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Around the BLOCK

Zaytinya in Washington, DC

Written By: Mary Bloch - Aug• 05•13

Jose Andres has done it again. The celebrity chef based in Washington DC owns several restaurants around the District, and I’ve now eaten at all of them with the exception of Minibar (though my son and his girlfriend went and took lots of pictures so I have experienced it vicariously).  I had heard fabulous comments about Zaytinya for years but was reluctant to go because the featured cuisines of Turkey, Greece and Lebanon are not typically my favorite. But this is not about hummus and dolmades, though those particular dishes are on the menu. If you venture out of your comfort zone, you will be richly rewarded with fun and exhilarating fare.P1010148Zaytinya in Washington, DC

Here’s the list of what we shared at our table with a description from the menu. I’ve made a few notes of explanation where needed. The pictures say it all.

CRISPY BRUSSELS AFELIABrussels Sprouts with Greek yogurt--Zaytinya
brussels sprouts, coriander seed,
barberries, garlic yogurt

HORTA SALATAKale salad --Zaytinya
kale salad, smoked olives, fava Santorini,
ladolemono, pistachios

medjool dates, orange, pomegranate,
pistachios, mintHalloumi cheese--Zaytinya

Halloumi is a cheese that can withstand heat without melting. It gets a bit too chewy when it cools, but right off the stove it’s soft and pairs well with a variety of sauces and fruits.

sautéed shrimp with tomatoes, green onions,
kefalograviera cheese, ouzo

grilled Mediterranean octopus, marinated onions,
capers, yellow split pea pureeOctopus Santorini--Zaytinya

Samke Harra-style with coriander, cardamom,
pickled Lebanese chili oil, pine nuts and tahiniSalmon with Lebanese chili oil--Zaytinya

grilled chicken thigh, sumac, onions, garlic tuom,
grilled tomatoesChicken thigh with sumac, tomatoes, and tuom--Zaytinya

Garlic tuom is a Lebanese dipping sauce made along the lines of a pesto in that a mortar and pestle is needed to crush the ingredients into a paste. This particular condiment contains garlic, salt, olive oil and lemon juice.

There are a number of beef and lamb options on the menu. Knowing we had another meal to eat later in the day we opted for the lighter dishes. Though the small plates are meant for sharing, we still ordered too much food for three people to consume for brunch. The salmon was the only dish I didn’t care to fight over. There was nothing objectionable about it; compared to the other dishes, it was ordinary.

Not to be forgotten is the puffy warm pita that comes to the table with olive oil for dipping. It’s light and airy and makes a great pusher for each dish. We asked the server how it was made and he said it requires a very expensive machine, so I dismissed thoughts of trying to duplicate it at home.

Pita at Zaytinya

I try to check out a new restaurant, or one I haven’t visited, each time I make a trip to DC, but Zaytinya will definitely be on my repeat list.




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One Comment

  1. […] (Mexican) and Jaleo (Spanish) and was so impressed with the quality of the experience, and then Zaytinya (Mediterranean), where I was blown away by the creativity and execution. Andrés continues to up his […]

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