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Zaytinya, Mediterranean Tapas at 9th & G Streets - Chef Michael Costa Replaces Mike Isabella


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I'm starting a dedicated topic about Zaytinya because it doesn't appear to have one. It's on my mind right now, mostly because a friend is going there tonight and her pronunciation cracked me up. I have zero idea of I myself pronounce it right (Zay-TEE-nyah), however I am completely certain that she wasn't even close.

The number of variations I see on the spelling of the name also astounds me.

My most recent visit was two weeks ago for lunch. I find lunch to be a pleasant time to visit the place - less crowded, particularly in the bar area. That said, when my friend and I arrived and asked about a table for two, we received blank stares from the two hostesses (in spite of it being after 1 pm, and there being quite a few vacant two-tops scattered here and there). We took matters into our own hands and sat in the bar.

Service was prompt (until it was check time) and the food was very, very tasty. Although...as I am sitting here typing, I realize that our carrot fritters never did arrive. Hmm. We had the stewed lamb with eggplant puree, asparagus, chicken with orzo and tomato sauce, and hummus. My new-to-town friend, originally from Wales by way of NYC, was suitably impressed, particularly when the bill amounted to about $30 with tip.

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Kind of amazed that Zaytinya has had only 4 posts in the last year! I've been at least 5 times over the years and it's amazing how the quality of food consistently is high with some dishes being more

Zaytinya is better now under Michael Costa than it's ever been. It's gotten its fair share of praise from Sietsema and Kliman lately, which is reflected in Zaytinya's ranking in DCDiningGuide (the ra

My last full meal at Zaytinya was in September, 2011, so it has been nearly two years. That dinner was memorable for one thing only: some of the worst service I'd ever gotten in a restaurant (not *the

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I was there last week and I still remember how good those carrot fritters were. You definitely missed out. I am consistently impressed by Zaytinya, the food is always spot on and the olive oil ice cream is one of my alltime favorites.

Service has always been great as well, although on my last vist the waitress did not seem to be terrible pleased with her chosen profession.

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I agree that this restaurant is a bit more relaxing at lunch then dinner. The Carrot fritters are always a must, as well as the braised lamb with eggplant puree.

The last time I was there (last week of July) the service was actually a bit odd. Usually they are very quick to keep the bread coming, we waited for ages (even after delivery of our mezze that required bread for dipping. It did not come until we had asked 2 or 3 times. We also needed to fight off the bus-people, who try and take your plates away when we were still eating.

The warm chocolate cake is always a wonderful end to the meal, do save room for it. It has a spicy kick (cardamom and ginger?) that I love.

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Yep, I love the little bit of salt in that cake.

I wonder if I paid for those missing fritters...damn.

Stopped by Zaytinya (the bar, not the restaurant) for two on Saturday. Love that lemonous maximus.

I like the rhymes with Santana pronunciation. :P

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We went to Zaytinya for an early dinner on Sunday night. I've only been once, the summer it first opened a few years ago (deterred by the crowds), but my husband has been several times since. As a result, we ended up ordering most of his favorites, and had a great meal for about $40.

Because the website is too annoying, I will try to describe the dishes we had from memory:

The sauteed shrimp with cheese, onions and tomatoes. Great flavor, though I was initially skeptical of the shrimp and cheese combo.

The beef tartare (kibbeh nayeh) was excellent. I have always wanted to try beef tartare because I love raw food (sushi, really medium rare meat, etc), and this delivered. Excellent seasonings and tasted great with the onions that accompanied it.

The lamb with eggplant puree...loved it. The lamb was flavorful and not the least bit dry.

Roasted eggplant stuffed with tomatoes...this dish was a bit bland to me, and my least favorite as compared to the others. It wasn't bad, though

Squid with spinach and dill. This was also very good. the squid was very tender.

We passed on dessert since my husband only wanted the olive oil ice cream with figs, which apparently has been taken off the menu (well, the ice cream is still there, but no figs).

Service: I agree with the overeager busboys, a problem I have also encountered at Jaleo. do they not have enough plates back there that they need to get the used ones washed and back in circulation right away? When I see them coming, I quickly start eating from a dish they may be eyeing and they back off...

