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Tabaq Bistro - Lebanese and Middle Eastern on 13th & U Streets NW - Closed


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Tabaq Bistro is a new restaurant set to debut this week at 1336 U Street. It will be a Mediterranean style tapas place, located in a rennovated brownstone. Word is that there is going to be a rooftop open-air lounge that covers over in bad weather. And there is supposed to be live jazz entertainment as well. Daniel LaBonne is slated to be the chef (formerly of Wazuri).

Has anyone got any further details? Is a U Street crawl a possibility for a Friday HH?

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I went to Tabaq Bistro last Sunday for a tasting/get together with Omar and Mehli, the owners. The food was tasty and the place looks great. Their intent is to raise the level on U St, hence the "proper attire" signs. Should be a fun place.

At the risk of dating myself :P , I am AMAZED at the what's happened to U Street. There is a Heritage Trail there that all of you might take the time to check out. (It isn't food related, per se, but it couldn't hurt for more people to know about the history of the area you are visiting--and be humbled.)

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I went to Tabaq last night with high expectations, and was very disappointed. The space was great and has a lot of potential, but something seems very off about the place. The food was simple with no flavor, and the drinks were insanely overpriced. I dont mind paying $13 for a martini, but I expect there to be some sort of scene. Here, its was dead. Also, the manager (i believe) came over to offer his suggestions on drinks, and of course, he suggested the three most expensive. If they have problems filling the place on a Monday, then they should offer some sort of promotion.

I think this place has great potential has a place for drinks, not food. I wish they would clear the tables off the roof at say, 9 pm on weekends and have it be simply a bar. I believe that would be much more profitable for them. I hope they can get there act together.

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Of course. We ordered a wide variety of small plates. We has hummos (that they don't even serve with pita, just some hard rolls), walnut beef (which was served luke-warm), chicken (served ice cold), eggplant dip, and beef ravioli (which was not edible).

Can you please be more specific about the food?  For example, what did you order?

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Of course. We ordered a wide variety of small plates. We has hummos (that they don't even serve with pita, just some hard rolls), walnut beef (which was served luke-warm), chicken (served ice cold), eggplant dip, and beef ravioli (which was not edible).

How sad. Wonder how long this place will be around. Thanks for the heads-up.

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I'm not sure one unhappy diner equates to a doomsday scenario.  :P

You're right, of course. But, how many places can you think of which started out on a note like this and then went on to become a favorite of this crowd? The location alone might save this place.

We'll always have ROSA MEXICANO :wub::P:lol:

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Tom mentioned this place in his "weekly dish" this morning, commenting on the dress code it seemed, and what it says about U St.  He seemed generally positive about the restaurant, tho the comments were mostly factual.  It would appear he was in the process of checking it out for a full-blown review.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/conte...5082300282.html

... close to $4 million readying the space ...

:P

I think that says more about the new U than any dress code.

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jennystable22pc.jpg

This is JLK’s corner table on the rooftop bar/lounge at Tabaq. It has been empty all evening. Ahh…but where is JLK? JLK is in the basement. Kicked down 17 flights to the dank musty bowels with the rest of the rejects. Not once, but twice is she given the heave-ho. Sorry JLK. The uber-hip grouping at the roof top table next to your empty one sympathizes with your plight and wants you to stay. Really, it does.

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I excitedly came to DR.com to see what would be posted about my relegation to the main floor (not basement - see I wasn't that lowly regarded :wub: ). There you go!!

Fortunately I had many, many, many drinks (plus a shot) which allowed me to properly get over the hurt, but it also delayed my visit to DR.com.

Phase One of my visit to Tabaq went swimmingly. I met a girlfriend at the main floor bar, ordered drinks, chatted with the affable barman Dallas and then decided to check out the roof deck. It was mostly empty - probably five or so staff people and the very friendly Turkish owner, plus a handful of customers. The upstairs barman Grant, who also works at the Caucus Room, is a gem. He made some food suggestions and everything we ate was pretty darn good.

It's true that pita isn't served with the hummos. Instead, we received a deliciously doughy twisted soft breadstick type thing that IMO went well with both the eggplant puree (served with tender braised lamb shank) and the hummos with a spicy sausage (sucok?). We also had dolma.

My boyfriend soon arrived. After another cocktail (and the shot - his brilliant idea), we decided to mosey on to see what Creme was all about. More on that in the appropriate area.

