Tom Sietsema wrote about Ezme for a May 2010 First Bite column.
When someone crushes a pistachio or purees a tomato in Turkey, the action is referred to as "ezme." A quick study of the menu of the restaurant and wine bar that replaced the original Pesce this spring makes clear why brothers Yavuz and Harun Bolukbasi christened their latest effort Ezme: Among the dozens of small plates on their Turkish script in Dupont Circle are plenty of ingredients that have been mashed (chickpeas for hummus), chopped (grilled eggplant for a salad) or reduced to a pulp (tomato relish with chicken kebab).
Yavuz manages, Harun cooks. The siblings are not new to the scene; their other interests are Meze, a nine-year-old Turkish restaurant in Adams Morgan serving similar dishes, and the French-inspired Bistro Cacao on Capitol Hill. The brothers also have some nearby competition in the form of the just-launched Agora (formerly Jack's) on 17th Street NW.
Turkish food: Do we smell a trend in the making, something to take our minds off cupcakes, burgers and Twitter blasts from roving food trucks? At Ezme, the genial service and the muhammara, a zesty paste of roasted red peppers and walnuts, suggest that more Turkish food would be a good thing. Small plates include classics such as doner kebab and manti, and are found under headings such as "Garden," "Land" and "Air." Ground chicken meatballs fall in that last category, prompting a pal to crack, "When's the last time you saw a chicken fly?" The dish is plenty satisfying, as is the pillowy bread with which we eat it.
The dining room is small, with about 50 seats. The setting is moodier than that of Pesce, which migrated a few storefronts away. Wine is displayed everywhere, and there is an illuminated onyx bar in the rear. Yavuz figures he has 36 cases of wine stored in reclaimed wood supports on the walls. All those bottles look swell, but isn't he worried about exposing them to excessive light and heat? "At the end of summer," he says, "I can give you a better answer."
Small plates, $4.95-$9.95.
(May 5, 2010)