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Mezè, 18th Street in Adams Morgan


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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 ( ohmy.gif ), 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). smile.gif

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A reminder that Tuesday nights are half-priced wine night at Mezè. Tonight I got a bottle of 2009 Angora Sultana de Denzili for $16 (normally $32). This is a good table wine that can go with anything that's not beef or lamb, and for $16 a bottle? Remember this on Tuesday nights if you're in Adams Morgan.

I don't suppose the food was any more memorable that it seemed the last time I was there?

Try the Mercimek Köfte ($4.95) and the delicious homemade bread next time you're there.

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