Other friends were already heading to Tabaq to meet us, thus Phase Two of our Tabaq experience. Oy.

We were strongarmed at the front door, instructed that our presence was not welcome on the roof due to a "private party." Slipping away from my group, now numbering five, I climbed up the four or so sets of stairs (really) to the roof. My "new pal" (ha!) Grant was unable to help, and the owner suddenly turned cold against me, in spite my ties to his country's most famous professional athlete. Hmph.

As I turned to go, I heard a shout of "Jenny!" from behind and spotted mdt, Jacques Gastreaux and Crackers enjoying a pleasantly located four-top, right in the midst of this so-called private party. It was funny in an embarassing way, but I was glad to see you guys all the same.

We retreated to the main floor, got a table and "enjoyed" the worst possible service. They seem to be seriously and woefully understaffed which is a shame because the place is nice and I enjoyed the food (and drink, many drinks) I consumed. Well, not the baklava. That didn't taste right to me, but the Gran Marnier souffle was quite good.

I *may* or may not have been a little tiny bit belligerent in my efforts to get my water glass filled. I can't recall.

Shortly thereafter, I staggered to BF's car. Oh, my head. The hangover is lifting; the embarassment remains. :P

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While enjoying the view from the roof top with the other cool people JG, crackers, and I each got a glass of wine and decided to share some dessert. We settled on a chocolate souffle ($11) and a lemon tart ($7). The souffle was overcooked and not worth the very high price tag. The lemon tart was served too cold for my liking, but was ok.

They seem to have a very bizzare seating policy there, and I am sure that the pretty college kids will enjoy the place.

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Service is not the strong suit here, that is for sure. Certain employees great arriving customers with confused, glazed over looks. It's bizarre.

That said, I do like the food (hummos al tabaq, an interesting cheese plate, anything with lamb) and find it to be much more reasonably priced than the drinks.

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First impressions of Tabaq bistro... We got there early for a drink in the roof bar, which was nice, though you are facing away from the nice view. We were able to switch our table for dinner to the roof area (as opposed to the lower level of the restaurant). Make sure to request the roof top tables, as the view etc. really is lovely. Downstairs (middle level?) was a bit bright for me. I think there is an even lower level, but we didn't go down there.

I liked the bread, which they serve with basil oil that was very nice. I enjoyed the lamb chop (two good sized chops) on a puree that was good for that bread. A seared tuna and mushroom dish was ok (small), not at all like described on the menu. Perhaps they gave us the wrong thing? We also had a shrimp dish that I can't remember the name, but I liked it. The shrimp is in phyllo with a very nice sauce. It was a good size for sharing. We also had stuffed mussels, which also were pretty good. Drinks were expensive, as expected, but I had an interesting drink made from the fruit in the vodka that you will see in big jars on the bar. It was very good, though WOW was that fruit strong when you get to it at the end.

Regarding service, we found some very friendly staff along the way, service was fine. One funny thing I noticed... there was some fumbling around with forks flying off tables, etc. I think some of it was caused by small and darkly lit tables. Even with our little plates of food, it was pretty crowded at the table. In the daylight the next day, I am sure they find many a missing fork, twist of bread, etc.

I would go back, for a fun dinner with a view, you can't beat it (sorry, Hotel Washington doesn't cut it food wise). I like the food better at Zatinya, but for a change it was fun.

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We (TasteDC) has a cooking class at Tabaq on the beautiful 5th floor with a fine view of DC, Saturday, October 8th, Noon to 2:30 PM, Daniel Labonne is doing the cooking demonstration, here's the menu (recipes will be included with the class), hope to see you foodies there:

-First course: Hummus A La Tabaq - Hummus with Lamb Sausage (Sucuk),

-Second course: Shrimp in Puff Pastry - Shrimp Sautéed with Mushrooms in Puff Pastry,

-Third course: Chicken Breast Stuffed with Apricots, Roasted Red Peppers and Parsley Served with a Pomegranate Dressing,

-Dessert course: Gran Marnier Soufflé

Please note: this is a seated demo class with above menu items served with wine.

More information and to purchase tickets (sorry, I know this is a plug, but I really want to get a great turnout for this event!) TasteDC.com

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I had dinner in Tabaq's red room on Friday. Overall, it is a pretty space with pretty good service and pretty good food.

I highly recommend the puffed shrimp--the phyllo is golden and fluffy, the shrimp and mushrooms are big and savory, and the sauce was just creamy enough without being overpowering.

