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Semeli Taverna

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Semeli Taverna is an interesting new Greek concept perched atop the Sakerum sushi establishment on 14th street NW--in the refurbished rooftop of the latter. The menu is based on a choice of 14 mezze and one main dish, always a “fresh catch of the day”. Though you can order the mezze separately a la carte, the try-all-mezze option seems the default option here and at 39 dollars for the all-mezze menu is quite a bargain.

While not attaining the quality of the outstanding Greek places in the area (Nostos, My Mom Eugenia, and, on the fast food front, the Greek Deli on 19 h street NW), the food is quite good. Best, in our group’s view, were the saganaki, the calamari, the orzo with lamb ragu’, and the branzino.

We felt nonetheless that there were some areas for improvement. The chicken souvlaki was a bit on the dry side and cocktails were not available—strange, given that there is a full bar at Sakerum downstairs (from where they were supposed to come, we gather). Moreover, the final mezze, the dessert, was a relatively strange combination of what appeared to be cornbread and mochi green tea ice cream (the latter recycled from Sakerum?). The menu listed semolina cake with Mastiha gelato for dessert, but what was provided did not seem to match the description, at least if we understand what mastiha should be...

The locale is nicely outfitted to look like a Greek terrace, suffused in blue and white, the national colors of Greece, and with hanging (faux?) plants. During our visit, the clientele was mostly youthful, except us...The room was pretty quiet and allowed for relaxed conversation, which is definitely a plus.

Overall, the experience was quite pleasant and, again, we felt it was a fair deal for DC standards.

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