Zaytinya – Washington, DC


Zaytinya
#701 9th Street NW
Washington, DC
(202) 638-0800

Hi readers!

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.

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Vin Room – Calgary, AB


Vin Room
2310 4 St SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 457-5522

This is going back a short little while but I was in southern Alberta just as the Royals were visiting and the city was gearing up for the Stampede.  Hectic times to be sure and the weather was cooperating (although I’ve heard its become cooler since I was in town).  It made for a few social outings, including this visit to a seemingly popular wine spot/lounge/restaurant on busy 4th street called the Vin Room.  As it was already around 7pm by the time we arrived, and the 2nd floor patio was full of people aside from a row at the narrow counter directly facing the street until a booth opened up, that’s where our night began.  Here’s my view.

In hand was a glass of the 2009 Schug Sauvignon Blanc (Sonoma, United States).  Whenever I drink wine or beer, I like to start things off light and this variety hit the spot with its bright and lively flavours.  I’m no oenophile  but I’m sure others would enjoy this refreshing wine as well.   The wines-by-the-glass service they had here must have included at least over sixty types, broken up in their listings by various taste profiles, perfect for easy selection.  The food menu was noted as being complementary of the wines as well, although by the time we had a few rounds, our minds began wandering elsewhere on this street to get our eat on, and we ended up not ordering a single food dish.

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Cru Restaurant – Vancouver, BC


Cru Restaurant
1459 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC
(604) 677-4111

With my usual favorite special occasion Vancouver restaurant no longer around (Parkside), I opted to book a table at Cru after considering a few other options.  With its deep list of accolades and press clippings, Cru has established itself as one of the city’s most popular destinations for Pacific Northwest and small plate cuisine.  And the prominent wine bar makes for an interesting arrangement and use of the long narrow dining space.

Given its reputation and relative close access to shopping areas (Granville Street) and performance venues (the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage as an example), reservations are an almost must at Cru, even on weeknights.  On this night, the place was full, with younger couples on dates, multi-generational family members out for a meal, and businessmen winding down after a long day at the office.  To keep things easy and balanced between the two of us, we chose the Prix Fixe Menu ($42 pp), paired with some wines by the glass.

Unfortunately, the setting wasn’t feeling good for whipping out the pocket camera given the very close seating arrangements with the tables on both sides.  Besides, this meal was less about a post for Foodosophy and more to enjoy the company and evening, so please forgive the missing first course photographs.  Just as a footnote, the appetizers eaten were the Soup of the Day which was a mild tasting cucumber-based creation which was very smooth; and the Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio with caperberries, truffle aioli and shaved parmesan, which was pleasantly larger than I thought it would be and full of interesting flavors and textures.

A little later into our meal and the larger group to one side departed and by then I thought it would be okay to snap some images…

As one of the mains, the Smoked Pork Tenderloin with braised pork shoulder, baby squash and gnocchi was the heartiest of our shared dishes.  The meat was well cooked and tender, with a good crust built up on the outside.  The accompanying mix of veggies added to the “summery” feel of the dish, especially the grilled baby squash.

The Pan-seared Halibut coupled with morel mushrooms and roasted fingerling potatoes, drizzled with orange hazelnut brown butter, was again well cooked and had a firm crust on one side.  Perhaps a touch on the salty side in seasoning though for some people.  I enjoyed this dish perhaps more so than the pork, maybe for the fact that I usually don’t enjoy cooked halibut but they do it very well at Cru.

To close, the pair of desserts included the Classic Creme Brulee and…

… a trio selection of hand-turned Sorbets.  I believe it was raspberry, lemon and lime(?).  Both met the seal of approval from my dining companion who is more of a dessert fan than I will ever be.

After our dining experience, we quickly decided we’d add Cru to our list of staple restaurants.  Perhaps not one to visit very frequently, but for a night when a relaxed, cozy, delicious dinner is required, this place certainly fits the bill.

Cru on Urbanspoon