The mushroom crepe was OK, but I don't think I'd order it again just because I'd rather try something new. The carmelized lemon tart had a nice texture, and the fruit that accompanied it was very appealing, but I spent more time with my friends' chocolate souffle and chocolate birthday cake. Maybe it was just my fault for branching out to lemon when the other girls were having chocolate.

I'd be happy to visit again, but there are options that are just as good if not better WAY closer to where I live! :lol:

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I've eaten a few times at Tabaq and always really enjoyed

the food, cocktails and ambiance. The reason I REALLY s

upport this kind of restaurant is:

1)14th and U needs revitalization,

2)There's little affordable real estate in the city for restaurants,

especially to own a site, and U St. will soon be too expensive as

well - in a nutshell, this is where the restaurant scene in DC is

going to go,

3)Adams Morgan nearby has become too much of a "bar" scene,

and although there are some great restauransts (Felix, Perry's, Mixtec),

if you've ever been to AM on the weekend, you'll know why food lovers

don't go there!

4)Creativity - U has an "urban" feel unlike Georgetown, Downtown,

Old Town, that makes it feel more artsy/edgy, and gives a city

character. I love Georgetown, but isn't it beginning to look like

an upscale mall with all the national retailers on the street? U St.

is great because it does NOT currently attract Benetton, Gap,

Banana Republic - it's not simply a tourist trap.

Now the question is, will Washington diners support this area?

Tabaq is making a smart move (in my opinion, of course!)

by trying to be different than many other restaurants in DC

by having a dress code (they don't want to be a "clubbers"

hang-out), a serious chef in a Super Cool space that has an

edge...I've been in the kitchen and I know Daniel Labonne,

and I can tell you that they have the ability to run a high-quality

restaurant that puts out great cuisine. And don't forget the

upstairs view of the city. The neighborhood has supported

Polly's and Coppi's for many years, but no restaurant has

gotten much restaurant review attention in the area until

Kuna's (history...), Al Crostino and now Tabaq Bistro...and

no, this area is not Logan Circle, it's truly a different market!

My bet is U St. will be the restaurant Hot Spot within 3 years, and places like Tabaq will become landmarks to the right way to redevelop an area...

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Tabaq is making a smart move (in my opinion, of course!)

by trying to be different than many other restaurants in DC

by having a dress code (they don't want to be a "clubbers"

hang-out)

Isn't having a dress code and a bouncer an integral part of being a "clubbers" hang-out?

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Isn't having a dress code and a bouncer an integral part of being a "clubbers" hang-out?

This place seems to be of the same mold as IndeBleu and Oya, reeking of trendiness. And how about the bouncers working the door and only allowing certain people into certain part of the place? Formal club? Maybe not, but 'clubby-type' hang-out? I think so.

And when the real estate prices on U St. increase then Benetton, Gap,

and the Banana Republic type of stores will be the only ones that can afford the rent. If the area attracts the crowds the chains will surely start popping up. Just give it time.

Edited by mdt
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And when the real estate prices on U St. increase then Benetton, Gap, and the Banana Republic type of stores will be the only ones that can afford the rent.  If the area attracts the crowds the chains will surely start popping up.  Just give it time.

It seems that 14th and U Street's revitilization is well underway. Whether it's headed in the right direction with places like Tabaq is open to debate. Tabaq and its ilk are contributing to the soaring real estate prices, and will undoubtedly be driving out the smaller restaurants and other shops in the process. The ones that made it a unique place. (Goodbye Sisterspace, goodbye La Casona). They will be replaced with "hip" places designed by marketing teams. With all the people flooding into the new condos and apartments who want to eat somewhere, most of the new places will get good traffic even if they are mediocre. So what is going to prevent U Street from soon resembling Adams Morgan, or even Georgetown? Starbucks is already there, Quiznos too, why wouldn't Gap and Barnes& Noble follow? Target wants to put up a 180,000 square foot building up the hill on 14th Street. PN Hoffman has been gobbling up a whole lot of property around the U Street Metro and wants to renovate warehouses and turn them into residential space. At 14th and V they're putting in an entire block of condos, with retail space at street level . . . "an urban oasis of condominiums with the neighborhood vibe built right in." :lol: At 13th and U another developer (Donatelli & Klein and Gragg & Associates) is developing a 186-unit apartment complex with still more retail space, and underground parking.

