A Little Bit of Turkey

Review: Tabaq Bistro

My brother had just gotten in from Salt Lake City coming in from his latest assignment during my business trip to DC last week. As I had not seen him in ages – and neither most of our family in DC – we decided to meet up for dinner in the U Street corridor the night before I returned to Philadelphia.

My cousin picked this restaurant because other than hearing good things about it, it had a retractable roof and good drinks. But I was totally in the mood for Turkish, my brother was willing to give it a go (he had never had it) and given my experiences with Konak in Philadelphia, I figure we couldn’t go wrong. The restaurant is easily accessible taking the S1, S2, S4 up 16th Street and walking a few east on U Street or taking the Metro to Columbia Heights.

We walked in around 7:45pm, and I was initially delighted to see happy hour went until 9pm. That is, until we got to the rooftop (you could choose where to sit in the five floor restaurant) and discovered that the HH didn’t apply if you opted to sit on the roof. Would have been nice to know that. In any case, we took our seats upstairs and ordered drinks. As I was on a strict diet (and hydration control) due to my marathon training I abstained from alcohol. (I had already had my one drink for the week, any more puts me at risk for dehydration and my long runs are Saturday mornings.) My brother and cousin however had blueberry ales ($5) to start off with and we all shared the cigar borek (5.25), similar to spanakopita except wrapped like a normal wrap in phyllo dough. The appetizer was good even if the rolls themselves were a little tiny, but that’s to be expected of a restaurant that serves tapas style.

We all amazingly opted for the main course, the seafood brochette ($20), grilled shrimp with scallop kebab, and steamed rice, sauteed vegetables, lemon, dill, and shellfish sauce. The dish was a little…salty. The sauce was the one thing that had the three of us scratching our heads, it was to the point my cousin wondered if it had gone bad. Personally I wasn’t sure what to make of it, it didn’t smell weird, but I did notice it was incredibly salty, definitely past what I preferred in a salty substance. The rest of the dish was fine, though my cousin was quick to criticise how the scallops were cooked although I didn’t notice anything unusual about the seafood in my dish. All in all, I think we probably all should have gone with another dish, none of us had gotten sick from eating this dish, but even so, I don’t see myself picking this one again. To me, the sauce ruined it.

Even then, being as hungry as I was, I had wound up eating the dish voraciously, trying to leave out the sauce when I could.

As my cousin was stuffed, she opted to skip dessert. My brother went for the classic profiterole, choux pastry, vanilla ice cream and hot chocolate sauce ($7) and I opted for the pistachio and walnut baklava ($7.50) with vanilla ice cream and strawberries. Both of us loved our desserts, my cousin hated baklava so she skipped my dish in favour of splitting my brother’s dessert with him.

Overall, not really sure what to think. To give a fair assessment, I’d probably come here for happy hour and try the pure vegetarian fare and skip the meat here altogether if I were to ever come back. I’m not sure. But that dish, that sauce, just a little over the top I’m afraid. Unfortunately looking at my brother, he didn’t really care for the main course, I’m just hoping this experience didn’t totally turn him off from Turkish food altogether. Guess I owe him a trip to Konak’s in Philly. This place definitely doesn’t have anything on Konak back home.

Restaurant Info:

Tabaq Bistro | 1336 U Street NW | Washington, DC 20009 | 202.265.0965 | Website

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