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Zaytinya


Steve Klc
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Any tips for the first timer?

K

Start with the hummus & finish with the Turkish Coffee Chocolate Cake :wub:

In between order whatever looks good! Don't order everything you want at once. Pace yourself.

Try the exotic cocktails.

Have fun!

"What, after all, is more seductive than the prospect of sinning in libraries?"

Michael Dirda, An Open Book

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  • 2 months later...

We had desserts at Zaytinya after a great lunch of tapas at Jaleo last Wednesday. Along with lightly sweetened Turkish Coffees we had the Yoghurt Cream with Apricot Two Ways (absolutely amazing - this was one of the most satisfying desserts I have ever had. It was as well balanced as the best dessert wines), Apples and Saffron, Turkish Delight, Namoura and Bademli Corba - an almond milk based dessert.

Unfortunately, we did not have time this trip to have a full meal here. If the desserts are any indication, this restaurant is a must visit for us next time we go to DC.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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John--small world, you, Jose and I were in Zaytinya at the same time on Wednesday. I was in and out, picking up a tool I needed, I didn't know Jose was going to be there, and I didn't know you were there.

So I say hi to Jose, he's just back from doing his television show in Spain, I'm driving away, on my way to Oyamel to begin prep for this big charity fundraiser we're doing tonight:

http://sweetcharity.org/

and I get this call on my cell. I see it is Jose but I can't answer it because I didn't have my headset (DC now has a handsfree cellphone law.) Turns out he's telling me to come back to meet you. I'm really glad to read you enjoyed yourself, especially since I had no clue. Reports like yours, though, are the best to receive because it indicates that day-to-day things are going well. That Greek yogurt-apricot dessert hasn't changed since day one, it's too popular to pull off. Excellent yogurt, an excellent Greek muscat dessert wine, and a couple of different apricots--fresh, dried, frozen. As a pastry chef I just stayed out of the way. Thanks for the kind words. It's hard to pick amongst your own children, but the new "Apples & Saffron" is my current favorite there, I picked that dessert to present to the RAMMY awards judges this year. Zaytinya is up for a few awards, for informal dining restaurant of the year and for best desserts.

Maybe we'll meet the next time you are in town!

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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  • 7 months later...

Had a break in a convention schedule from hell and, since I I'm at the Grand Hyatt, stopped by Zaytinya for dinner at the bar.

What a great meal, from menu design to kitchen execution. I had two standards to test the basics, and they were excellent: perfect tzatziki and kibbeh that was the best I've ever had. I also had the grilled lamb with hummous Bil Toum, which was outstanding, and some clams with fides, fine noodles that did a good job of soaking up the great sauce.

My only complaints were that my Foggy Ale was pretty bland (no fault of Zaytinya's), and that I didn't leave room for any of Steve's desserts. I'm hoping to get over there some time before I leave, though.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I'm hoping to get over there some time before I leave, though.

Chris, you MUST get back there! I'm heading to DC in January for a conference and can't wait to hit Zaytinya again--esp for those desserts! And I'm not a sugar freak. Trust me, you're really missing out if you don't go back for one. Many. Them. :laugh:

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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  • 4 weeks later...

Finally got back to Zaytinya, as I was in DC for a few days for a conference. (Separate note: why do I always seem to be here right before Restaurant Week?!? :wacko:)

Started out with the over-the-top-lemony lemon martini (loved it). Then, as in past visits, I found it impossible to stay away from the lamb; this time, we had the lamb 'lollipops,' which were SO tender and so perfectly rare that I considered ordering another plate of them so I could have a second one. Why must we share at Zaytinya?!? :laugh: The lamb shank is another favorite of mine, and it didn't disappoint. We also had the kalamari with spinach and lemon (divine) and the carrot-apricot fritters, which we weren't nuts about.

For dessert, I ordered the Namoura, a "warm semolina cake, Muscat cream, orange segments, apricot-yogurt sorbet, carmelized almonds." Steve, that is one stunning dessert!!! After my first bite of the sorbet, I declared that it was "Sunshine on a spoon!" My dining friend had to agree, once he stopped making fun of me and had a taste. The cake---YUM. And with a glass of muscat, it was a perfect ending to the meal.

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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the carrot-apricot fritters, which we weren't nuts about. 

This is the one dish I've had there that I found really, really bad in probably a dozen visits. Yet people rave about them as the answer to "What should I order at Zaytinya?"

Bill Russell

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  • 9 months later...

