at dinner when Michelle shows up -- last time was Rose's Luxury). The Michelle situation may have been the reason for all the weird service. For more on Michelle, see this: "Michelle Obama Dines at Ottoman Taverna" by Anna Spiegel on washingtonian.com I'll get the service out of the way. Our waiter (not Turkish, Latino, which only matters because he didn't know much about the food and was hard to understand) was a bit amateurish. Knocking into glasses, not really knowing the cuisine, not able to answer many questions, and just a bit bumbling. I think the service (at the prices they charge) needs to be much more polished. That's all I'll say. The food, however, was great. We started with 4 mezze - a cold chicken salad, Imam bayidli (cold eggplant with tomatoes), kofte kabob, and something else I can't remember (but was the best of the bunch.) The chicken and kofte were well spiced and moist. My Imam bayildi was just OK. It was the weak link. I love this dish at Zaytina and think theirs is better. For mains I had the Iskender Kabob, which was shaved lamb and beef over cubed fluffy pita with spicy sauce. It was the best dish on the table and I LOVED it. Two others had the Manti (small pasta filled with meat in a cream sauce) and it was good (if a small portion) and authentic. My other friend had some sort of kebab I can't recall. Desserts were Turkish coffee and some really nice baklava with walnut ice cream. Drinks-wise I had a gin and ginger cocktail that was out of this world refreshing and good (with beach plum gin) and we split a bottle of Turkish red wine (I didn't choose it, so don't remember what it was). For 4 of us with 4 cocktails, a bottle of wine and a glass, 4 mezze, 4 mains, 4 desserts, and 3 coffees the bill was about $350, which was not cheap, but seems to be the norm in this town these days. I'll be back. Funny moment (I was talking about artificial insemination during dinner and turned my head and happened to say "sperm" really loudly just as an older couple walked by. The husband was in a non-ironic Donald Trump hat. They kind of looked at me and continued on. They sat a bit far down from us. Later in the meal, when their server told them that Michelle was in the house the woman loudly exclaimed "Oh GOD!" and they left shortly thereafter. I guess you really can't escape politics in this town. And, Trump lady, I am sorry I seemingly shouted "sperm!" at you.)
  2. 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.
  3. Yes, I am very much looking forward to the new Turkish place. Apr 4, 2018 - "Istanbul Grill Expected To Replace Ballston Area's El Ranchero" by Bridget Reed Morawski on arlnow.com
  4. Located in the Worldgate Shopping Centre, just of the Dulles Toll Road and Elden Street - Anatolian BIstro, is tucked away on the upper level close to Starbucks and Panera. Open for lunch and dinner, their menu from start to finish features authentic Turkish and Mediterranean treats. The best part is they serve Doner Kabob daily, made fresh, and when it is out, they do not have anymore that day. Interior is simple and quaint, with applicable music playing in the background. The service was excellent and quick. Their Doner Kabob is served over rice with a roasted pepper, tomato and yogurt sauce on the side. Their baklava was light and fluffy - a perfect treat at the end of a meal. Having only been her once, I will be back - if you are looking for something not typically found in this area, give it a shot.
  5. I had not previously eaten at Kazan, but after lunch today I won't repeat that omission from my culinary travels. This quaint little Turkish restaurant is in a strip mall across from Total Wine in McLean. It is nicely furnished with Turkish decor, and it's been open since 1980. The tables out front were occupied by Turkish gentlemen, including the owner, sipping tea and playing backgammon. That scene actually adds to the ambiance of this little Turkish corner of McLean. I'll note that Kibbee Nayee's heritage traces to northern Syria, so the dishes I grew up eating from my mom's kitchen actually tend towards Turkish rather than mainstream Levantine. Such it was today with the stuffed cabbage, or cabbage dolmas, a lunch special. It was as if my dearly departed mom was in the kitchen. This dish was spot on perfect, with three cabbage leaves stuffed with a mostly beef and lamb stuffing and braised in a tomato-based red sauce, served along side rice pilaf and spicy yogurt. Let this dish join kibbee nayee as my final two meals on this planet. One of my companions had the Kazan Yogurtlu Special, which is chunks of lamb and tomatoes over pita bread, and my other companion had a special of tilapia stuffed with spinach. Both looked good enough to try on my next visit. Thumbs up all around. http://kazanrestaurant.com/
  6. The deeper you crawl into this story, the more repulsive it, and its characters, will become. "Frank Ribery: Bayern Midfielder Fined over Angry Salt Bae Tweets" on bbc.com
  7. I was walking past the old Sorriso space in Cleveland Park and saw that it was open for business. I popped my head in to see what was up - Dolan Uyghur Restaurant Things looked to be bare bones with no decor. I saw several plates of fat noodles with stir fried stuff on top going by. If I hadn't just picked up a bunch of Thai food I would have stuck around and ordered something to go. But the menu looked pretty extensive so I'll have to return with some neighbors to order a bunch of stuff. i've never had Uyghur food before but looking forward to trying it out.
