We had dinner over the weekend at Bacchus in D.C. We have been eating there two or three times a year for well over 20 years. My "handle" notwithstanding, I have no commercial connection with the restaurant.
We have generally preferred Bacchus to Lebanese Taverna and to Layalina in Arlington. However, when we were there a few months ago, we thought the kitchen had slipped a bit. Since the owner has been involved with opening another restaurant in Baltimore, we figured it was due to his inattention to the original location.
I'm happy to report that at least the evening we were there, the kitchen is back in stride. Most often, we share about five mezze and don't get any entrees, but this time I was craving either the fatte bel djaj or the fatte bel lam. We got the lamb to share. The yoghurt sauce was rich and creamy and not overcooked, the fried middle eastern bread on the bottom was (and stayed)crispy, and the lamb was tender and flavorful. The toasted pinenuts added a nice flavor and crunch.
We started with three mezze: the calimari in lemon, the brides of Lebanon, which is a loaf of bread stuffed with spiced ground meat and onion, and one of the eggplant salads (forget the name). The eggplant was creamy and not stringy. It had that almost caramelized taste, which was balanced by the tartness of the lemon, onion, and other ingredients. I have a fondness for the calimari, and it was as good as usual, with the small pinkish squid nice and tender. It had spent enough time in the lemon to absorb the flavor. The brides of Lebanon was for my husband, who will eat anything that involves ground meat. It, too, was good.
We finished with a rice pudding scented with rosewater. I liked it better than did my husband, but I happen to be a rosewater fanatic and make lemondade and iced tea with rosewater, so I may not be a good judge. Anyway, the rice was cooked through and a bit to the tooth. Sort of risotto-like. I hate it when it is mushy.
We're glad that an old favorite is still up to par.