We went to Zaytinya so long ago that we were really looking forward to having brunch at this Mediterranean tapas restaurant from Chef José Andrés. After our great experience at Jaleo, we were sure we would not be disappointed. And we were not. Meaning “olive oil” in Turkish, Zaytinya proposes a wide array of small plates with a large selection of vegetarian dishes.
It is a big place with impressive floor to ceiling windows that give a nice light and a sublime impression of space. In the back, is their open kitchen where the magic happens. Oh yes, it happens as you can see below:
I first ordered a Turkish coffee that was proposed without sugar (sade kahve), semi-sweet (orta şekerli) and sweet (tatlı). If you never had Turkish coffee, don’t be surprised that they ask you before if you need sugar and if there is no spoon: the sugar is added during the brewing process and you have to let the finely ground coffee fall to the bottom unless you like the taste of coffee grind... Taste wise, it has a slightly stronger taste than espresso and is not bitter.
We started the meal with two spreads that were served with their homemade pita that came hot and was fluffy. I should even add addictive.
The first spread was their labneh, a Lebanese strained yogurt with za’atar, that is a blend of herbs like sumac, thyme, oregano...
The second was the baba ganoush that is made with fire-roasted eggplant, tahini, lemon and garlic.
Both spreads were really good and tasted fresh. I thought there would be a bit less of it and I am glad we did not order their sampler that would have been too much considering the other dishes we ordered...
Next was the mushroom saganaki or seasonal mushrooms with sundried tomatoes and melted vlahotiri cheese. It came very hot and was quite decadent, the kitchen not being cheap on the quantity of cheese! Very earthy, it was quite comforting and very flavorful.
On my side, as I love oysters, I got the oysters saganaki that are 5 Rappahannock River 'Olde Salts' oysters roasted on the half shell with ouzo, tomato and feta. That was superb: the oysters were not roasted for a long time that can really damage their taste and the pairing with the tomato and feta was surprisingly working well together. Of course, the ouzo added a little plus that made the juice that sat on the shell even more precious...
The last entrée was the Knisa lamb chops that came with an incredible smell and a more sublime taste. Perfectly cooked, these 2 chops were amazing, juicy and deliciously fatty. They were served with a smoked yogurt tzatziki that counterbalanced well the strong taste of the lamb.
Last was dessert. I was expected baklava but unfortunately they did not have any. So, as Jodi was full, I ended up with their Greek yogurt and apricots that they smartly served in a small size (mezze). Very good, it was made with muscat soaked apricots, apricot sorbet, vanilla yogurt cream and pistachio powder.
A great was to finish a meal with something sweet and not heavy. We left Zaytinya full and glad we went back there. My only regret is that they do not have an outpost in NYC! Maybe one day...
Enjoy (I did)!
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Zaytinya - 701 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001