At the beginning of August (my last days of summer vacation before classes started up again), I spent a few days in DC and finally made it to Zaytinya. After having read so many good reviews of the place, I was looking forward to it quite a bit. Overall, though, I'd have to say that it was a fairly ho-hum dining experience.

Disclaimer of sorts: I only dined at Zaytinya one time, so it's certainly within the realm of possibility that the restaurant had a bad night; we all know that reviews based on one visit are both useful and limited.

First off, the setting and service: two thumbs up!

It's a beautiful space, both stylish and comfortable, and the place had a great ambiance and energy. The service was really great, perfectly balanced between attentive and reserved; our server was always there when we needed him and never intruded in any way when we didn't.

On to the meal itself: hit-and-miss.

I should start by saying that I am a huge fan of the small plate, mezze, tapa, or whatever you want to call them; furthermore, I understand that, in some ways, making a meal of a bunch of mezze is a true challenge to any restaurant's menu in the same way that a tasting menu is: instead of trying only a couple of courses, you end up with a large pile of plates sitting on your table before it's all said and done.

That said, I am happy to say that some of the mezze were fantastic: the bread, for example, is truly wonderful on its own, and it manages to take some dishes from the already good to the near sublime; that was definitely true of the mushroom mezze, which was an amazingly good dish on its own, but simply begged to be paired with some bread in order to achieve perfection. And it almost goes without saying that the Hommus, which was quite good, benefitted from such great bread.

Unfortunately, some other dishes seemed almost devoid of flavor: the skordalia seemed as if someone had forgotten the garlic, while the Mavrofassoula Me Loucaniko (grilled pork and orange rind sausage with bean stew) and the Lagos Krassatos Me Fakies (braised rabbit with lentils) both managed to be cooked to perfection and surprisingly lacking in flavor.

Throughout the meal, we enjoyed a nice selection of Greek wines by the glass, and our server was quite helpful in making wine suggestions (for which I was especially grateful, since I know nothing about Greek wine).

The meal ended on an upnote, with both the Turkish Delight (recommended by our server) and the Turkish Coffee Chocolate being as tasty as promised; if I ever end up back at Zaytinya, I'd happily go for the Turkish Delight again.

I don't live in DC, but I make a couple of trips up each year, staying a few days each time; I have an every-expanding list of restaurants that I try to hit each time, and unfortunately, Zaytinya won't be added to the list. Frankly, if I were in DC and in the mood for mezze, I'd likely go to the restaurant named Mezze in Adams Morgan, which is both less expensive and a little better (although certainly less stylish), in my experience.

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  • 2 years later...

In contrast to the esteemed Mr. Talbott, I've always found the place a bit overrated. Not bad, mind you, but not up to the accolades it generally receives.

On the other hand, if you're there with friend you can go through about half the menu, so you are bound to find something extra tasty -- and I've never actually had an unlikeable dish there.

If you get tired of the crowds, drop my digs for some cassoulet on the Day Of. And there's a couple of spots off the beaten track that should more comfortable than the downtown scene if you don't mind traveling a bit: Red Derby (dive); La Molienda (Salvadoran); Moroni Brothers (Salvadoran and wood fired pizza); Hitchin' Post (soul food). And, of course, don't forget the Ethiopians.

And you can borrow my cummerbund if you lose yours. :laugh:

Edited by Busboy (log)

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Thanks, John and Charles. I am accommodating others in the party (as well as severe reservation and transportation constraints), so Zaytinya and not much else it will be. Though that cassoulet sounds tempting.

We'll miss you.

I don't know where you're staying or how long, but taking the Green Line north to Columbia Heights/Petworth is both the road less traveled and one likely to drop you near a decent (and decently-priced) meal and/or beer.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Had a fantastic time at a hopping Zaytinya last night. We arrived a bit early so we started with a pitcher of Pom-Fili, a wine, vodka, and pomegranate drink that was tasty enough. When we sat down we dove into the menu and ordered a ton of stuff: the Greek olives marinated in oregano and kalamata oil; tabouleh; felafel; the Cretan snails; the fried mussels; lamb tartare and behar; patates tiganites; and the shisk taouk, all washed down with arak. For dessert we had the Turkish delight and the ice cream trio with cherry, pistachio, and olive oil.

My favorites were the perfect tartare, that incredible olive oil ice cream, and the shisk taouk, which has something in it I can't identify that's really really good. The sauce for the snails was far too salty, and the Turkish delight was dull. But everything else was excellent.

The four of us ate and drank until we were stuffed and left paying less than $40 pp (not including tip). It's hard to imagine such outstanding cuisine in such an informal, fun environment, for that amount of money.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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  • 9 months later...