  8. 2001 L St. NW Washington, DC 20036 Phone: (202) 331-2055 Web: http://www.cafeistanbultogo.com/ Cafe Istanbul never seems to have anyone in it, but it's a good choice for a sandwich if you're in the neighborhood. I can't vouch for the Turkish buffet or the average-looking pizza as I've tried neither, but the Döner Pita ($5.99) is the real deal. The meat, which is much more lamby than an American gyro, is sliced from the traditional rotisserie and served on homemade pita with shredded lettuce and your choice of the usual toppings, like cacik (tzatziki), tomato and cucumber salad, hummus, babaganoush, and tabbouleh. Cafe Istanbul's version reminds me of the döners I used to get in Frankfurt, where one is available on nearly every street corner. I haven't seen too many in DC, and I like the one here. I'm not sure I'd travel across town for it, but it's a nice alternative if you're nearby and don't feel like standing in line for a gyro at the Greek Deli.
  9. The still-in-progress dining area at the front of Lezzet Market (on Nelson St. in Rockville, just down the hill from Rt 28 at I-270) will evidently be a branch of Balkan Grill, and not Simit & Kabob as previously surmised. I'm told there will be Turkish kebabs though. The interior reconfiguration is complete, a few tables are in, the kitchen is equipped. Latest rumored opening date is "this Friday, insha'Allah".
  10. Could folks list restaurants (Middle Eastern, Greek, Mexican, Turkish) that stack their cones with real meat, instead of the processed stuff? I don't care if the meat is frozen; I just don't want it processed. I don't care if it's ground and mixed with spices; I just don't want fillers. I'm talking about something like this: as opposed to something like this:
  11. I hadn't seen anything on them so I thought I would give them some press. They have been open since this summer and we've been twice. Both times we got the Donner and the Boregi and both times it was quite good. Service was also quick and helpful and the owners were willing to answer questions about the menu. If you are in the area give them a try. I don't see them that crowded and I want small places like that to succeed.
  12. We tried out this Turkish-Lebanese-Greek restaurant tonight and it was really good. We had falafel, dolmas, grilled squid, boregi, and moussaka. Everything was pretty good. We will definitely go back again. They have only been open 2-1/2 months but the place was very busy tonight. It is located near the Chasin' Tails restaurant.
  13. A couple blocks away from the Millenium Hilton and the 9/11 rebuild and memorial is a great market and cafe called the Amish Market. Why the name? No idea. It is really like a small Whole Foods. They have groceries and gourmet items and a huge hot bar, salad bar, dessert and pastry section, wood burning grill that makes pizzas and sandwiches, taco and burrito station, etc, etc. This is a great quick stop for breakfast or lunch, although they are open for dinner too. We grabbed a bunch of stuff off the hot and cold bars after a long long shopping spree at Century 21. Everything was fresh and nicely prepared, they had a great selection of drinks and desserts and a nice little area with tables to sit at. Anyway if you are staying nearby, this is a great little place to know about for a quick stop.
  14. When we moved from Arlington to Herndon, I was afraid my wife's heart would break from losing Me Jana/Lebanese Taverna market and the other local places to get a quick shot of shawarma when needed. In one of Herndon's many strip malls of ethnic delights on Elden (this one has four Indian places of various styles and regions, a halal grocery store, a Russian deli, a German place where the owner's Thai wife snuck some things on the menu) is Granada Cafe, which beyond doing excellent Lebanese staples such as shawarma/fettoush/kibbeh etc. has some Syrian and Iraqi dishes, including something which I never thought I'd see outside of Iraq, the delectable sammoun. Sammoun is a soft sandwich loaf that defies easy description. It's shaped like a baguette truncated into a crescent-roll shape, very soft with a hint of sweetness. If you've only ever had pita and lavash, sammoun is eye-opening. The Granada Sandwich (tender beef strips, pickled beets and carrots, marinated eggplant, and a touch of curry) comes stuffed in a sammoun, as does their version of shish tawook, which is like a yankee bbq sandwich because it takes a perfectly good bit of bread, meat, and sauce and then throws coleslaw in it. All the breads are fresh-baked in their brick oven and any sandwich can come on sammoun for an extra dollar, I believe. They also bake Turkish pide in this oven, though I haven't tried one. They do a fairly steady business for lunch, but I've never seen them busy for dinner outside of Ramadan. They have an impressive dessert case from the bakery side of the house - different strains of baklawa, bird's nests, knafeh, etc. So far I've only been disappointed with the meat and cheese fetayer - it's possible that they're not getting the turnover they need, so they end up a little dry; otherwise, this is a great chance for fans of Middle Eastern food to try something new.
