Friday, November 28, 2014

Chef Jose Andres' Zaytinya (Washington, DC)

When I go to DC, naturally I have to try one of Jose Andres' restaurants that I have not been to yet. Having tried Bazaar in LA and Jaleo, I went with Zaytinya, his Mediterranean restaurant.

The restaurant was bright and lively, and the overall menu was surprisingly pretty reasonable (compared to The Bazaar, for example). The menu was pretty large, and there were so many things I wanted to try, but alas, my cousin and I could only eat so much. We'll just have to go back.

The restaurant sent out a couple of spreads with their fluffy, airy pita bread that's served warm. We got the Htipiti (marinated roasted red peppers, feta, thyme, $7.50) and Hommus ma lahm (hommus, spiced ground Jamison lamb, pine nuts, pickled wild cucumber, mint, $9)
You know how sometimes the simplest things turn out to be the best? Same with these. I was glad they sent these out since I may not have ordered them otherwise, but my cousin and I loved both spreads. My cousin was particularly addicted to the htipiti. It was so flavorful, yet luscious thanks to the feta, and the fluffy, delicate pita was so good.

Our next course is something I must order every time I see it on the menu:
Seared halloumi cheese, dates, pomegranate, orange, mint ($9.50)
I love halloumi cheese and I liked this rendition combined with the thick, sweet dates.
True to the region Chef Andres is paying homage to, there are a nice list of Greek and Turkish wines (even a rose from Lebanon) as well as Lebanese arak and ouzo - complete with a glossary at the end so you  can learn more about wines from these regions.

In addition to the already-large food menu, they have about half a dozen special items as well. We ordered two of those starting with the Truffle Pide (flatbread with local truffle, 63' egg, kasar cheese, $10)
Of course, these local truffles don't really compare to Perigord, but the flatbread and his 63-degree egg were excellent as always.

Another special: Lamb kleftico (spit-roasted Jamison farm lamb, house-made phyllo, feta, dill yoguft, $12)
The dough was quite fat with tender lamb, boldly flavored with spices.

The dessert menu also had a lot of things I wanted to try, but this time I settled for the Turkish Delight (walnut ice cream, yogurt mousse, honey gelee, orange caramel sauce, caramelized pine nuts)

It's a nice, light end to the meal. I also like that you can order two different sizes for desserts, a mezze style for $4 or a full portion for $8. You know, so you can go lighter on the dessert. Or just order more than one. Probably the latter.

To finish, of course, a traditional Turkish coffee, which you can order unsweetened, semi-sweet, or sweet.

Zaytinya is a very different restaurant than Bazaar, where the focus is more on traditional Mediterranean dishes with some innovative touches, but Chef Jose Andres has certainly done an excellent job at both. It's a more casual and approachable restaurant that you can take your less adventurous eating friends and family and still have a really great meal (and when they're ready for the next step, you can take them to cocktails at Barmini). I can't wait to work my way through the rest of the menu on my next trip.

701 9th St NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 638-0800
Zaytinya on Urbanspoon


Wandering Chopsticks

Ooh, the pita breads look so puffy! I like Jaleo a lot, but I really want to try Zaytinya now. Too bad DC is so far away.

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