CONNIE YANG/THE HOYA
CONNIE YANG/THE HOYA

While Georgetown epicureans enjoy a reliable purveyor of Mediterranean cuisine in nearby Neyla, life is to short to miss an occasional venture to Dupont Circle’s Ezme, a Turkish tapas and wine bar, where the personal service and lively — yet intimate — atmosphere highlight the conviviality of tapas dining.

After walking through Ezme’s nondescript entryway, the first thing anyone is bound to notice is the cascading array of wine bottles adorning the walls. With three times the acreage of vineyards of South Africa, Turkey has some considerable liquid ruby to share with the world of wine-lovers, and Ezme is proud to display it.

Once inside, our hostess made an immediate impression — perhaps the defining impression of the evening. In addition to recommending a rich Pinot Noir, the ideal complement to the array of savory Mediterranean meats on the menu, she advised us about the best dishes for sharing and did not shy away from telling us what we shouldn’t order. Considering the menu is overwhelmingly extensive, this touch was a great help. She even insisted that all of us enjoy our dishes as sharing plates, discouraging us from ordering independently.

The first of the dishes, muhammara, a roasted red pepper spread with walnut, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic, arrived promptly and foreshadowed the perfect balance of spice — noticeable and persistent, but not overpowering — that would make most Ezme dishes so enjoyable. The babaganoush, a classic Mediterranean eggplant spread, was satisfying but unspectacular. Fights broke out over the last drops of muhammara while much of the babaganoush was left to an unknown fate.

Similarly, the biftek, a strip steak topped with sauteed onions and mushrooms, was served simply as an underwhelming pile of beef. We secretly wished the hostess had steered us away from this one. The karides kebap, a skewer of seasoned, grilled shrimp served with a cocktail sauce, was a delicious sample delicacy of the Mediterranean Sea, while the sis kebab, a skewer of grilled and seasoned lamb served with yogurt sauce, won universal acclaim at our table.

The culinary pinnacle of the meal, however, was the kofte, a selection of grilled beef and lamb meatballs seasoned with parsley and onions. It seemed that the kitchen had put extra care into seasoning this particular dish to make up for the blandness of the biftek.

Ezme offers a variety of tasting menus that, while removing the conviviality of the tapas experience, are of excellent value. The generous five-course chef’s tasting menu, which features such Mediterranean favorites as kofte, muhammara and doner kebaps, runs at $45, while the four-course tasting menu costs $35.

Ezme is also vegetarian- and vegan-friendly: Its menu explicitly identifies options that satisfy vegan needs, and a vegetarian tasting menu is offered for $35. All tasting menus come with optional wine pairings for an additional $15-$20.

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