A few weeks back Supreet, Shelly and I went to brunch at Agora, a Turkish restaurant in D.C. I have not been to too many Turkish restaurants, but I once went to a smaller deli-style Turkish spot in northern Virginia, and it had the most lovely, soft pitas I've ever had. Supreet has been to Turkey and while she thoroughly enjoyed the food at Agora, she recommended that I check out Yayla Bistro, which she says has quite a few dishes that she remembers from Turkey and they serve you a nice shot of Raki, a licorice flavored Turkish drink.
But, I digress, so, on this particular Saturday we went to Agora and unanimously decided to go with the bottomless brunch, because we wanted to try out all the different spreads, and hot and cold mezzes that they had to offer on the brunch menu.
My absolute favorite was the Baba Ghanouj, probably the best eggplant spread I've had. It was perfectly seasoned and had this wonderful garlic flavor - and we all know I love garlic, I put in two orders and sure enough they came served with this wonderfully soft, fresh out of the oven bread. Delicious! Here are a few of the other highlights from our Turkish brunch.
Beet and Orange Salad - I almost want to try making this at home. Red beets, oranges, fresh thyme, and onions, tossed in an orange blossom vinaigrette.
In the middle of the table we had one cheese and one spread. Goat Cheese mixed with black caraway seeds and served with honey. This was ok. The spread was Labneh, strained yogurt with garlic confit and zaatar (a Middle Eastern spice mix of dried herbs, sumac and sesame seeds). But, my absolute favorite was still the baba ghanouj.
At the bottom of the picture is the Imam Bayildi - baby eggplant stuffed with onions, tomatoes, fresh oregano, pine nuts, and garlic. I really enjoyed this hot mezze. The eggplant was so soft it was easy to cut through and the filling was so full of flavor.
While most of the menu was vegetarian, we did order the Turkish Pastirma - imported cured loin of beef with olive oil drizzed over the top. The cured meat had such a unique flavor. The three of us sat around trying to figure out exactly what it was, the best we could come up with is that it had this pickled flavor that is common in Indian aachaar, which is so strange, because that's like saying the cured meat tasted like pickled vegetables. I think it may have been the particular spices used in the curing process. The meat is so thin that the spices permeate the entire meat.
In all I would rate the brunch a B. No complaints, but not completely wowed.