Ask Chef Ghassan Jarrouj about romance and you’ll get a shy smile and another glass of Pinot Noir from the Carneros winery in California. As the culinary wizard in the newly-opened Agora restaurant in Washington DC, the self-proclaimed romantic clearly gets a kick from couples in love.
If you think you’ve seen everything that needs seeing in the District, think again. Although the White House, Smithsonian and Washington Monument are worthwhile pit stops, the funky eateries win hearts every time.
Reminiscent of Paris thanks to city planner Pierre L’Enfant’s design, the DC neighborhood called Dupont Circle is home to art galleries, all-night bookstores, elegant embassy mansions and palate-pleasing restaurants that dish up tempting recipes for romance. Leading the pack, Agora, on 17th Street NW, excels with a Mediterranean-inspired menu that is made for sharing. “There’s passion in our food,” the chef says recommending the delectable beet salad, fresh sea bass grilled to perfection and a plate of superbly tender lamb chops, “a bite of this, a bite of that and a nibble here and there is what I recommend to happy and hungry couples.”
Saluting the mezze-style of eating, the small tapas-like dishes that salute the flavors of Turkey and Greece are perfection for epic dates or randy reunions. “Our plate of taramousalata is a winner,” the chef adds referring to the oh-so fluffy dip made from carp roe, lemon juice and fresh olive oil from the restaurant owners farm in Foca, Turkey, “caviar is an aphrodisiac in any culture and it always inspires love wherever in the world it is served.” Boasting an extensive wine list of five-hundred bottles, Agora also showcases an impressive selection of martinis and ouzo – the anise-flavored spirit popular in Greece. Appealing to eco-savvy twosomes, wines are stored in a temperature-controlled cellar with recycled wood racks. Stemware made from recycled cork and glass is as elegant as it is indestructible. Weekly wine classes kick off this month. For reservations, call (202) 332-6767 or visit www.agoradc.net.
When the sun sets, a leisurely stroll (or easy taxi ride) to nearby U. Street to check out the clubs and bars that sizzle till the wee hours will keep the mood red hot till morning . Musical legend Duke Ellington grew up here and Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Nat King Cole and Louis Armstrong wowed the crowds with their groundbreaking performances. Today, taking in a show at the Lincoln Theatre, enjoying a nightcap at Marvin’s owned by Marvin Gaye’s family, getting down to a jazz set at Utopia or meandering through the neighborhood flea market are good bets for bonding pour deux.
For tourism information, visit www.washington.org
For Lovebirds who Plan ahead
Foto Week – November 6-13 – This weeklong celebration of photography features competitions, gallery openings and book signings.
Washington Craft Show – November 19-21
At the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, two hundred of the nation’s premier artisans strut their stuff and sell their wares.
National Christmas Tree Lighting – December
The tree is lit in early December by the First Family as part of a nationally-televised celebration that features top-name entertainment. It’s re-lit until 11 pm each following night through January 1st with free nightly performances on the White House Ellipse.
Zoo Lights December 4-13
The National Zoo sparkles for the holidays with thousands of environmentally-friendly lights and animated larger-than-life exhibits.