If people are impressed with the idea of dress code, and think what's going on at Tabaq is "great cuisine" (IMO that is stretching it a lot) and that a roof terrace with a retractable roof is "super cool", then Tabaq will stick around and other places able to afford the high rents will join it. (Personally, after one visit, I don't think I'd cross the street to go to Tabaq again.) Some will survive, some won't, as the neighborhood evolves. In the end, how is this any different than the evolution of Dupont or Adams Morgan?

post-46-1129057128_thumb.jpg

Edited by crackers
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Tom's take on Tabaq

Nutshell: Fantastic view from the roof deck, sophisticated decor, good food if you can pick through the numerous misfires from kitchen. And all of this adds up to ... 2.5 stars? :lol: I have not dined there yet, but I don't get 2.5 star food from reading the full review. I fear this will add more fire to the Tom-places-too-much-emphasis-on-the-surroundings debate. To wit:

With its endearing service and sexy scene, Tabaq would be a fun place to hang out even if the food were half as good as it is. Throw in its postcard views, and you've got yourself a night to remember.

How many of the stars come from the setting? 0.5? 1.0? 1.5?!? Compared to 1 stars Al Crostino and Dino? Discuss :P

Edit: spelling

Edited by TedE
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To answer my own question, there is in fact another restroom that is more easily accessed from the roof. Take the back stairs down one level (much better than heading to the lower level lounge) and you'll find both men's and ladies' rooms. What a relief!

After two fresa martinis, a glass of wine and a shot (yes, it was a belated birthday get-together), um, let's just say that I visited. :P

As for the review, I'm sure it will cause some discussion, but personally I enjoy the food. Tonight we had a sampling of previous favorites (hummos al Tabaq, lamb shank, etc.), but my friend also really liked the scallops and I thought the pastirna, tomato, feta and walnut dish was tasty. The stacked presentation was a little dated, but given that flavors, I was willing to overlook that.

The staff there must have recognized Tom because in spite of having staff see me engage in a lengthy conversation with one of the owners, the service has been a low point for me. Tonight, our server was just...blank. She spoke in this spooky monotone and never quite made eye contact. There weren't any big lapses, but it was still eerie and the service could not be confused for warm or professional.

Apologies for issues of spelling, agreement, tense changes, redundancies or just being boring. Now that I am another year older, I'm also inching ever closer to being a true lightweight. :lol:

Edited by JLK
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We were strongarmed at the front door, instructed that our presence was not welcome on the roof due to a "private party."  Slipping away from my group, now numbering five, I climbed up the four or so sets of stairs (really) to the roof.  My "new pal" (ha!) Grant was unable to help, and the owner suddenly turned cold against me, in spite my ties to his country's most famous professional athlete.  Hmph. 

For another disgruntled opinion, check out culocho's recent experience with her mother here.. I don't care how good the hummos or the view is, (and IMO, it ain't all that) why would anybody subject themselves to this kind of treatment more than once?

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For another disgruntled opinion, check out culocho's recent experience with her mother here..  I don't care how good the hummos or the view is, (and IMO, it ain't all that) why would anybody subject themselves to this kind of treatment more than once?

They need to decide on whether they want to be a club or a restaurant. Anyway, I think they will get the clientele that they deserve. Hey, wasn't something like that said at the Society? :lol:

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when presented with the following criteria from a friend visting over the weekend: inexpensive yet cool and hip, must be vegetarian friendly, must take reservations, some where near Ust and 14th, and not Jaleo and Zaytinya...Tabaq Bistro was about all I could come up with. So off we went.

I'll give Sietsema credit, the tables are tiny and the menu is impossible to read because it's so damn dark, but the view from the roof top was nice. I quickly skipped the frou-frou drink menu because, well it was too dark to read it, and asked what beers they had...from a list of 4 beers the Turkish Effs was the only thing drinkable. After we had figured out 3-4 dishes each to order we sat back and enjoyed the view.

Overall the food was pretty solid, but not great. The lamb shank with eggplant puree was tasty, although not as good as the Zaytinya version. The grilled tuna was rather sweet tasting from what I assume was the pomegranate dressing, but it was far too dark to see what I was exactly eating. Mushroom crepe not bad either, although it was lukewarm, food gets brought up to the roof top via dumbwaiter. The chef's special lamb (insert Southpark jokes here) was probably my favorite dish. The cheese platter of "Mediterranean Cheese" which went unidentified, contain something blue, something rubbery, and something that might have been manchego. and I liked the vegetarian pide. Both the hummus and babaganoush were servicable. and the spinach cigar was heavy on the cheese.