Overall, very pleasant dining experience!

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Just went to Zaytinya for the first time last night with a few friends. We were lucky enough to snag a table outside on such a beautiful night but I've got some mixed feelings on the restaurant.

First of all, service was pretty horrendous. Not sure if it applies overall to the restaurant or just to our server though. He was nice enough, but EXTREMELY unattentive. We had to ask multiple time for extra bread and more water (twice my water glass sat completely empty for upwards of 10 minutes). And after bringing us dessert menus, I'm sure we sat around for at least 15 minutes before he came to take our order. Luckily we weren't in any hurry and were enjoying chatting outside on a nice evening, but it's never fun to feel ignored (especially in a place like Zaytinya).

But other than that, I think we all enjoyed our food a lot. Some dishes were better for sharing than others. For a place that serves a tapas style, some dishes were very difficult to split. We started with 4 veggie mezze (unfortunately they were out of the carrot fritters). The "Lebanese Taverna style" Hommos was just ok in my book. Some spice in there wasn't my favorite. The Htipiti (marinated roasted red peppers with feta) was simple but tasty with the bread. Of our first course, the last two were my favorite. Kolokithokeftedes (zucchini-cheese patties with a caper-yogurt sauce) melted in my mouth and the Ottoman style roasted eggplant stuffed with onions and tomatoes was excellent...and I don't even normally like eggplant!

As our "second course" we went towards the meat and seafood dishes. I know their lamb dishes are supposed to be great, but none of us are big lamb fans so we instead opted for one of the specials, a crab spanakopita, which was great, but was only one small block of pastry that was difficult to split 4 ways and was a bit steep at $9.95 for such a small portion. A roasted chicken with onions, tomato and garlic sauce was good, but nothing different or interesting. The stuffed quail with Israeli couscous was also a tiny portion, but had a great flavor. But I think the shrimp with dill, shallots, mustard and lemon juice was probably the favorite of the table.

For dessert we opted to split the Turkish Coffee Chocolate and that was ridiculously good. Almost like one of those gooey warm fudge cakes with cardamom flavored ice cream that added something extra. We also had another milk chocolate cream dessert that was tasty. We were all intrigued by the olive oil ice cream so we ordered a scoop of that as well but none of us liked it very much. I think I'll stick to using it to dip my bread in!

All in all, I enjoyed my meal, but there are definitely some dishes that are a better value than others. Most of the vegetable mezze have a larger portion for the price and while the meat and seafood are tasty, they really are rather small.

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June 8, 5 PM. Demo at Penn Quarter Market. Chefs Jorge Chicas and Abdel Hashhoush will demonstrate Cretan dishes. Chef Abdel will also share his secrets for phyllo making.

June 9-11, 2:30 - 4 PM, Afternoon wine tastings at Zaytinya. Sample a variety of fine Cretan wines from Nostos winery. Free to the public.

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My wife and I were here recently for lunch. After seeing the newly re-opened Portrait Gallery and I forget the name of the other museum they share space with (building had been closed for 6-7 years for a renno), it was an easy choice to pop in here for a tasty bite.

We were a tad on the early side of lunch, maybe 11:45. Without a ressie we were seated immediately. We were a little disappointed that there were no specials available, being told by our wait person that this is only available during dinner. Bummer.

But we still had plenty to choose from. One of the standouts was the Garides Me Anitho, sauteed shrimp with dill, shallots, mustard and lemon juice. Wow. Perfectly prepared, I could have eaten 4 or 5 dishes of these all to myself and been very happy. The Skate Skordalia was pretty good. Beer-batter dipped and fried and served with 'Skordalia potato garlic sauce, this was an interesting way to serve up skate. Nice. The Piperyes was good, particularly for the olives. The roasted peppers were good, but not great. The HAvoc Koftesi is almost a standing order when we go here. These carrot, apricot and pine nut fritters with pistachio sauce are always good. We also had this very interesting beef-pasta dish that was very different for me. Tiny amounts of beef in what looked like tiny pipette pasta, the texture was new to me and the whole mess of stuff was covered in this yogurt and spice mixture, which is what made the dish for me. Very interesting dish. I can't remember the rest.

