Agora appointed Ghassan Jarrouj as Executive Chef, the new 170-seat Turkish restaurant opening on May 24th at 1527 17th Street, NW. The restaurant serves lunch, dinner and weekend brunch on Saturday and Sunday. The all-small plate menu at Agora include Turkish and Greek flavors. Dishes are priced from $5 to $13 and guests dining at Agora can also anticipate fresh olive oil bottled on Guler’s family farm in Foca, Turkey.
A Lebanese native, Ghassan Jarrouj brings 35 years of experience preparing Mediterranean cuisine. Most recently he served as executive chef of the authentic Lebanese restaurant Sitti in Raleigh, North Carolina. Jarrouj’s career also includes working in various kitchens on both coasts including La Rue, a four-time Silver Spoon winning restaurant in San Francisco. Additionally, he served as the personal chef for three US ambassadors to Lebanon in Beirut from 1987 to 1996. In recent years, Jarrouj served as executive chef in two of Washington’s most elite Mediterranean kitchens: Neyla from 2000 to 2006, and Taverna Kefi in Wheaton, Maryland from 2008 to 2009.
At Agora, Jarrouj showcases a menu that highlights signature Turkish fare with a majority of small plates prepared in the wood-fired oven and charcoal-fired grill. For starters, delicious Spreads include Cacik: Yogurt, cucumber, dill, vinegar, garlic, olive oil; Taromasalata: whipped, cured roe and Haydari: yogurt, feta, diced apples, walnuts and celery. Featured Salads include Kaslik Salatasi: diced tomatoes, onions, parsley, cucumber, feta cheese, cizik olives, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and Turkish crushed red peppers and a Beet Salad with potatoes, garlic, micro greens, oranges and red beets. Chef Jarrouj’s menu also features a variety of Cold Mezes such as Wild Catch Boiled Octopus with olive oil, lemon juice, green olives, red onions and Midye Dolma: rice stuffed mussels, as well as Hot Vegetables such as Osmanli Pilavi: ottoman rice, dates, saffron and fried shallots and Chef’s Borek: crispy phyllo rolls, filled with goat cheese, savory herb and crushed red pepper with tomato marmalade.
Guests can enjoy items from the Meat and Poultry section of the menu such as Yaprak Dolma: beef stuffed grape leaves on top of a lamb chop; Manti: Turkish mini beef stuffed ravioli with garlic yogurt, and red pepper sauce, or Bonfile Sarma: filet mignon with Kasar cheese, sour cherry sauce and glazed shallots. Furthermore, twenty percent of the dishes come from the Aegean Sea as five different varieties of fish will be flown to the restaurant weekly. Seafood highlights Cimcime pan fried shrimp with Turkish crushed red peppers and slices garlic. Small plates range from $5 to $13 each.