So I suppose Tabaq Bistro has it's place in the DC market, some place to go before hitting the clubs or bars, where you can be hip and trendy and get decent food without spending a lot. A place to go with out of towners who want to go to a "cool" restaurant but who don't really care about food too much. or a place that's inexpensive yet cool and hip, must be vegetarian friendly, must take reservations, some where near Ust and 14th, and not Jaleo and Zaytinya.

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Went to Tabaq on Saturday night for dinner with a few friends. The table on the rooftop provided a great view of DC, and made for an intimate setting...however, it was almost impossible to read the menu without holding it directly above the candles on the table. Yes, the drinks were expensive, but they offered some more unusual cocktail selections, which were nice to try out. (on a side note, plates of empty glasses by the bar must have broken very loudly all over the floor at least three times throughout the night. Once is a mistake, but 3 times!!)

Either our table all really really enjoyed the bread with basil olive oil dipping sauce, or we were starving; not quite sure since we had to sit for a while (around 20min) before having our orders taken. 3 of us all shared various tapas plates (shrimp, eggplant wrap, and a few other forgettable ones) that all more or less had the same temperature and texture. One of my friends ordered the kabab entree and loved it. It was also a very generous portion, so he offered some tastes to the rest of us. The kebab entree was by far the highlight of the night (other than the setting of the meal).

Would I go there again? Eventually. Anytime soon? Not likely. Overall impression? Average food meets "club" setting/vibe.

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After my friend closed on her new U St condo, a few of us headed up to Tabaq last night, a first visit for all of us. Though it must have been 9:30 or so, I was suprised at how uncrowded the place was. After initially steering us towards the nearly empty main floor dining room, I asked if they could squeeze the six of us upstairs, as I had heard about the great view. I figured on a gorgeous night like last night the upstairs would be packed, but we were fortunate that it was maybe only half-full!

The view is as good as advertised, with views of the Capitol and monuments clear in the distance. I was impressed with the food as well -- we split 10 or so dishes and nearly all were hits. The only real miss that comes to mind was the hummus. Our two other spreads, a roasted red pepper spread and (especially) an eggplant spread, were excellent. We enjoyed the basil olive oil as well, the twisty bread was certainly a highlight, and I don't think we missed having pitas at all.

As far as the other dishes, ones that I thought were worthing ordering again would be the beef turnover, lobster risotto with pomegranate seeds (use the bread to mop up the creamy sauce!), the Albanian liver, and spinach borek.

We didn't have any server problems in the slightest, though it never got to be incredibly busy at any point. Even with six people it was tough to pass around all the dishes with the limited table space.

Overall, I'm excited that my friend lives up the street, and I'd come back for another weeknight when the weather is beautiful. I'd probably stay away on a Fri or Sat night, but for a Thursday, it was grand.

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My friend and I visited there last night as well (in fact, I think we were headed out right when Roo arrived). While we shared Roo's enthusiasm of the view, we weren't quite as keen on our food.

Between the two of us we had the Spinach Cigar Borek (feta and spinach in phyllo), calamari kadaifi (fried calamari in shredded wheat), a duck breast dish whose name i can't remember and isn't on the online menu (morsels of duck in some sauce whose composition i don't know, with almonds), and the branzini (branzini filet with chermoula, almond-currant rice, and lobster sauce).

The feta in the spinach cigar was particularly overpowering for both of our tastes, to the point that we couldn't even place the flavor of the spinach. Also, our phyllo cigar ended up being quite soggy for some reason. The calamari dish was particularly oily and the shredded wheat on top didn't do too much to enhance the mouth feel of the dish. The duck wasn't particularly memorable as the sauce lacked any real flavor and the bits were overcooked. The branzini was probably the strongest of the dishes as the fish (though, once again slightly overcooked) was flaky and the flavors of the almond-currant rice were a great accompaniment to a well-seasoned piece of fish.

We liked the atmosphere, the space (though it's quite the hike up to the top), and the service...hopefully we just picked the wrong dishes or were experiencing a slightly off night!

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We went for brunch on Sunday. It was my first time at the restaurant. I was surprised at the moderate cost of the menu, with most items in the $7-12 range. The food was good as was the service. We had a couple of the Benedicts and the large breakfast platter. Be prepared for the four flights of stairs, though the view is worth it.

-Ed

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