The water glasses were always full, we had enough bread for dipping and plate cleaning. Only minor wrinkles in service were waiting for the check and a brief delay when we were not ready when he was to take our order and it took just long enough for me to think it just a tad too long for him to reappear. But no biggie.

All in all nice. I'm happy to go back again anytime.

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"We also had this very interesting beef-pasta dish that was very different for me. Tiny amounts of beef in what looked like tiny pipette pasta, the texture was new to me and the whole mess of stuff was covered in this yogurt and spice mixture, which is what made the dish for me. "

I can't remember what the name for this dish is but I read an article about it once in Sauver. They are itsy bitsy ravioli type dumplings stuffed with lamb (in Greece or wherever they are from, I think the article was on something of that sort). But the interesting thing is that in this restaurant they were talking about the Chef has a crew of Grandma types who make these things by hand all day long!!! They just sit in the basement and make dumplings that he then boils, and serves with a spicy tomato sauce and a sumac yogurt. After reading the article I was dying to eat some but hadn't the faintest idea of where to score em. Good to know that they have them there.

As for other things I love about Zaytinya, those zuke/ cheese fritters, the grey cod roe, and everything everyone else mentioned, I however, will never eat the pizza thing with lamb and eggs ever again, It seemed like a good idea when I ordered it but it was dry to say the least, but all in all I love this place, esp for a lazy afternoon lunch nosh and wine....ummmm maybe monday.....

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My fiance and I go at least once a month and the service and bussing were fairly uneven the last couple of visits, but this last time, it was just stellar. We had fallen into a bit of an ordering rut, ordering some of my Greek favorites (I love the variations on taverna classics, like the Skate Skordalia and the Kolokithokeftedes). And I almost always order some type of taramasalata.

This last time, however, the service was spot on, all of our mezze came out nearly at the same time, and we also ordered out of our comfort zone, which was a great idea. Three standouts were the heirloom tomato salad (from the specials menu), the saganaki with mushrooms, and the soft shell crab (also from the specials menu). It doesn't hurt that kefalograviera and soft shell crabs are two of my favorite things in the world.

In any event, water glasses were full, plates were bussed in a timely but not pushy manner, and service was attentive. And, for once, the dining room wasn't too noisy. I really prefer that front dining room for that very reason.

I can't even remember what else we ordered, but I was disappointed not to order the octopus off the specials menu, as well as the Pipe Dreams goat cheese (they were out). There's no way we would have been able to finish all of it anyhow.

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My fiance and I go at least once a month and the service and bussing were fairly uneven the last couple of visits, but this last time, it was just stellar.

This last time, however, the service was spot on,

In any event, water glasses were full, plates were bussed in a timely but not pushy manner, and service was attentive.

Maybe the Proximo Group can work out some kind of a server exchange and rotation program with Oyamel, which can really use the help. :unsure:

It's been far too long since I've been to Zaytinya. Some very disappointing meals and service in the past. Probably time to check them out again. I'm a huge fan of Jaleo downtown, though, and have just never felt a reason to return to Zaytinya when Jaleo does such a good job. (Yes, I know the menu is different, but the overall concept is the same).

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I think the dumplings you both describe are manti.

That's it. Bingo.

And to whomever mentioned ordering outside of the comfort zone, I agree. Sometiumes we get stuck in a rut and then we go back to a place making sure to NOT order anything we have had before. That is usually easy enough to do, especially with specials available.

For the person who regretted not getting the octopus special, do you remember what the preparation is/was? I am on a quest to try every freaking octopus dish I can find to see if I can find one that is close or similar to the one I had in Bologna. I dream of that octopus.

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We always use the "close your eyes and point" method for at least one dish at Jaleo or Zaytinya, and the eventual choice has to be something we've never ordered before. It keeps us from ordering exactly the same thing every time, and occasionally we've come across a real gem (the rabbit with lentils at Zaytinya, and the quail with honey aioli at Jaleo).

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My first visit to Zaytinya was during lunch on Tuesday this week and its was wonderful. The space is very pretty and the booths are comfy - they even gave us big pillows (to nap on??). Anyways enough about decor, here's my take on the food.

