#701 9th Street NW
As I am sure many of you are aware, the northeastern States have endured quite a few battles with Mother Nature this summer – including some blistering hot heat waves, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake, and Hurricane Irene. Fortunate for me, I was only around for one of those events and managed to get safely in and out of the nation’s capital, and enjoyed some good eating along the way. While this will be a pictureless-post due to my not wanting to whip out my cell phone during this particular meal, I still wanted to put some thoughts down and share my experience at Zaytinya, which offers Turkish, Greek and Lebanese cuisine.
Mediterranean cooking is not something I indulge in a great deal but when I do, I am always pleasantly surprised by the boldness of flavors that can be captured by a talented kitchen. In the case of Zaytinya, their celebrated chef is José Andrés, recently named this past spring as an “Outstanding Chef” by the James Beard Foundation at their annual awards gala in New York City. The restaurant is clearly on the popular destination list by locals and visitors alike. Without a proper reservation, we had to wait a little while at the bar (where you can still get food), before a table opened up for us later in the night.
With a spacious interior, clean lines with traditional color schemes and materials you envision from a eatery catering food from this region of the world, I did see the inside while the sun was still out as well as when it became much darker inside. The transition and different vibes it gave off as a result in both scenarios was pleasing, and I could see how they make the smooth transition from their daytime to nighttime shifts and menus. Service was cordial, not overly intrusive but at the same time not difficult to receive when the need arose for a drink refreshment or additional food order.
With smaller sized servings and plates, Zaytinya is a wonderful place for sharing. If variety is your thing, then this is the place for you, as you can easily share a plethora of different dishes and tastes if you are in a group, making a long extended seating a relaxing and fulfilling experience. Coupled with a few rounds of drinks, it truly was a wonderful time.
From their hommus spreads, refreshing cucumber soup, and vegetable/seafood/meat mezzes, a mixture of textures, temperatures and of course flavors abound and our meal was fantastic. Definite picks that drew rave reviews from our table were the crispy bruseel afelia (sprouts coated in a savory coriander/garlic mix w/ yogurt), the karpuzi me feta (refreshing watermelon mixed with fresh mint, feta cheese and olives), and from the seafood section, the grilled octopus santorini (that came with a delicious yellow split pea puree).