Ezmè vs. Agora
How do you choose between two restaurants with similar menus and locations? My usual strategy is to go to the experts, which include bonafide critics and the wannabes on Chowhound.
So when two meze restaurants opened in Dupont Circle recently, I pondered the menus and wondered whether I should attempt to make a decision on my own. The thought made my head spin.. Nothing about the websites or menus presented a clear choice.
So, I posted a question to Todd Kliman of Washingtonian, who hosts weekly restaurant chats. Ezmè or Agora? His response: “too soon to tell.” I posted the question on Chowhound. The response: “it’s a toss up.”
Forced to make a decision on my own, I decided to try them both.
First Ezmè. The décor is nothing fancy- some tiles on the exposed brick walls and a few other decorations which half-heartedly evoke a Middle Eastern feel.
I love when a meal starts off with some great bread. It just gets everything off to a satisfying start. At Ezmè the bread is undistinguished, and it comes without any accompaniments. Our order of babaganush came a few minutes later. It was tasty but the portion was teensy.
Don’t get me wrong. Some of the dishes were yummy including dolmas, Sebse Begendi (vegetable delight), and veggie lentil cakes. Others were pretty good including grilled lamb, and a grilled whole bream fish. But the salmon kabob was overcooked and a bit disappointing.
And basically, the small plates were just a little too small. I would rather pay a bit more for each dish and end up with bigger portions. Overall, the meal was decent, but nothing memorable to compel me to return.
Note: Ezmè had some very reasonably priced tasting menus that are probably a good way to go. The problem for me is that many of the dishes contained walnuts and one thing to know about my food preferences- NO NUTS IN MY FOOD. (The only exception is pine nuts but they aren’t really a nut.)
Ezmè, 2016 P Street, NW
My rating (on a 1-5 scale): 3
Washington Post quick take
The highlight of the evening was our stroll to Dolcezza Artisanal Gelato.
This is gelato and sorbet at its finest. The flavors are unique, the textures sublime.
Now this is what I call destination dining. Flavors include pineapple honey lime, plum, lemon ricotta cardamom, and a dark chocolate fudge that was so intense it took me by surprise. I can’t wait to go back as there were so many intriguing flavors to explore.
Dolcezza Artisanal Gelato 1704 Connecticut Ave NW
My rating (on a 1-5 scale): 5.5 (it’s my rating scale, I’m allowed)
Agora is on the funkier side of Dupont Circle. The benefit to this location (vs. Ezmè ) is that it’s near the DC Jewish Community Center, where we find ourselves at least every couple of months. So I wanted to like it. The good news is that I did.
I can’t really remember the bread at Agora, but I know that I liked it and that it was served warm. We ordered two spreads, htipti and cacik, and enjoyed both. The kasar cheese was a little bland but the orange marmalade on the side was delicious. Kasik and beet salads were both winners- fresh and flavorful. The scallop dish was well-prepared and the charcoal smoked eggplant was a nice accompaniment.
The things that I like better about Agora are: the menu is more creative, the portions are a little larger, and the atmosphere has a better vibe.
1527 17th Street NW
My rating (on a 1-5 scale): 4
My verdict: Agora is the winner of Turks vs. Turks. Since Agora is close to the DCJCC (and I like the food) I know we’ll be back. Since Ezme is close to Dolcezza Artisanal Gelato, it’s not out of the question. And it’s always nice to have more vegetarian-friendly options in the area.
Urbanspoon on Ezme
Urbanspoon on Agora