Friday, January 14, 2011

Merzi Beaucoup

Washington's latest fast-food restaurant is actually cheap, healthy and Indian. Three things that I wouldn’t necessarily put together – that is, until I tried Merzi, a new restaurant in Penn Quarter. Merzi (which means choice) offers new interpretations of classic Indian flavors in a Chipotle-esque environment.

Once you get to the front of the line you are instructed to do the following:

1. Pick one of the following for the base for your meal: naan, rice, salad or chaat.
2. Pick one: Black-eyed peas, garbanzo beans, or onion-pepper mix.
3. Choose your meat (or not!).
4. Pick your fresh vegetables
5. Select a sauce or chutney

This build-your-own-lunch assembly line makes Merzi perfect for a quick lunch or a dinner on-the-go. The night that I went there I got a rice bowl with black-eyed peas, onions and peppers, lamb, corn, a yogurt sauce and the mild buttery sauce. The portion sizes were incredibly generous and the food was clearly fresh. I’m generally not a huge fan of Indian cuisine, but I devoured my rice bowl, savoring all the different flavors and textures that came together so beautifully.

My friend Abby joined me for dinner that evening and also liked her dish. She is trying out the whole vegetarian lifestyle and she was able easily create a balanced meal out of the different offerings. I think if she had a regret it was getting the medium sauce in her rice bowl. Abby had to go back up for some of extra yogurt sauce to cool down her palette. Oops.

We also considered trying the samosas since they looked incredibly good (and extra crispy!). The person behind the counter honestly told us that he (and the rest of the staff) weren’t in love with them. To me this is the mark of good service. Not only did we receive an honest answer, we also were informed of what he thought was worth trying on the menu.

All in all I think Merzi is a great (and much needed) addition to Penn Quarter/Chinatown. If I worked in the area I would be here all the time for lunch. But, since I’m not I will have to put it in my rotation of restaurants that are great for a quick dinner on the go.

1 comment:

  1. I'm gonna try to get up there and check them out this week :-) xoxo