There were 4 of us and we ordered way too much. When the waiter said 2-3 mezze a person, we ordered 12 and then added a few extra. Unless your ravenous, I'd recommend 1-2 person depending on which you order (some are larger and more filling than others). Here is what we got:

1. Hummus - it was ok - good, but nothing special. It comes with some nice olive oil in the center. (portion size - medium).

2. Htipi (roasted red peppers and feta) - this was a big hit. The peppers are diced and mixed with oil and seasonings and lots of crumbled feta. Recommended. (portion size - large).

3. Falafel with tahini (sesame) sauce - I was not a big fan. There are 4 or 5 bite size balls. Again like most of the dishes, nothing was really bad, just nothing special. (portion size - small)

4. Kokol...(it is a long, Greek name) - cheese patties with shredded zucchini and caper yogurt sauce. Very good. These are 4 small circles of heaven that melt in your mouth. (portion size - medium)

5.Spanakopita (feta and spinach in phyllo) - this was only ok in comparison to the other dishes. It is served as one long cylinder that you cut yourself to share. This dish is heavier than most of the others. (portion size - medium)

6.Havuc Koftesi (carrot, pinenut, and apricot fritters with psitachio sauce) - very good. 4 bite size pieces. I thought they were good and fun because they were unusual. The sauce complements the fritters very nicely. Recommended.. (portion size - small)

7. Puff Boregi - despite the interesting sounding menu description of puff pasty with a mix of cheeses and tomato puree. This is just pizza and tasty like a boring pizza. I'd pass on this one next time. (portion size - medium).

8. Horiatiki Salad - very good. A nice blend of chopped veggies, olives and small bits of feta cheese. (portion size - medium).

9. Tabouleh - so-so. This was the least popular dish at the table. It was bland and too heavy on the parsely with too small amounts of other ingredients to balance it out. (portion size - medium)

10. Sea Scallop with yogurt dill sauce - these were 2 large plump pieces. Pretty good, but I only had a bite as this was the last dish to come out because according to the waiter ("they were just so large it was taking really long to cook"). Strange comment as they were big, but not huge. The sauce was mild and let the seafood shine, so if you like scallops, you won't be disappointed. If you are expected something middle eastern-exotic, you might be let down. (portion size - medium).

11. Kalamari - This is the one dish I skipped, but they were greaseless, fried rings and the others thought they were very good. (portion size - large).

12. Chicken Muhammarah - 4 small bite size pieces of chicken kebab. This was great, mostly due to its tasty walnut and roasted pepper sauce. It is paired nicely with a tiny sweet, cooked onion. Highly recommend. (portion size - small)

13. Kibbeh (beef and wheat fritters) - there are 4 cone-like shaped pieces that resemble falafel, but have beef in them and when you bite into them you find the pine nuts and raisins. Really good, if a bit dry. However, they come with tangy labneh (thick yogurt sauce) that makes you hope your dining companions don't mind you taking seconds. (portion size - medium)

14. Hunkar Begendi - wondeful braised lamb shank that is falls apart as you scoop it up. The lamb with lots of flavorful juices sits on top of a heavy eggplant puree that tastes like a special version of mashed potatos. Very good dish and very filling. (portion size - large).

We also had ordered a mix of olives that were very good and came with a little bowl of olive oil which we weren't sure what to do with except dip our bread in (seemed strange to dip olives in it). Still yummy though. The pita bread is good too and is similar to Lebanese Taverna (puffed up). I'm partial to the flatter thicker kind of pita, but the bread was piping hot and tasty great with the mezze and with the small dish of olive oil and balsmic vinegar (the good syrupy kind).

This feast was topped off with a dark, cider-like peach juice that was refreshing and went well with the vegetarian and seafood dishes.

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This is not the "juicy gossip" referred to last week, but I've just heard a rumor that Proximo Restaurants has their sights set on three Los Angeles area hotel restaurants within the next couple of years, and that Jorge Chicas, head chef at Zaytinya, may be heading west. Also that Katsuya Fukushima - Chef de Cuisine at Cafe Atlantico and part of Promixo's "Delta Force" - may eventually be spending some time there also.

