Saturday, January 18, 2014

Agora Restaurant Food Review

Kofte Wrap with Thyme Fries

Restaurant Week doesn't mean you have to buy from the special menu at Agora Restaurant. That's good news, especially when you consider the flexibility and plethora of choices available a la carte. Agora, an Adams Morgan favorite, specializes in Mediterranean Fusion (with a nod to Turkish cuisine) and the 170-seater is often full. What better place to visit with my vegan brother and our "I'll eat anything" father?

It was too cold to sit in the outdoor patio; pushing us inside Agora's dark but cozy interior. The space is anchored by a grand bar on the right side and red brick (with a couple of barred windows) on the left. Service is for the most part impressive, although the food runner could use a few lessons in presentation and subtleness. Dropping a plate in the middle of our table, and snapping "hummus" isn't my idea of setting the mood, yet alone the table.

Patlican Kozleme

Ordering was a breeze; although I missed Agora's regular $14.99 Lunch Special (sandwich, spreads, soda & dessert) which was eliminated this week only (for the aforementioned Restaurant Week.) We asked for two appetizers - Hummus ($6.50) and Patlican Kozleme, eggplant, green & red peppers, olive oil, garlic, parsley, dill & lemon juice for $7. Presentation for both was beautiful, although the tiny portion of hummus was downright insulting. Charge $3 more, and double the amount (hummus is a snap to make in bulk.) The eggplant was sensational, and I'd gladly order it again (and again.) The hummus however, had just a sprinkle of paprika, and too much oil. It was also pretty flavorless (where's the heat?)


Pita bread was hot and delicious, served three pieces at a time (our servers were only too happy to bring more... Teşekkür ederim!) Once again, Agora gets an A for presentation (you should see how they serve tea.) Our sandwiches arrived soon after, Kofte Wrap for me, Lamb for Dad & Grilled Vegetable for Brian. You don't get much more Turkish than Kofte, and Agora's is tasty... although not necessarily generous with the amount of lamb and beef kebap. It comes with great looking Thyme Fries (or salad) for just $9, and could become a new favorite of mine. Great flavor on the meat, and the wrap was warmed perfectly with a fresh salad tucked inside. Again, not enough meat for a carnivore like me; but I'd be cool with $2 more, if it meant more kofte.

Pita Bread

Fries were plenty zesty, but bordering on cold. My gut tells me they were sitting on the pass for a few extra minutes. As far as atmosphere goes, Agora appears to hit a home run. Noise is reduced to a level where you feel like you're nestled in a deep booth in the back, instead of smack dab in the middle of the restaurant. Even past 2:30 PM, two-thirds of the tables were full; and the crowd looks smart. I was also impressed with the fact that you never feel rushed... no early plate removals, reminders about the check or dessert. It's possible to enjoy a nice 1 1/2 hour lunch without feeling pressure from staff to clear your table.

The food (minus the hummus) seemed to be a big hit with the family. Tony (our Dad) couldn't wait to come back to try something new... and Agora's varied menu has more than a few choices for all of us, yet alone Tony. Lahmacun anyone? A Htipiti appetizer? Yes to both, and more I assume.