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.)
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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.
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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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