  15. Oh the great Doner Kebab search. I wrote a little bit about it a while ago here on DCist. Meyhane's is okay, especially when paired with half price wine on Saturdays. K
  16. I just started a new job in Georgetown and am in the process of scoping out lunch places. One of my colleagues recommended Cafe Tu-o-Tu Express near the Key Bridge, so I checked it out. It and its sibling, Cafe Tu-o-Tu on the other end of Georgetown, offer delicious sandwiches and some interesting salads (boconccini, strawberry/spinach/goat cheese, Nicoise). I had a panini combo (half panini and one of the daily salads, $8.25) with the chicken caprese melt and the mango salad. The panini was nice and crusty, although I would have liked more and better tomatoes, but I really enjoyed the salad -- baby arugula topped with a generous amount of fresh and dried sliced mango, dried cranberries, shaved Parmesan, and a small disk of goat cheese, served with a side of balsamic vinaigrette. I was definitely pleased with what I got for my eight bucks, and will likely visit again. Website: http://www.cafetuotu.com/
  17. Couldn't find a thread for Cafe 8 so...here goes. Cafe 8 occupies the old Ellington's on Eighth and they have done a great job of redoing the space, creating 3 seperate but interlocking dining areas...a place that you hope will survive, because it's friendly, reasonably priced and, well, as we all know, Capitol Hill can always use better dining options. Unfortunately, my small sampling last night was mediocre at best. First the highlight: The red lentil soup was darn tasty on a chilly and rainy night, hearty with a little kick of pepper. Served luke warm, but still good to the last spoon. Middlelights: We went with a sampler of 3 mezze, hummus (dull, needed more life, lemon, garlic, tahini something!), spinach and feta puree thing (again, dull, lacked salt), baba ganoush was the best of the three with a nice smoky flavor. Lowlights: The bread/pita...they serve fluffy style pita and our first batch was either stale or it was reheated in the microwave because after a couple minutes it had that hard around the edges quality you get when you reheat bread products in the microwave. Our second batch was hot and soft. I'm not going to give up on the place and would like to sample more of the menu...with some tweaking of the seasoning all three meze would have received a rave review...but the seasoning sucked.
  18. Noticed this place a few days ago while walking around. Doesn't appear to be open for dinner yet, lunch only right now. It's right next to Chinatown Express on 6th. I haven't had a chance to try it, but my sister-in-law did and said it was rather good. In particular, they supposedly make their pita from scratch and she noted that their pita was particularly good.
  19. Ezmè opened about a month ago in the old Pesce location. It's strange for me to walk in here and see a Turkish restaurant, but time moves forward. It's owned by the Bolukbasi brothers, who also co-own Bistro Cacao on Capitol Hill. I sat at the bar this evening and tried a couple of basics. I started with an Efes Pilsener ($5.50) which I enjoyed with the Babaganush ($5.95) - a small portion of grilled eggplant, chickpeas, tahini paste, heavy garlic, and olive oil, the whole package coming across as delicate, and served with a round of good, homemade bread. I graduated to the Efes Dark ($5.50) which is a better beer all around, with the same delicacy as the Pilsener, but the added complexity of rye-like aromas - this is the beer you should be ordering here. And it is indeed beer that you should order, because the wine list is pathetic (think Benziger, Moet et Chandon, etc.). With the Efes Dark, I got an appetizer portion of Manti ($7.95), homemade Turkish mini-pasta stuffed with ground beef, and served in a thin yogurt sauce. The highlight was a freshly made buttered red pepper sauce, brought out in the pan, and drizzled atop the manti - a dish which I haven't had since the last time I had it at Simit and Kabob, whose version was less homemade, with thicker yogurt, and more overt flavor. Both of these courses were on the light-handed side, and could have used a touch of salt. But they were both good enough to bring me back, and I'll happily return to Ezmè for a deeper sampling. (By the way, has anyone been to Mezè lately? I haven't been in years.) Cheers, Rocks
  20. At a very well attended community forum this evening, after a discussion about Chef G and Robins new Avenue Oven, Murat Uzuntepe and Cenk Duzturk presented their plans for Roscoe's. First of all, the name was an immediate hit with the locals, and actually showed some knowledge of the community. Roscoe was a free range rooster who lived in downtown Takoma Park for many years. After his death, the community commissioned a bronze sculpture which is on display in the farmer's market area. Anyway, the idea is what they describe as "gourmet pizza", and they specifically mentioned Two Amys and Pizza Paradiso. They are going for a full liquor license and will also have patio space, both of which drew applause from the audience. 96 seats. Besides pizza, the expect to serve appetizers "with lots of olive oil" and goodies from based on their native Turkey. Takeout, of course, and no delivery. They have not run a restaurant in the US before, though Murat said he was manager of an Italian restaurant in England once. I think this is a great idea and could do very well, but I was surprised that they were unaware of the local competition (Moroni & Bros), and hope they can maintain a high standard of management.
