Name: Ottoman Taverna
Vitals: 425 I St. NW. 202-847-0395.
Neighborhood: Mount Vernon Square
Description: An edible and visual trip to Turkey
Ambiance: A sunny day on the Bosphorus, catching up with friends or your date
Previously: N/A
Owners: Hakan Ilhan (Alba Osteria, L'Hommage Bistro Francais, Al Dente)
Chef: Ilhan Erkek
Opens: May 2 for dinner; lunch and brunch will debut at a later date

The food

"I thought it was time to do a good justice to Turkish cuisine," said Hakan Ilhan, whose Italian restaurant Alba Osteria and French spot L'Hommage Bistro Francais are both within a block of Ottoman Taverna. Never before now had he felt ready to tackle the food of his home country, and part of that was finding the right chef -- in this case a fellow Istanbul native, Ilhan Erkek. The food, Ilhan said, is a largely traditional take on what you'd find in restaurants in Turkey, with a slightly modern twist. Expect kebabs cooked on a charcoal grill and flatbreads (pide) baked in a wood-burning oven. In addition to main courses such as moussaka, sumac-crusted salmon and braised lamb, the menu features sections with cold (hummus, stuffed grape leaves) and hot (feta-and-parsley-stuffed pastries, lamb and beef kofte) mezze. Erkek said the 50 or so items on offer are meant to appeal to a wide array of diners, including vegetarians, vegans and gluten-free eaters.

The drinks

Wines from Turkey, Greece, Lebanon, Israel, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia and California. There are more than 20 wines available by the glass. Efes, a Turkish beer, will be available on tap.

The space

The inside, with seating for 160, is a stunner, thanks to Matt Norris of Norris Design in Atlanta. You'll quickly forget you're in downtown Washington instead of Istanbul, with decorative elements including a display of blue glass evil eyes, repeating patterns of hexagons and a mural featuring the famous Hagia Sophia basilica. A white trellis arcs over a Turkish marble bar illuminated from the inside. The space also offers several areas that can be closed off for private dining, plus a 12-seat "Sultan's Table." In warm weather, the patio can accommodate 40 diners.

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