This is unsubstantiated, but the source was fairly credible, so if any journalists or bloggers want to investigate further...

Cheers,

Rocks.

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If Zatinya's kitchen had ever actually lived up to its reputation on the occasions I visited it, I might be concerned. My memories are of fine bar food -- but no more -- in a Greeked-up airplane hangar. I'm sure the chef can do better somewhere else and the his replacement can do just as well here.

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I've been to Zaytinya 3 times, each time it's gotten worse. It's sad because after the first time I really loved it. The second time was very good, but the most recent time was pretty disappointing. The meat came out overcooked. Maybe it was just a bad day. Some of my favorites:

Positives:

the bread - it comes out hot and it is delicious. they make sure there is always fresh bread on ur table. plus it's free!

hummus - i love their hummus, especially w/ their delicious bread

lamb kebab - ive gotten it 3 times. 1 time it was amazing, the 2nd time it was good, the last time it wasn't very good

spiced sirloin - my favorite dish there so far

scallops - two giant succulant scallops

koftededs - lamb and beef meat ball type things. really tasty

i can't remember the names of most of the other dishes

negatives:

there are some dishes i've gotten that i haven't been crazy about

the service there isn't the best

the quality of food has been up and down for me, but when it's good, it's really good

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Two friends and I went to Zaytinya Friday and sampled the restaurant's extended Restaurant Week promotion. For $30.07, each diner gets four meze plus dessert. That sounded like a lot of food to us (and it was) so we shared eight RW menu dishes plus an order of mussels and a 3-cheese plate. It was mostly hits and really only two misses.

Some of the dishes, like the always tasty hunkar begendi, I have had before, but I somehow missed out on the falafel on previous visits. Yum! When one of our later courses never arrived, we instead subbed another plate of falafel. My friends really liked the spice rubbed sirloin, but it didn't set my world on fire. The flavor was good, but the cut wasn't exceptionally tender. I'm not sure if the Turkish Delight dessert "wasn't to our taste" or if it was simply awful; the flavor was fine, but the texture, akin to curdled milk, was off-putting. On the other hand, the Greek yogurt with apricots was understatedly delicious.

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I don't know how I've never posted in this thread (guess I only talked about Zaytinya at the old place). Anyway, no matter what you feel about the food (which IMO is good-but-not-great, very useful for the area or for a jones but no more), the wine list at Zaytinya, which consists solely of Greek and Lebanese wines, is one of the most important lists in the city. The bar staff is very familiar with the wines, and on more than one occasion, a bartender has opened a wine from the list for me to try before I buy (because most are priced south of $60, it's not too hard for said bartender to sell it by the glass). When you think about the (mostly) drinking wasteland surrounding Zaytinya, the bar here is still a gem. At least when it's not 8:30 on peak nights :angry:.

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I think the food at Zaytinya has improved vastly with chef isabella in the kitchen. I never believed the hype equalled to the quality of the food, but a couple recent trips have me back to zaytinya. The Manti, kibbe nayeh, falafel and tzatziki are very good

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I don't know how I've never posted in this thread (guess I only talked about Zaytinya at the old place). Anyway, no matter what you feel about the food (which IMO is good-but-not-great, very useful for the area or for a jones but no more), the wine list at Zaytinya, which consists solely of Greek and Lebanese wines, is one of the most important lists in the city. The bar staff is very familiar with the wines, and on more than one occasion, a bartender has opened a wine from the list for me to try before I buy (because most are priced south of $60, it's not too hard for said bartender to sell it by the glass). When you think about the (mostly) drinking wasteland surrounding Zaytinya, the bar here is still a gem. At least when it's not 8:30 on peak nights :angry:.

Absolutely agree on the wine list, and the comfortable feel of the bar in general (assuming you can get a seat).

