Classy Happy Hour
Chinatown’s latest and greatest, Tel’Veh, offers a sophisticated and affordable experience that can make even the lowest budget feel highbrow.
With dock ropes and wine racks lining the upper balcony, Tel’Veh’s candlelit interior takes on the appearance of a very cozy and tastefully decorated submarine. The sixty seat dining area faces a stories high, aquarium glass wall affording patrons an easy view of the Mass Ave nightlife floating by.
Tel’Veh’s attention to detail doesn’t end with design-did I mention every table has a padded underside for added acoustic privacy?-and continues right through a crafted menu of delectable small dishes supported by a companionable wine selection.
Alan Lamb, Tel’Veh’s wine director, was kind enough to act as personal server and sommelier throughout DC on Heel’s evening. As head of Tel’Veh’s wine program and an aspiring vintner, the man knows a good vino when he tastes one. Alan strives to share his gourmet expertise with young urbanites through a well-priced menu that expands the palate without stretching the wallet.
Small Dishes, Big Taste
To start off, Alan brought out a platter of oysters representing a wide cross-section of our coastal regions. Oysters from Rhode Island, Washington and Oregon rested on a layer of crushed ice ready to be scooped up and slurped down. The roe topped oysters, paired with a salty white, hit the mouth like an ocean wave, but much more pleasing and flavorful than the usual experience.
Best news is these oysters are available every happy hour for $1 apiece!
The food and drink continued with a plate of dates filled with melted goat cheese, wrapped in pastourma and splashed with honey. As a sommelier, Alan uses the word “exquisite” sparingly, but indulged the adjective with the cleanly spiced accompanying red, Palaverga Piccolo. His first sip four years ago amounted to a religious experience, and he has since dedicated his life to the wine gods.
I could gush for days about the remaining dishes, but I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves and leave something for the tastebuds’ imagination:
(Left) Crowded mussel bunch topped with feta cheese, floating in tomato sauce.
(Right) Yes, that is a real, mouthwatering octopus tentacle, complete with suction cups. So 20,000 Leagues, so good! Captain Nemo recommends the Sauvignon-Blanc-Sémillon white.
Herb crusted rack of lamb with baby arugula, roasted red peppers and shaved onion. Tender, colorful, delicious.
I’ve never had goat cheese for dessert, but after this rich, honey-glazed finisher, I don’t know how chocolate is still in business. (Note: Looks even more appetizing when not half-eaten.)
If I’ve done Tel’Veh any justice, you are not even reading this and are already there with wine glass raised and oysters soon to follow. If not, reevaluate your priorities and get yourself to Tel’Veh!
401 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20001
By: Richard Barry, Food Editor