Hello from the District!!
I’ve recently relocated to Washington, DC so now we have a new blog feature: foodie posts on DC!!
I’ve been running around like a headless chicken for the last month, planning and actually making this move. Even though my apartment still looks like a bomb blew off in there, I made time for brunch. Brunch is life, mkay?
For my first time eating out in DC, I chose Zaytinia, a Middle Eastern, Greek, Lebanese fusion restaurant, because I was craving Lebanese food. And they have brunch! I fell in love before I even stepped foot into the door.
Also, Zaytinya is one of José Andrés’s restaurants. He is an award-winning chef that previously studied with Ferran Adrià of El Bulli in Spain. José André has restaurants in DC, Las Vegas, New York and many other places. I have been to his Spanish tapas place, Jaleo, in Las Vegas and loved it. So I was extra excited to go to Zaytinya.
Zaytinya is close to the Smithsonian American Art Museum-National Portrait Gallery, and the restaurant decor has a simple, navy-and-white nautical theme. Combined with the high vaulted ceiling, the bright sunlight streaming through the floor to ceiling windows…it is a beautiful place.
Okay, normally I will take individual close-up shots of the dishes. But I was a little too excited and a little too hungry. So you’re just going to have to be satisfied with this group shot.
The Goat’s Cheese Loukamades(top right): It’s fried Greek donuts with goat cheese, honey, tangier spice and little bites of nectarine that tasted even better with the tiny sliver of mint underneath. The Greek donuts were denser then the American/Canadian donuts, a little drier but also less sweet. They were delicious with smears of goat cheese and honey.
The Cilbir: this is poached eggs with brioche toast squares and Greek yogurt with paprika butter and sumac. I first learned about Cilbir when I read Ottolenghi’s cookbooks(so beautiful and delicious!). Ever since, I have been wanting to try it. Zaytinya’s cilbir was amazing. I was a little skeptical about the combination of Greek yogurt and poached eggs, but honestly, I cannot wait to recreate this at home. The Greek yogurt was slightly warm and with all the spices it was mixed with, there was only a slight tangy taste of the yogurt. It was basically like eating a thick savory cream on top of softly poached eggs that were perfectly runny. This dish was simple but money.
The Hünkãr Beğendi, or Turkish-braised lamb shank, with eggplant-kefalograviera puree…or Heaven in a small copper plate. The waiter told me that the lamb shank was braised for a whole day, and I could taste the amount of time and effort put into this dish. The lamb shank was tear-it-with-your-spoon tender, meaty and flavorful. The eggplant puree was light, creamy and soaked up all the delicious meat sauce. I could’ve just ate a bowl of the eggplant puree alone. Also, if anyone knows how to pronounce the name of the dish or what it means, please share!
I told myself to behave, but then the waiter asked if I wanted to see the dessert menu…
Greek Yogurt with Muscat-soaked apricots, vanilla yogurt cream, apricot sorbet and pistachio powder. This was like the decadent version of yogurt and fruits. The triple apricots were lightly sweet, and I enjoyed tasting the different textures of the apricot made as a sorbet, gel and poached. Though they said they used vanilla yogurt cream, I am really curious to know what exactly is in the cream, because this yogurt was incredibly indulgent. If yogurt is always this rich and delicious, I will probably eat it all the time.
Turkish Delight with walnut ice cream, yogurt mousse, honey gelée, orange-caramel sauce and caramelized pine nuts. I actually preferred the Greek Yogurt and Apricot more. While the walnut ice cream was delicious, this was sort of like a sundae. Note that this was actually a half-order, or “mezze-style.” I love how thoughtful Zaytinya is, offering to make desserts in half-sizes. The perfect excuse to eat more dessert.
Lastly, Zaytinya has Turkish coffee. They offer it unsweetened, semi-sweet or sweet. I had it unsweetened, and despite its small stature, the coffee was very powerful. It was like espresso on steroids. The last time I had Turkish coffee was with Nafiza at Jamjar on Commercial. However, in comparing the Turkish coffee at Zaytinya and Jamjar, I liked the one at Zaytinya more. This is not meant to criticize Jamjar, because their food is fabulous, but their Turkish coffee is erm…bland.
I will most definitely go back to Zaytinya. I’ve got three pages worth of mezzes to pick through!