  21. Craig and I set out last night to find something to eat, while the deluge was just a gentle rain. We spotted Meze on 18th Street and decided to give it a whirl. I am happy to report that this place is a little, inexpensive gem. Given its name, they specialize in small plates which are primarily Turkish in origin. The house bread is something akin to freshly made foccacio and is very good. We started with soup; Craig had the "aromatic" red lentil soup and I had the cold yoghurt soup. The lentil soup was nicely spiced, but not overwhelmingly so, better than most lentil soups you will find. The yoghurt soup is reminiscent of the sauce you dip your lamb kabob in other Mediterranean places, which is not to say it wasn't perfectly seasoned and had quite a bit of diced cucumber in it. Not a bad choice for warm, muggy evening. Then came fried calamari for Craig and something I've never seen anywhere: fried mussels. The waiter had indicated that these were SMALL plates and, thus, not really for sharing. I think he might have been a little bit wrong about that. There were was a substantial amount of calamari which, while it didn't quite measure up to the stuff at Bob's Noodle House ( ), was pretty good. It came with a dipping sauce that I didn't try and probably wasn't required anyway. The mussels came out on two skewers, with four very large mussels on each, covered in a thin, crispy batter. This could easily be shared with someone who likes mussels, which lets Craig out. I actually think they could have been smaller and more suitable as a one-bite morsel. They also came with a dipping sauce that I had never had before. It was creamy and mild with some unidentifiable crunchy bits in. It neither added nor detracted from the mussels. But then, I've never been one who thought fried chicken needed gravy on it, either. Then came braised lamb on a bed of pureed eggplant and an eggplant stuffed with beef and lamb. Craig actually used the salt shaker on the braised lamb, but it was otherwise a lovely dish. My stuff eggplant was certainly tasty enough, but I thought the eggplant itself was a little overcooked. Neither of us ordered an "entree." Nor were we hungry at the end. A quibble: the wine list seemed awfully pedestrian to me, although I am not familiar with all the wines on it. What can you say about a place which carries Beringer White Zinfandel or Rex Goliath? They are charging $24 for a bottle of Bella Sera Pinot Grigio, which we can buy a block away for $6.99 and less than that when it's on sale at CW. I had a glass of perfectly servicable Sauvignon Blanc from Chile, IIRC. All bottles of wine were 1/2-priced last night, but we didn't go that route. Maybe next time. Or not. I wonder if beer wouldn't have been better? They do have a full-service bar and list "Luxury Martinis" and "Luxury Mojitos" on a card on each table, all in the $8-$9 range. Care has been taken with the interior design, too. This is a typical AM townhouse, which means a long, narrow room, bar on one side with small tables opposite, with a smaller space up a flight of stairs (the remnant of a second floor). Very high ceiling in the front room (after taking out part of the second floor) with a tin ceiling and some sort of swag above the bar. The lighting is modern and creative and the walls are painted a soothing sea green (maybe?). There is interesting artwork on the walls, all of it unobtrusive, with photographic murals over the front door and in the back of the second floor. Made me think that this is what Michael Landrum ought to think about doing to Ray's. The music in the background was inoffensive Euro-pop (?), a la Middle Eastern Bossa Nova. All-in-all, I thought the food was quite a bit better than I expected for the price, which was a nice surprise. This is a place where we will want to return and explore the menu further. Is this a destination restaurant for those of you in the 'burbs? No, but for those of us in that part of town, it is worth a long walk, particularly on a warm night. Six plates, one glass of wine: $40.50 (before tax and tip).
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