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Mourayo, Greek by the Owners of La Tomate, Connecticut Ave and R St, North Dupont - Closed Mar, 2017


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Maybe it's the fall weather or that it now gets dark at 5 pm, but I've started longing for warm salty sea breezes and lounging about under the Mediterranean sun. I guess that why I’ve been thinking of checking this place out again. When Mourayo first opened, I used to eat here quite a bit – mostly because the opening coincided with plans I had to the Greek Islands, and I wanted to accustom myself to ouzo so that I wouldn’t make TOO much a fool of myself when I was over there. :lol:

Some of the outstanding dishes I remember having were the Ouzo Mezze – a sampling of spreads and marinated seafood large enough for two or three to share, the Roasted Eggplant and Feta salad – a sweet, garlicky and salty mound of goodness (a friend of mine from New York proclaimed this the best version she had ever had), Grilled Octopus in ink with fava bean puree – slightly charred with a nice earthy flavor, and Pork medallions with honey, figs, and manouri cheese (although sometimes the medallions were a touch overdone).

The place took great pride in the olive oil (used for dipping the warm soft triangles of pita), yogurt and honey they used – all made by one of the owner’s brothers (at least I think Dmitri was a part owner) back in Greece.

The best desserts were probably the simplest ones. Yogurt and honey with walnuts may not be a revelation, but it certainly puts you in a good mood; and the Ravani cake with poached pears and moscato wine is definitely a light satisfying ending to a meal(if he’s still working there, get Nassos to tell you the meaning behind the dessert – he’s quite charming in a bumbling sort of way and loves talking about his home country).

So will the restaurant still transport me back to Greece or should I book a ticket elsewhere?

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Last I knew, all these things still applied. A lovely little spot. The pork medallions in particular were always to die for. My boyfriend loves taramasalata, the fish roe dip, and admires the version they produce at Mourayo. The Aphrodite dessert, yogurt/honey/walnuts, is a perfect end to the meal, sweet and rich and simple.

The best meal we had there was after one of those ridiculous snowstorms where the entire city shut down, and we went trudging down Connecticut Ave just to get out of the house, and lo and behold, Mourayo was open. We ordered a lot of things and stayed a long time, just to soak in the atmosphere. Another couple eventually came in but for a while it was just us and the sailors.

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So will the restaurant still transport me back to Greece or should I book a ticket elsewhere?

My meal at Mourayo last week did not transport me to Greece. I found the food to be perfectly serviceable, but nothing awe-inspiring. The octopus starter was not as good as the one I had last night at Notti Bianche. It was chewy and, frankly, I preferred the fava puree that came with it. Whipped up light and fluffy it went well with the ink on the plate.

For my entree I had the lamb youvetsi, which I used to love at the now-closed Aegean Taverna in Clarendon. It's basically a braised lamb dish served over orzo in a tomato-ey sauce. They use chunks of cubed lamb at Mourayo and I found them rather dry. A far cry from what they had at Taverna which was a massive lamb shank on the bone and that pulled off in stringy, meaty goodness. Mourayo's was nice, but nothing particularly special. I wouldn't order it again.

Nice collection of Greek wines and I appreciate how the list separates them according to flavor and body, with the grape names accompanying them. Very tasty pita bread comes with your meal for nibbling.

They seemed to be short-staffed (Service personnel wear these sailor suits and caps that I think are a little over the top. They had one server and one busser when we arrived and the manager was helping out, too.) and what we were hoping would be a short dinner took much longer than expected. Kudos to the fact they recognized this by bringing an unsolicited apology and some complimentary dessert wine with our check.

Would still like to find some kick-ass Greek food in the area. Mourayo didn't do it for me. I'd go back when I'm in the neighborhood to try something else. But I wouldn't make it a destination restaurant. I think there probably are some gems coming from the kitchen, but I didn't find them on my sole visit there.

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Ate there last night, actually. I found it totally underwhelming. Among the four of us we had the pork loin (which I did not taste, but the two people who had it left more than 1/2 on their plates, so that is saying something), the goat stew (which the person eating said was tasty), and I had the lamb stew (which basically tasted like dry lamb cubes in chef boy-ar-dee sauce over orzo).

The greek salads were good, and the phyllo stuffed with cheese was tasty, but nothing special. I think I've had the same quality from those pre-frozen appetizer packs they sell at Stew Leonard's in CT.

Someone next to us ordered a whole fish baked in salt (deboned tableside) which looked as good as those that I have eaten in Brazil, so maybe fish is the way to go here.