Baba Ghannouge ($6.50) was a competent version, the puffy bread at Zaytinya these days coming across as somewhat industrial and cranked-out despite being freshly made, the temperature and grill-marks subject to the whims of whichever basket-full you happen to be served. The Falafel "Abdel" ($6.50 for four balls) was lousy, as bad as Amsterdam Falafelshop, with thickly-breaded coating surrounding a granular-feeling inside, it was edible, but no more than that. Imam Bayildi ($5.95) was a hastily cooked Ottoman-style" (?) roasted eggplant stuffed with onions and tomatoes. Slapped onto a plate, it tasted better than it was presented, was struggling to keep its temperature, and seemed like it may have waiting on the other dishes before being served. Most interesting of all was the dramatic-sounding Patates Tiganites Me Yaourti "Aglaia Kremezi" ($4.95), which was a plate of french fries covered in yogurt. But these happened to be very good, unusual french fries, done in olive oil, and this is a dish that I would absolutely order again.

All this food, with two glasses of wine and two beers came to a mere $56.67. You don't hear me raving about the food, but once again, Zaytinya has shown itself as a fun, convivial place to eat, where you can nibble, nosh, and socialize without spending a fortune. A culinary temple it ain't, but in my past three visits it has delivered at its price point - I can't ask for any more than this.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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The Falafel "Abdel" ($6.50 for four balls) was lousy, as bad as Amsterdam Falafelshop, with thickly-breaded coating surrounding a granular-feeling inside, it was edible, but no more than that. ...

All this food, with two glasses of wine and two beers came to a mere $56.67. You don't hear me raving about the food, but once again, Zaytinya has shown itself as a fun, convivial place to eat, where you can nibble, nosh, and socialize without spending a fortune. A culinary temple it ain't, but in my past three visits it has delivered at its price point - I can't ask for any more than this.

Cheers,

Rocks.

I agree with you that Zaytinya's falafel not so hot, but I disagree about the comparison to Amsterdam Falafelshop. I've been to both many times and they are both pretty consistent - Z is blah while AF is SOOO good. Only one time out of 10 or so at AF was the falafel not great and that was when for some reason they didn't make it fresh, but rather served balls that had been sitting a bit. As long as they are making it fresh AF is spot on real middle eastern falafel (minus better pita).

I do wholeheartedly agree with your general assessment of Zaytinya - it is great fun, nice price (not cheap, but not break the bank), and certain dishes sing, while others fall flat.

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I agree with you that Zaytinya's falafel not so hot, but I disagree about the comparison to Amsterdam Falafelshop. I've been to both many times and they are both pretty consistent - Z is blah while AF is SOOO good. Only one time out of 10 or so at AF was the falafel not great and that was when for some reason they didn't make it fresh, but rather served balls that had been sitting a bit. As long as they are making it fresh AF is spot on real middle eastern falafel (minus better pita).

In Sudan, falafel isn't made to order, except in mid- or high-end restaurants. At your basic street stand, they make up a huge batch of usually donut-shaped fritters at around 10am, and they are served as is for the rest of the day. It is clearly the work of jinnis that they remain light, crisp, and flavorful even at 5pm (it's the work of the bloody awful climate that they're still warm). Here, they're also not generally served wrapped in pita, but stuffed inside a sort of large loaf, about the size of a small salad plate and an inch thick, along with pickled vegetables and some tzatziki-ish white sauce, which, after scores of tests, I've only been able to ascertain contains no cucumbers and seems thickened with a bit of potato; it's not tahini either.

And they cost 50 cents and are so big they could make for two meals.

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About $10 (plus tax and tip) will get you a massive chicken shawarma sandwich with a dish of garlic sauce, and a lemonatha, in a lovely space with cheerful and prompt service. The sandwich comes with your choice of sides; the side salad is a bright-tasting little tangle of chopped romaine with lemon juice and fresh dill, topped with little cubes of cheese. What a deal. The only slight drawback is the sauce, which is likely to leave you radioactive for the rest of the day. Not recommended if you have an afternoon meeting.

All that for little more than a large burrito with guac and a coke product at Chipotle. So why was I the only person at the bar yesterday?

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About $10 (plus tax and tip) will get you a massive chicken shawarma sandwich with a dish of garlic sauce, and a lemonatha, in a lovely space with cheerful and prompt service. The sandwich comes with your choice of sides; the side salad is a bright-tasting little tangle of chopped romaine with lemon juice and fresh dill, topped with little cubes of cheese. What a deal. The only slight drawback is the sauce, which is likely to leave you radioactive for the rest of the day. Not recommended if you have an afternoon meeting.