True, I'm sure he's a great cook, I'm just a bit put off by his on-screen demeanour. I'm aware that his TV persona might not quite match his personality, and that even if it does he might still be a great cook.

Haven't been to Zaytinya, but I had a fantastic meal at Oyamel last year, and I'll be going to The Bazaar in LA next month.

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  • 5 months later...

You know, as a dyed-in-the-wool, jaded and especially annoying New Yorker - born in Brooklyn, even - there isn't much that impresses me, especially when it comes to restaurants, chefs and food. I mean, we've got it all here, under one roof. Access to the best seafood and produce (try the green market some day if you think I'm kidding), a bajillion restaurants (lots of them good, some great), hot cocktail lounges, awesome kitchenware shops, etc. etc. But there's one thing we don't have, and DC does, which should make a lot of NYers jealous...and that's José Andrés. And as if that wasn't inglorious enough, even LA has him now, or at least has a restaurant of his...and it's a friggin' 4-star.

So, DC, thank your lucky stars...because you've got something that NY doesn't. But now, kinda living in both cities, we've got José too. And the other night, we got Zaytinya...and we got hooked.

First off, we walked out of the metro at the Chinatown station (the metro is basically DC's subway system - but way cuter and cleaner than NYC's could ever hope to be) and there it is. Easy as that. All you drunkards out there - no worries about driving, though if you're getting drunk late, remember the system shuts down around 1 AM. Even though our reservation had changed due to a late cancellation, we were seated immediately, at a great table with a view of the action on the streets as well as inside.

It was soon to be...first the puffy, hot flat bread, along with a cutesy dish of olive oil and pomegranate molasses. I prefer no cutesy, but wtf, it must impress some people, just not me - remember, jaded New Yorker, etc. etc.

Oh, the cocktails surrounding the olive oil weren't bad - SE had a Greek sidecar (Metaxa, cointreau and maraschino), and mine was something or other that I consumed in like 30 seconds; it was that tasty and I was thirsty, after all.

According to our charming waitress, SE and I should probably order between 4 and 6 dishes to be properly sated. HAH! She had no idea who she was dealing with, and as we quickly ordered 9 items, she nodded approvingly.

The first dish to arrive (everything we ordered was paced properly and in the right order; at no time was our table covered with more dishes than two humans could properly consume) was a revelation. Simply fresh roasted chickpeas. In their pods. Like edamame, but so much more, the pods are first roasted and then drenched in an olive oil/lemon juice and dill bath, which we couldn't get enough of. Messy - yes. Lots of bread dipping - yes. Bread runs out and is refilled - yes. What more can you ask for?

Alongside the chickpeas were served kolokithokeftedes, zucchini and cheese patties in a caper/yogurt sauce...an order of 4, brown and crispy outside, smooth and creamy in. The perfect combo, no?

As we moved on, it became apparent that these guys really know how to cook. Sure it helps if you love the cuisines of Greece and Turkey; lots of yogurt, dill, capers, feta, mint, garlic, etc. - and we do. Though smoked white asparagus with smoked yogurt sauce isn't your everyday Greek fare, and drew a comment from SE as to it's deliciousness...

It's obvious from above - a vegetarian can eat quite nicely at Zaytinya. Sadly, they'd be missing a lot. For instance, the Garides Me Anitho, shrimp sauteed with shallots, dill, lemon juice and mustard almost caused a fight to break out at our table; it was that good. They couldn't have the spiced quail couscous, with little chunks of quail and butternut squash strewn throughout. Nor the lamb ravioli, filled tonight with lamb's tongue and brain, served in a thick tomato sauce, and which might have been our favorite dish of the night.

Might have, had it not been for our final savory course, the spit-roasted lamb (we spotted the lamb roasting as soon as we walked to our seats), encased in a crispy package floating atop it's dill-feta-yogurt sauce without a care in the world...

As dinner came to a close, and we wrestled with the decision as to whether to have dessert or not (3 baskets of bread'll do that to you, but we did have some ice cream/gelato and a small portion of something chocolate-y), SE and I both agreed that we need to return to Zaytinya - soon.

Because - there was a lot we didn't get to try.

Because - the price is right...cocktails, a couple glasses of wine and a beer along with all that food was $125.

Because - there are great specials offered at happy hour.

Because - the service is warm, friendly and proper.

And because - there's nothing quite like this in NYC. Thanks for having Jose, DC.

My full blog post with pictures can be read by clicking here.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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