Service was s l o w. We got our appetizers quickly, but then waited about an hour for mains!

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Tried out Mourayo last night and left saying we'd go back (but likely not order as much food as we did this time).

I am so bad with remembering the names of wine, but I know we wanted to have something Greek and I think we ended up with Santo Sanorini Assyrtico. I actually really enjoyed it, and for $28 a bottle the price was right. We had just come from a glass of wine at nearby Veritas and it certainly held it's own.

The shared appetizer for the table was the Symposium Edesmata (a plate of about 8 different dips/spreads including tzatsiki, hummus, fava and others I couldn't hope to pronounce. The pepper and feta was probably my favorite). The pita that comes for dipping is delicious and the olive oil was definitely top quality. We had to ask for our bread basket to be refilled because we devoured the first serving.

Three of us ordered salads and I was more than satisfied with Salata Voskou (tomatoes, red onion, cucumbers, olives and feta in an olive oil and feta dressing and hummus on top). It was a large serving and I would've been fine with just this salad and maybe an appetizer instead of an entree.

I think we were all happy with our entrees, but it wasn't necessarily anything stellar. Like I said above, I would maybe do salad and app next time and save a little money and room in my stomach :mellow: . The Greek style meatballs in tomato sauce over rice were proclaimed good...but just tasted like normal meatballs. The black ravioli with crab (a special of the day) was enjoyed and the chicken with tomato sauce over eggplant was "just fine." I ended up with the Duck Moussaka that was recommended in the Post and on a couple other sources. It seemed to be ground duck encasing layers off eggplant and surrounded by a pepper and feta sauce. It really was good, but I was so full at that point from the salad, dips, pita, etc.

I'd certainly go back, but it likely won't be at the top of my list. One thing we all thought was funny was how many times we'd walked up that stretch of Connecticut and never even know Mourayo existed until we heard about it in passing (maybe on a Tom chat?) and decided to try it out.

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Tried out Mourayo last night and left saying we'd go back (but likely not order as much food as we did this time).

I am so bad with remembering the names of wine, but I know we wanted to have something Greek and I think we ended up with Santo Sanorini Assyrtico. I actually really enjoyed it, and for $28 a bottle the price was right. We had just come from a glass of wine at nearby Veritas and it certainly held it's own.

The shared appetizer for the table was the Symposium Edesmata (a plate of about 8 different dips/spreads including tzatsiki, hummus, fava and others I couldn't hope to pronounce. The pepper and feta was probably my favorite). The pita that comes for dipping is delicious and the olive oil was definitely top quality. We had to ask for our bread basket to be refilled because we devoured the first serving.

Three of us ordered salads and I was more than satisfied with Salata Voskou (tomatoes, red onion, cucumbers, olives and feta in an olive oil and feta dressing and hummus on top). It was a large serving and I would've been fine with just this salad and maybe an appetizer instead of an entree.

I think we were all happy with our entrees, but it wasn't necessarily anything stellar. Like I said above, I would maybe do salad and app next time and save a little money and room in my stomach :mellow: . The Greek style meatballs in tomato sauce over rice were proclaimed good...but just tasted like normal meatballs. The black ravioli with crab (a special of the day) was enjoyed and the chicken with tomato sauce over eggplant was "just fine." I ended up with the Duck Moussaka that was recommended in the Post and on a couple other sources. It seemed to be ground duck encasing layers off eggplant and surrounded by a pepper and feta sauce. It really was good, but I was so full at that point from the salad, dips, pita, etc.

I'd certainly go back, but it likely won't be at the top of my list. One thing we all thought was funny was how many times we'd walked up that stretch of Connecticut and never even know Mourayo existed until we heard about it in passing (maybe on a Tom chat?) and decided to try it out.

That's funny, we were there last night too. I've got that flu that's going around, so my tastebuds and appetite are off, but people seemed generally pleased with their dishes - many of the same that NewFoodie and her friends had. We also had the octopus and squid ink appetizer, which was enjoyed. My dad tried the salt cod and loved it, and a friend had the pork with figs and cleaned his plate.
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One of the best things about Mourayo is the wine list, with lots of relatively inexpensive Greek wines that aren't necessarily better than various other choices from Europe, but they do tend to be cheaper. If you like high quality dry whites (and with much of this menu, that fits the bill), try the Boutari, ($37) a Moscofilero from Mantinia.

