Ottoman Taverna - A true Turkish delight!
Ottoman Taverna is the latest restaurant by restaurateur Hakan Ilhan in the Mount Vernon triangle neighborhood, where he also runs Alba Osteria and L’Hommage Bistro. Hakan runs over 20 restaurants, eateries, and gourmet markets in the area, but he waited a long time before opening one fashioned after his own Turkish roots. Why, you ask? He wanted to get it right.
And get it right he did!
Now, I’m no food critic, I just love food, but considering FLOTUS has already endorsed Ottoman Taverna within its first month of operation, you know this is the place to be!
The décor jumped out at me the minute I walked in. The restaurant is beautiful and grand, with a large, airy space. The gorgeous bar is made of Turkish marble, a large mural of the Hagia Sofia adorns a wall, and there are design elements from Turkey throughout the restaurant. Stunning is the first word that came to mind when I walked in.
First things first, drinks. The bar features a wine list mostly with wines from what was the Ottoman Empire – Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Lebanon, Croatia, etc, and is HUGE. The cocktail list is also fun– I enjoyed the “Turquaz” with mezcal, beet extract and lime juice. Also, raki – that hugely potent drink is available for the brave! (Raki cocktails too for those interested).
I enjoyed my drinks alongside a variety of classic hot and cold mezzes. The chef’s choice platter includes a lovely selection of different spreads including hummus, muhammara, yogurt dip. But one of the most interesting (and not seen often) item on it was the chicken dip – which we thoroughly enjoyed with warm bread. Additionally, the sigara boregi (phyllo with feta and herbs), the stuffed grape leaves, and the mucver (zucchini pancakes) were all fresh and delicious. Another of my favorite appetizers was the slow cooked artichoke hearts – they were a perfectly smooth texture and were fantastic!
Main courses are no joke either. The group at the table enjoyed the Iskender kebab (thinly sliced lamb and beef served with pita and a tomato and yogurt sauce), the moussaka (eggplant, ground beef and béchamel sauce) and the Kayseri Mantisi (ground beef ravioli with garlic yogurt, dill, and paprika butter). The ravioli was a standout!
Pro Tip: More like a word of warning – the main course portion sizes are huge! So if you are like me and go all out on the mezzes, plan to share the main course!
For dessert, one of my favorites was on offer! The “kunefe” – a pastry that is filled with a mild cheese, fried, and then soaked in syrup was absolutely divine. I enjoyed it with a cup of strong Turkish coffee and a raki that was served in a beautiful presentation!
Ottoman Taverna brings a level of refinement to Turkish cooking, while maintaining the traditional cooking methods and delicious flavors. The food was elegant and highly enjoyable and came with a side of warm Turkish hospitality. The prices, while higher than a standard Turkish restaurant, are fully worth the excellent quality of food and service that you receive.
Pro Tip: It is also perfect for large groups – ask for the Sultan’s Table!
Ottoman Taverna is open for dinner, lunch, brunch, and happy hour. Check out their website HERE for more details.