Tel Veh: Wine, Turkish Coffee and Mediterranean Hospitality

by June 27, 2012 at 10:00 am 1,561 0

"Tel Veh"

With breakfast, Turkish food, a coffee and wine bar, Tel Veh is from the Agora owners. (Jane Alonso)

Borderstan welcomes new contributor Jane Alsonso. She will be writing about food and drink as Alonso’s passion for food and spirits leads her on frequent excursions into Borderstan’s land of bars and restaurants. Email her at jane[AT]

For months now, I’ve been watching construction crews prepare for a new business in the street level space of my apartment complex at 401 Massachusetts Avenue NW. With the opening of Tel Veh on May 24, the mystery of what will greet me at my doorstep every day has been unveiled.

Tel Veh was exactly what I was hoping for — a relaxed wine and coffee bar where I can kick back at the end of a long day at work or meet a friend for a casual breakfast. The key word is “relaxed.” Unlike many DC restaurants with an attitude (and a dress code), Tel Veh seems to aim to please the locals who live and play in the neighborhood.

 In case you are wondering, “Tel Veh” is a Turkish term for the residue left at the bottom of a coffee cup.

Tel Veh has been brought to life by the same team — owner Latif Guler and chef Chassan Jarrouji — as the popular Agora on 17th Street. (See Sarah Lipman’s Sunday in the Mediterranean at Agora.)

Despite living in Turkey for a brief period many years ago, this phrase was new to me… but then again, I am not a coffee drinker.

This is a shame, because Tel Veh offers many types, including (not surprising) Turkish coffee along with cappuccinos and lattes. The restaurant opens at 7 am for breakfast, offering croissants, bagels and muffins along with a quality cup of joe.

What I do like to drink is wine… and Tel Veh has a vast selection to choose from, with over 300 bottles and 48 by-the-glass choices. The quantity is all the more impressive given the restaurant’s small size (only about a dozen tables). If you are not sure what to choose, request the help of the restaurant’s sommelier, who steered me to an excellent bottle of pinot noir during a recent visit.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the homemade cocktails — while waiting for a friend at the bar, I ordered a Moscow Mule (Grey Goose Citron, lime and ginger beer) served to me by a friendly bartender who turned out to be (ironically) Russian. It was beautifully balanced and presented.

By comparison to the drink list, the dinner food menu is a bit limited, but the selection is likely to expand as the restaurant grows its customer base in the coming months. The flat bread pizzas and charcuterie platter are solid choices to help soak up all that wine and vodka.

Perhaps the biggest selling point for Tel Veh is its gorgeous presentation — the floor-to-ceiling windows and elegant woodwork evoking nautical themes (note the ropes!) create a space that makes you want to linger. I’m looking forward to getting to know Tel Veh in the coming months.

Tel Veh: The Details

  • Where Am I Going: 401 Massachusetts Avenue NW (corner of 4th and Massachusetts),
  • When Am I Going: Monday through Sunday, 7 am to 2 am. Breakfast offered from 7 am to 11 am. Lunch 11 am to 3 pm. Dinner served from 5:30 pm to midnight; bar remains open until 2 am. Happy Hour drink specials offered Monday through Saturday, 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm.
  • Paycheck Pain: Breakfast items cost under $6. Sandwiches priced at about $11. Dinner small plates priced $15 and under.
  • Say What?: It can be quite loud during the evenings, especially if a large group is in the small space. But it is generally quiet during the day or later in the evening after the drinking crowd leaves.
  • What You’ll Be Eating/Drinking: Wine, cocktails, coffee, sandwiches and Mediterranean-inspired small plates and tapas.

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