Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Ankara Restaurant Food Review

Adana Kebab with French Fries

Restaurant Week opened on the heels of a massive blizzard; but when it comes to eating out, it's gonna take a lot more than two feet of snow to slow me down. That said, there's nothing wrong with staying close to home. Ankara Restaurant is just two Metro stops away (Dupont Circle) and I've been itching to visit, since they opened last May. Decision made: Turkey, here I come.

It was late (after 2 PM) so I called ahead, and made a reservation for 2:30. The employee who answered the phone, was very pleasant; and I couldn't wait to get there. In addition to their regular menu, Ankara was offering a three course meal for the aforementioned Restaurant Week. That means your choice of appetizer, entree and dessert for just $22. To be frank, I prefer fewer choices... Otherwise, I might be tempted to order multiple meze, and wind up stuffed before dessert arrives.


Ankara offers three choices for first course, and I settled on Ezme over Hummus. It comes with housemade bread (hot and fluffy) and despite a lack of promised heat, tastes absolutely delicious. Ditto for the olive oil (I forgot to ask where it comes from... it was amazing) which I strongly suggest dipping the bread into beforehand. It's supposed to be a spicy blend of tomatoes, green peppers, onions, parsley and hot pepper; but as I said, there wasn't much heat. It was incredibly fresh however, with plenty of flavor. Save for a bland pickle, you couldn't ask for more.

Unlike Ankara's predecessor (Levante's) service was super fast and friendly. Granted, it was a late lunch and there wasn't the usual noontime crowd to contend with; but I didn't have to wait more than a minute or two between courses. Getting a window seat (close to a heater) didn't hurt either; and Ankara's traditional Turkish music soundtrack provided just the right amount of authenticity. Kudos also for a clean, cozy and well-lit dining room.

Exquisite Baklava

My second course was an Adana Kebab (grilled minced beef and lamb, advertised as slightly spicy.) The heat comes from a scrumptious marinade on the meat (more please!) and comes with crispy & piping hot Steak Fries... almost good enough to challenge Medium Rare for Best in DC. Even the salad toppings were impressive, especially the juicy, flash-grilled tomato. Every element on the plate was tasty and well-prepared... and good great enough to come back for (again and again.)

Lunch wrapped up in impressive style, courtesy of two pieces of to-die-for Baklava and a decorative dollop of delectable whipped cream (whew, that's a lot of Ds.) The latter was light and sweet, while the former packed just enough pistachio filling to keep up with multiple layers of perfectly fried phyllo dough. Even better, they had the good sense to go easy on the honey: Overly sweet desserts invoke guilt, no? Lastly, they provide a mint and moist towelette with your check: Talk about finishing touches!

Overall, it's hard to imagine a better start to Restaurant Week. Ankara knocked my first lunch out of the park... and got me out in just over a half an hour, to boot. I was sad to see Levante's close; but after one visit, Ankara appears faster, friendlier and just as tasty. Needless to say, the future looks bright.