Located in the heart of Georgetown, just a few steps from Baked and Wired, Moby Dick is a no-frills diner with a Mediterranean and Persian feel. It evokes the idea of simple, tasty food in a casual and relaxed environment. The atmosphere hints at quick but good quality food, with minimal decor of simple wooden tables, plastic cutlery, few decorations and a fast-food feel. Moby Dick is almost like a food stall on the sidewalk turned into a restaurant. However, while it seems like the kind of place you would come to for the quality of the food alone, it doesn’t quite live up to its ideal.
Although you would think this type of fast food would be a perfect fit for a couple of Georgetown students after a busy day of classes, this branding doesn’t match what Moby Dick claims to be. The restaurant presents itself as a provider of authentic Mediterranean food with slow-braised stews, house-made signature sauces and clay oven baked pita, all prepared in traditional Persian cooking styles. In reality, the food is as filling as a Wisemiller’s sandwich: it might suppress your hunger, but you won’t exactly feel like you’ve had a cultural dining experience afterward.
While two of my friends enjoyed the vegetarian options, my third friend and I ordered some of the Moby Dick classics. I tried the Kabob-e Kubideh ($10.25): ground sirloin with grated onion, house seasoning, grilled tomatoes and plenty of rice. My friend ordered the Moby’s Joojeh ($10.80): chunks of grilled chicken breast marinated in the house seasoning and again served with rice and tomatoes. Both were rather underwhelming, and there was too much rice, which was served with a chunk of butter, making it a little sickening. For a restaurant that claims to have a Mediterranean flair, the meat was not as flavorful or as spicy as one might expect. We also agreed that the servings were too big, as most of us took our leftovers home.
Still, there were a variety of options; you can get every entree as a sandwich or with salad, and there are different stews served for lunch that change daily. My vegetarian friends found a variety of salads and platters to choose from, and there was a mixture of authentic Mediterranean appetizers, such as Must-o Mososeer yoghurt ($4.85) and Dolmeh ($4.85), stuffed grape leaves. Regardless of our opinions of our respective entrees, we all enjoyed the complimentary pita bread and yoghurt cucumber sauce before our meals came.
Moby Dick is certainly a crowd-pleaser and welcomes a diverse gathering of diners. It also serves family platters for up to seven people, giving the restaurant appeal for large groups. I think Moby Dick’s popularity boils down to the simplicity of its food and its speed: our meals were all ready for us to collect in less than ten minutes. It is also incredibly affordable. Most of the meals came to around $10 and the sandwiches, which are served with rice and a salad, are priced at around $6.
Moby Dick also excels in Mediterranean classics; it offers baklava ($4.35) for dessert, falafel ($7.05) for vegetarians and several different kabobs for meat lovers. There is also a kind of Americanization of some traditional dishes, like the Veggie Delight ($7.05) and the Moby’s Melt ($7.05), both of which are sandwiches served with American cheese and mushrooms, but wrapped in pita to create an odd mesh of culinary styles.
Moby Dick is not exactly authentic Mediterranean food in a simple diner setting, as it claims to be. What Moby Dick does provide, though, is quick, filling and popular food for a wide audience, which is ideal for Georgetown students. Although a little too far down M Street to be the new Wisemiller’s, and not as exceptional as it pretends to be, Moby Dick remains a Georgetown fast food staple.