MOUTHWATERING MEZE The Bistro offers simple, delicious dishes.
MOUTHWATERING MEZE The Bistro offers simple, delicious dishes.

4/5 Stars

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As a way of celebrating the fact that my friend and I were both without valentines on the actual day, we decided to be each other’s valentines and go out for a fancy dinner where we could both get dressed up. We were insistent on finding a restaurant with a very romantic, yet low-key, feel that serves food tasty enough to make up for being single on the day of love. With these criteria, we happily stumbled upon Rosemary’s Thyme Bistro. Rosemary’s is a modest and homey Mediterranean restaurant located a few blocks from Dupont Circle.

Shaded by large green trees, the restaurant itself seems tucked away, perfect for an intimate dinner or just a meal with a friend. However, upon entering its doors, a lively little alcove can be seen. With its large windows, open space and dark cherry wood furniture, the restaurant has a very warm and inviting ambiance, especially during the night. On each table rests a soft, flickering yellow candle, which provides a relaxing atmosphere for conversation to freely flow. Take note, gentlemen: Rosemary’s is a hidden delight to take your valentine to next year — one where you’ll be able to woo your date without breaking the bank.

Rosemary’s is genuinely and authentically Mediterranean, treating its customers not like strangers but like long-lost family members. All of the friendly wait staff spoke Turkish and were kind enough to teach us some phrases. The waiters and waitresses even offered to take our coats and hang them up, just as if we were guests in their home. Besides the offered seating area, the restaurant also had a bar with patrons who were just watching the news and making themselves at home. This is the quintessential neighborhood restaurant with the friendliest people possible.

Previously, Rosemary’s won OpenTable.com’s Diners’ Choice Award in both 2011 and 2012. And as expected, the food on the whole was just as enjoyable as the restaurant’s ambiance. First on the menu for us was delicious homemade bread with garlic paired with olive oil. The bread had a deliciously crunchy crust and a delectably soft center. Only when there was one piece of bread left in the basket did we realize that we were almost too stuffed to eat our actual meals.

For our appetizer, we ordered a cured salmon meze. Mezes are traditional Mediterranean dishes meant for sharing with others. The raw salmon was extremely fresh, although its combination of lemon dill sauce and capers was a bit too sour. When the salmon was eaten in combination with the bread, however, it produced a more subtle taste.

For my main course, I had the rolled timballo, which is a rolled pasta dish with spinach, red peppers and a variety of cheeses in a tomato sauce. It was beautifully presented; there were two lasagna-type rolls sliced in such a way that the different colorful layers were on display with a dark, rich, tomato-red sauce surrounding it. My first taste of this dish, with pieces of the pasta, cheeses and sauce all in one bite, was full of flavor. The saltiness of the cheese contrasted well with the fresh tartness of the tomato sauce. My friend’s dish was equally mouth-watering. She had the grilled chicken breast topped with a great bourbon glaze sauce. Served with angel hair pasta, the dish was almost as good as mytimballo.

With its filling, homemade bread and generous food portions on large plates, the restaurant’s prices are not very steep. With all the dishes we ordered we had to take half of our main dishes home with us because it was too much food to have at once. Although the leftovers did not taste as good as the meals did in the restaurant — probably from the lack of inviting ambiance — the leftovers were still good enough to enjoy.

This restaurant is definitely one that everyone should try. In situations of homesickness or casual romantic dates, Rosemary’s is the perfect destination.

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