Melitzanosalata ($8.95) is a coarse-cut dip of roasted eggplant, savage garlic, tomatoes, little cubes of feta, olive oil and vinegar, and it goes very nicely as a first course with Mourayo's freshly grilled pita.

I asked if they served their baby octopus head-on, and they said no, so instead I went with the Soupia sti Skara k’Aromatiko Ladi ($11.95) which was well-grilled, seemingly fresh cuttlefish sitting atop a bed of spinach, all in a pool of herb-infused olive oil.

A daily special appetizer of Paidakia Sharas ($12.95) were two of the best little lamb chops I've had in quite awhile - fatty, tender, and loaded with flavor. The fava Santorini it came with tasted jarred, and like it had spent too much time in the refrigerator. Still, the lamb chops were the dish of the night.

Another daily special of Psari "Kypriako" ($23.95) which used a fresh wild striped bass filet seemed almost Latino in its presentation, with the terribly overcooked fish on a base-hash of onions, peppers, olives, tomatoes, capers, and pine nuts.

The food was relatively disappointing based on my past experiences here, but what really took the cake was after the meal when I walked through the empty restaurant towards the bar, where the dining-room manager was chatting up someone who seemed like an owner, a VIP, or someone with heavy connections to Mourayo.

"Who is the chef here?" I asked.

The manager looked at me as if he'd never been asked that question before. "Uh, I'm not sure of his name," he said, then turned to the VIP and said "what's the chef's name again?"

Between the two of them, they finally remembered that the chef's name was Rudy.

Then a server came in from the kitchen, and they turned to him and said, "What's Rudy's last name?"

And then between the three of them, they figured out that it begins with an M, but they still didn't know what it was.

The manager then said to me, "He's been the chef here since the restaurant opened!"

Cheers,

Rocks.

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"Who is the chef here?" I asked.

The manager looked at me as if he'd never been asked that question before. "Uh, I'm not sure of his name," he said, then turned to the VIP and said "what's the chef's name again?"

Between the two of them, they finally remembered that the chef's name was Rudy.

Then a server came in from the kitchen, and they turned to him and said, "What's Rudy's last name?"

And then between the three of them, they figured out that it begins with an M, but they still didn't know what it was.

The manager then said to me, "He's been the chef here since the restaurant opened!"

One is left to wonder what name they write on his paycheck, or his W-2 for that matter.

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We tried to go there for dinner a few weeks ago around 9 pm on a Friday night. The place was packed, they couldn't honor reservations they already had and the manager turned us away. He did mention that they were expanding the restaurant and doubling the size of the dining room. Did that actually happen?

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I've walked past this place a hundred times, as it is half-way between my office and Bistro du Coin, but I decided it was time for a change of pace and, besides, Mrs. B isn't as enamored of the cooking at Le Bureau as I am.

We ordered a $34 bottle of Tselepos Moscofilero, which tastes roughly like Viogner -- a little more body and a little less perfume -- and reminds one that Greeek wines have long been unfairly tarred by perception that they all taste like Retsina.

Luch was taramosalata (the "caviar" and mashed potatoes thing) and then clams in a delightfully off-beat cardamum broth for the missus and haloumi cheese baked with sesame seeds and served with grapes and lettuce, and nicely charred octopus on a splash its own (or a near relative's) ink, with a couple of quenelles of pureed favas.

Very tasty all around and pretty reasonably priced -- the octopus being the most expensive item at $12.95. Service was friendly and we got to sit in the window and watch the world walk by.

I may have to listen more closely next time I think I hear an onglet calling my name. I't may be an octopus instead.

(Expansion has been completed, by the way.)

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The two appetizers we had here were really good (grilled baby cuttlefish and some kind of phyllo pastry with crab and cheese filling). I ordered a salt baked fish. I never had salt baked branzino before. I expected the meat to be tender with a slippery mouth feel like steamed fish in Cantonese restaurant, but it tasted just like a piece of lightly baked fish with a couple of salt crystals here and there, nothing special.

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I hadn't thought about Mourayo in awhile, and when I went to look for it in the Dining Guide, I couldn't find it (that probably means that when it closed, I deleted the main entry, and neglected to put it down below). Anyway, it closed in Mar, 2017.

Having been both to Mourayo (which was slightly overrated) and La Tomate (which is slightly underrated) several times each, I can see where they were owned by the same folks. Qualitatively, they weren't that far apart.

Jul 19, 2017 - "Irish Tavern Replaces Mourayo Greek Restaurant in Dupont Circle" by Cameron Luttrell on patch.com

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