Lots of Wine (and a Little Food) at Tel'Veh
Most Washingtonians are already familiar with Agora, the neighborhood Mediterranean restaurant that draws crowds on the 17th Street restaurant strip. Lesser known is Tel’Veh, a wine bar/restaurant (emphasis on wine bar) from the same team, which quietly opened its doors on Massachusetts Ave at the end of May. We recently had the opportunity to sample the Tel’Veh goods on the house and got the scoop from wine director Thierry Lesparre.
“At Tel’Veh, we decided to promote wines first, [seconded by] food to complement the wine selection,” says Lesparre, of how Tel’Veh differentiates itself from other wine bars in D.C. “The menu remains slim,” he adds, “pairing foods is not yet the focus.”
He points to the extensive selection — 300 wines available by the bottle, 48 by the glass — and the diverse regions represented as evidence of how Tel’Veh operates as “a real wine bar like in Europe.” While there are a handful of varietals from the Mediterranean, much of the globe is represented here, in part due to Lesparre’s desire to “educate young people about wines from around the world.”
Lesparre suggests a New Zealand Pinot Noir or a pick from the South African selection for those wanting to try something a bit more unusual. Patrons in search of the best value are advised to try a Germany Dry Riesling or a Gruner-Veltliner from Austria. Can’t decide on a bottle? Wine-by-the-glass types will appreciate the bar’s use of Vinotemp wine dispensers that ensure pours always taste fresh and are at the ideal temperature.
The main drawback here is location: Tel’Veh is curiously located, tucked on the street level of an apartment building just a few blocks from Metro but in an area that doesn’t draw much pedestrian traffic. Look for the sidewalk chalkboards to point you in the right direction and consider this neighborhood spot as an alternative to the packed tourist traps that otherwise dominate Chinatown.
Top photo by Dan Swartz; bottom photo by Lauren Sloat