For months, restaurant watchers have been waiting for Morso. The Turkish-inspired Mediterranean spot had planned a launch in September 2009. It was postponed to "spring 2010," then more specifically to sometime in May.
You could get hungry waiting for chef Ed Witt, a veteran of Jardiniere in San Francisco and Daniel in New York, to open. And so, in the meantime, there's Morso Express, which was planned along with the main restaurant.
The tiny takeout, with mod wood-and-chrome stools and an arresting red glass mosaic wall, occupies the spot where Fettoosh once stood in Georgetown and is a few doors down from where the restaurant will be. If Morso Express is any sign of what's to come, the main restaurant will have been worth the wait.
The Express menu is simpler than what Witt, a Maryland native, has planned for the more formal dining room. Instead of raki-cured salmon with sea beans and Meyer lemon yogurt, there are salads, wraps and Turkish flatbreads called pides.
Happily, simple doesn't equal forgettable. The pides have a flavorful, chewy crust and are filled with thoughtful mixes of ultra-fresh ingredients: a blend of flavorful Swiss chard and goat cheese ($7) and one with chicken, mild green chili peppers, chopped tomato and Turkish aged sheep's-milk cheese called kashar ($8). The wraps are made with Italian double-zero flour, which creates a delicate enclosure that doesn't overwhelm the excellent fillings -- lamb and pistachio ($8) or red lentil patties ($7), for example -- or creative toppings that include sumac-spiced onions, tahini-yogurt sauce and pomegranate syrup.
Tart pomegranate brightens many of the salads. It's the main ingredient in the lovely dressings on the Turkish salad, which includes crunchy cucumbers, peppers, tomato and parsley ($7), and the mixed greens with roasted peppers, olives, feta and lemon ($7). If you want to eat lightly, you also can make a meal with a mix of meze side dishes. Our favorites: the thick cucumber tzatziki ($4) and the perfectly seasoned jumbo white bean salad ($5).
-- Jane Black (Good to Go, April 14, 2010)