29 September 2010

Dinner at Zaytinya, Washington, DC

In past posts, I’ve written that I’m a fan of chef Jose Andres. He has several restaurants in Washington, DC, so I decided that over the course of several months, I’d try to go to each one of them. (Click here for minibar; click here for Cafe Atlantico; click here for Jaleo.)
So in September, when I found myself with an evening and no business-related dinner plans, it was a perfect opportunity to try Zaytinya. One of my co-workers also was free that evening, so he joined me. That proved to be a good thing. Not only was it pleasant company. But Zaytinya features Mediterranean mezzas – small plates, quite similar to Spanish tapas. In my review of Jaleo, I lamented that since I was eating along, I didn’t get to try a good variety of the tapas. But by having a dinner companion at Zaytinya, we were able to sample a good selection of mezzas.

We started by splitting a salad – tabouleh. It’s made from parsley, bulgur wheat, tomatoes, onions, mint, and a citrusy dressing. I really like tabouleh, and it was good at Zaytinya. But it wasn’t the best I’ve ever had.

Next we ordered a couple of vegetable mezzas. One was roasted eggplant stuffed with onions and tomatoes. It was called “Ímam Bayıldı.” It was very good; quite unusual. The other was spanakopita. When we ordered it, I thought this was our ‘safe’ choice. I’ve had spanakopita many times and thought I knew what to expect. But to my surprise, at Zaytinya it’s served rolled in a cigar shape rather than flat layers of phyllo, spinach, and feta.
For our final round of items, we decided to have fish and seafood. The fish item was halibut coated with a ground nut, roasted and served on a roasted pepper and almond puree. It was very flavorful and unique. But the best dish of the evening was the shrimp - “Garides Saganaki.” The shrimp were sauteed with tomatoes and onions and were mixed with a Greek cheese and just a faint hint of ouzo in the sauce. Yum! It was great.

So overall, I liked the mezzas at Zaytinya better than the tapas at Jaleo. But I still think that Cafe Atlantico is the best of Chef Andres’ DC restaurants for dinner.

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