A few months ago PoP asked for some opinions on Tabaq Bistrolocated at 1336 U Street. A few people proclaimed love for Tabaq and a few, contempt. I’ve only eaten here a handful of times, but I’ve always sort of fallen somewhere in the middle. I like it, and I always have a pretty good experience, but I never really feel blown away. In discussing with a friend the other day we decided that although we both like Tabaq, it tends to leave both of us feeling sort of whelmed. Not overwhelmed, not underwhelmed, just, whelmed.
Most recently I was at Tabaq for a friend’s birthday party (Happy Birthday L!), which was lovely, and maybe one of the best experiences I have had there. There were about 30 of us, and we were able to reserve the downstairs room, “The Red Lounge.” I was not in charge of making reservations, but from what I understand the process was really simple and the restaurant was easy to work with and very accommodating of our plans. The space was perfect for the event, and our server, despite only being two weeks into the job, was great.
And speaking of servers, I’ve heard a lot of people say that they have had awful service at Tabaq; long waits, rude wait staff, screwed up orders. With that, I have to strongly disagree. Perhaps I’ve been lucky, but in my visits to Tabaq I have never had bad service. I’ve only ever gone there with a reservation, but I have never had to wait longer than ten minutes for my table to be ready, I’ve always had a pretty attentive server and I’ve never received the wrong order from the kitchen.
As far as the food goes, in the past I have always opted to order a couple of small plates for my meal. They are, in my opinion, kind of hit or miss and some are way better than others. The prices are fairly reasonable, though I do feel that some of the more expensive small plates are a little too small for the price you pay. Most are between $5 and $10, with a few fancier items, like baby octopus, seafood risotto (which I really like) and a charcuterie plate reaching into the $11-$15 range. Continues after the jump.
This time I decided to skip the small plates try out one of the main dishes, the Adana Kebab. This, I actually thought, was excellent. The meat was tender and flavorful and the portion was definitely appropriately sized for the price. This was probably the best meal I have enjoyed at Tabaq, and better than any of the small dishes I have ever had there. There is, however, a chance that my delight in this meal may be due in part to the fact that I have been subsisting on a diet very heavy in beans, pasta and tuna fish lately. But anyway, it was really good, I ate every last bite, and I would most certainly order it again. Though this particular dish was a hit for me, a friend ordered the Tabaq Chicken, which, though beautifully presented and tasty enough, again left me feeling sort of, well, whelmed.
So, all in all, I give this place a thumbs up. Take that for what you will, as I do not in any way claim to be a “foodie,” or experienced in the art of fine dining. I mean, my favorite restaurant of all time is Pollo Sabroso. So, maybe I have no idea what I am talking about, or maybe I’ve just been fortunate to have always hit it on a good night. Either way, Tabaq will stay among my list of restaurants to visit when I have a few extra bucks to spend, or when I want to impress an out of towner with some pretty views of the city.