Monday, August 29, 2011

AGORA offers delicious Turkish/Greek delicacies in Dupont Circle(DC) (8-28-11)

Last night, Will had a dinner date with a friend, so Samuel and I
headed to AGORA (17th Street NW & Q St which opened
just over a year ago in the same place where the late Boss Sheperd's
was located (and another not long-lived French bistro in-between as
well). I think AGORA will have staying power for several reasons.
There is a great patio which was jammed, but you may recall Samuel
detests sitting outside due to his fear of bugs!
We headed inside which was quite empty at 6pm, but filled up by the
time we left. The walls are cool dark brick and there is a long bar on
the right with a huge flat screen TV above it (the Nats game was on),
and the tables might be a bit too close in some places, but otherwise
it's comfy and tasteful.
Hot billowing pita came out with an oil dip with chopped olives in it,
which they called tapenade. It was yummy and Samuel gobbled up the
bread and oil, but the olives were hard to get out and many ended up
on the table; a small spoon might have been nice.
We ordered a bowl of tasty HTIPITI, a roasted red pepper tapenade with
feta cheese that was nice. Samuel liked the peppers, but would not
touch the feta, which I thought was the thing that made the dish much
The wine list here is quite large and there are some steeply priced
options, but the by the glass section has 22 choices and they come in
glass, 1/4 bottle and 1/2 bottle as well. I tried a wonderful dry
Turkish Rose CAL KARSI made from Syrah 2009 from Kavaklidere "Egeo."
As there were both Greek and Turkish items on the menu and wine list,
I asked our server if the owners were Turkish or Greek, and despite
the Greek name "Agora," it turned out they are Turkish, so I chose the
Turkish wines! My second wine was a SULTANA ANGORA 2009 from the same
winery in Denizil, Turkey and was also quite delicious.
I started with the Wild Caught OCTOPUS with Capers, Red Onion,
Parsley, Diced Tomato, Olive Oil and Sherry Wine Vinegar. It had a
great intense lemony flavor as well, as many of the dishes do here.
The meat was tender and the dish was quite large; the dishes here are
more tapas style and prices around $7-15 depending on the ingredients.
It's a great fish/salad starter that rivals any other octopus salad
Samuel chose the MANTI-a big mistake. It was Meat filled mini-raviolis
topped with Garlic Yogurt and a Red Pepper Sauce with some dried mint.
He eats little yogurt (and always sweet kiddie stuff at that) so even
though he loves garlic, he didn't want any of that! It covered about
1.3 of the mini raviolis which he did eat, but it was impossible to
get him to even try the red pepper sauce which was truly a tasty
tapenade that he would have loved (he adores tapenades!). I finally
finished his dish and insisted he try again (or no Coke)...and he did
eat up 90% of the KOFTE which are small burger-like lamb and beef
patties beautifully seasoned over a garlic pita with sumac onions and
grilled tomato. The bread was a bit lame, and he didn't want the
veggies...but we did fine.
I had the Grilled Filet of Boneless BRANZINO over Olive Bread with
Grilled Lemon. Again the bread was worthless and a bit crusty, but the
fish was superb, especially once I squeezed that tasty grilled lemon
with seasoning all over.
I wanted something like dessert and our server had gone so well with
the Branzino, I took her other idea and had the appetizer of HELLIM
Cheese. This cheese is a full fat Famagusta (Cyprus) goat cheese which
is pan seared and comes out more like a firm cheese stick. It is
served with thyme, toasted almonds and a sweet fig jam that makes the
dish a perfect dessert. I had a nice glass of VERDECA which she
suggested and again it was a nice dry choice (albeit from Italy!).
Overall, we enjoyed the food and while the pita is amazing, it seems
the only real bad thing is the bread that comes UNDER some of the