This post has been long overdue, but I finally put aside some time to compile this post. I was in Washington DC the couple weeks ago and had dinner at Zaytinya, this fancy looking restaurant serving a selection of delicious Turkish, Greek, and Lebanese cuisine. Zaytinya is located at 701 9th Street NW, in downtown Washington DC.
The restaurant had an ambient atmosphere. It was quite busy during that time. We stood around the bar as we waited for our table. It was about a 30-40 minute wait.
When we got to our table, the waiter kindly greeted us and was prepared to answer all our questions about the food selection. He explained that each dish is a mezze/small plate and recommended about 2-3 dishes a person. Since there were three of us, we decided to order an appetizer and six dishes to share. Their dishes were classified into vegetables, seafood, and meat. The prices generally ranged from $8-$11.
The baskets of fresh bread caught our attentions quick. The bread was light, fluffy and puffed up, and totally delicious looking. The waiters started us off with a basket of bread and a small dish of olive oil/vinegar mix. Throughout the dinner, they would bring out another basket of bread every time you run out.
For the appetizer, the waiter recommended a Spread Pilikia, which offers a choice of three spreads out of their six.
We selected the Htipiti (marinated roasted red peppers, feta, thyme), Tzatziki (yogurt with diced cucumbers and dill), and Hommus (puree of chickpeas, garlic and tahini). The Htipiti was very delicious. The Tzatziki was very refreshing. The combination of yogurt and cucumbers is awesome. The Hommus was simple but very tasty. I’m a fan of plain and simple hummus that is naturally savory. These spreads go perfect with their delicious bread.
Now, for the rest of the dinner… Between the three of us, we decided to order seven delectable dishes to share.
Here are the first three dishes that they brought out.
Lebanese style beef tartar ground to order, bulgar wheat, radish, mint
beef and wheat fritters, almonds, pine nuts, currants, labneh
Spice-rubbed lamb kebab, tabouleh, tahini sauce
I was very curious about the Kibbeh Nayeh and the Kibbeh. The raw meat in the Kibbeh Nayeh was a little bit intimidating at first, but then I remembered, beef tartare can be so delicious when it’s seasoned very well. There is always that disclaimer to keep in mind about eating raw meats, but we were feeling adventurous that evening. It was so delicious. The seasoning and flavors were superb. The Kibbeh came with a dollop of labneh (strained yogurt) and was also very appetizing. I love the taste of almonds, pine nuts, and currants.
Here are the other dishes we ordered:
grilled chicken, sumac onions, grilled tomatoes, garlic tuom
(Pictured in the top right of the photo above)
Syrian lamb and beef sausage, tomato, pepper stew
skewered ground lamb, house made harissa, grilled tomatoes, sumac, onions
saffron rice, dates, pistachios
For dessert, we ordered the Turkish Delight.
walnut ice cream with Skotidakis Farm goat’s milk yogurt mousse, honey gelee, orange-caramel sauce and caramelized pine nuts
I really enjoyed the food there. The Kibeh Nayeh was very tasty. It was my second time eating seasoned raw beef and it was delectable. The skewed and grill meats were delicious and super flavorful. The Ottoman Pilar was amazing. Pretty much anything with saffron is usually amazing. Saffron gives a distinct and exotic flavor and aroma to the rice that’s a little hard to describe. It also gives a little yellowish orange color to the dish. The Turkish Delight was the perfect dessert for concluding dinner. The walnut ice cream was lightly sweet and had a nice nutty flavor. The yogurt mousse, honey gelee, orange-caramel sauce, and caramelized pine nuts added a little more sweetness and crunch to the ice cream.
I didn’t order any wines, but my fellow diners did. The waiter had recommended a few Greek wines and they seemed to really enjoy it. The wine list had an extensive selection of Greek wines along with a few other wines.
My dining experience at Zaytinya was very pleasing. The waiter was very helpful with explaining the menu to us and giving us recommendations. Even though each plate was at least $8, I did like the mezze dishes since it enabled us to sample so many dishes. The portions were small but fairly reasonable. The small plates filled us up nicely with the multiple baskets of fluffy delectable bread. We were totally full and satisfied by the end of our meal. It’s a good place to go with a group. It works well to order several dishes and share it among a group. Our meal was about $30 for each person, not including beverages. This place can be a bit pricey, but I would definitely like to return to try more of their dishes when I have the money to spend. It would be interesting to dine at Zaytinya if I’m ever in the area for the Washington DC Restaurant Week.