All that for little more than a large burrito with guac and a coke product at Chipotle. So why was I the only person at the bar yesterday?

The lunch sandwiches at Jose Andres' places are great deals. Jaleo and Oyamel also both serve sandwiches with a side for about the same price.
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If Zatinya's kitchen had ever actually lived up to its reputation on the occasions I visited it, I might be concerned. My memories are of fine bar food -- but no more -- in a Greeked-up airplane hangar. I'm sure the chef can do better somewhere else and the his replacement can do just as well here.

Same general observation here. My mom was born in a little village in northern Syria called Zwayteenya, and I always had high expectations for this place. But the fusion thingy always threw me off, with an occasional Greek or Israeli riff on a very Levantine dish on occasion. I learned to lower my expectations to good bar food with a hint of my mom's kitchen, nothing more.

I think the food at Zaytinya has improved vastly with chef isabella in the kitchen. I never believed the hype equalled to the quality of the food, but a couple recent trips have me back to zaytinya. The Manti, kibbe nayeh, falafel and tzatziki are very good

Ah, "kibbe nayeh" perked me up. Notice my moniker. I'm still looking for the area's best version of this elusive comfort food. When I find it, I'm throwing a party and you are all invited! Best served with a glass of Ch. Mousar, by the way....

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Same general observation here. My mom was born in a little village in northern Syria called Zwayteenya, and I always had high expectations for this place. But the fusion thingy always threw me off, with an occasional Greek or Israeli riff on a very Levantine dish on occasion. I learned to lower my expectations to good bar food with a hint of my mom's kitchen, nothing more.

Ah, "kibbe nayeh" perked me up. Notice my moniker. I'm still looking for the area's best version of this elusive comfort food. When I find it, I'm throwing a party and you are all invited! Best served with a glass of Ch. Mousar, by the way....

That would be Chateau Musar I believe. And maybe you'll find it right here......

http://www.zaytinya.com/documents/Musarinvite.pdf

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I'm still looking for the area's best version of this elusive comfort food. When I find it, I'm throwing a party and you are all invited! Best served with a glass of Ch. Mousar, by the way....

Well it used to be at the original Lebanese Taverna on Washington Blvd, but that was about five restaurant-openings ago.

A friend recently raved to me about the version at Neyla. Although it was the first time she had ever tried the dish, I trust her palate completely.

And Chateau Musar is the brettiest, most overrated wine in the Languedoc. :blink:

Cheers,

Rocks.

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But the fusion thingy always threw me off, with an occasional Greek or Israeli riff on a very Levantine dish on occasion. I learned to lower my expectations to good bar food with a hint of my mom's kitchen, nothing more.

I don't think Zaytinya or any of Jose Andres' restaurants are fusion at all. Yes Zaytinya serves dishes from Greece, Turkey, Lebanon and Israel, but the dishes are never fused. They try to be as traditional as possible, yes there may be a few modern renditions here and there but overall Zaytinya is pretty traditional food and just b/c the dish doesn't look like the one we are used to may mean that one dish has different variations depending on the country it comes from. I have seen 3 versions of Manti and I believe Zaytinya serves the Turkish version.

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About $10 (plus tax and tip) will get you a massive chicken shawarma sandwich with a dish of garlic sauce, and a lemonatha, in a lovely space with cheerful and prompt service. The sandwich comes with your choice of sides.

Werd. This is almost exactly what I had today, but the potatoes (basically french fries) with some tangy yogurt on top. Yum! I also tried the carrot, apricot and pistachio fritters with pistachio sauce. Maybe not as crisp as I expected, but still darned tasty. Dawn at the bar is AWESOME. She brought me the bread with the advisory to hurry up and get dipping into my remaining pistachio sauce. I also asked her which non-alcoholic drink to get. She actually recommended the lemonatha with some sour cherry juice mixed in (other options were peach and something I can't recall off the top of my head).

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We had dinner at Zaytinya before the Springsteen show last night. Despite all of my intentions to get there, I'd never been before. The meal and service were good overall, but I should have reread this thread before going, including Rocks' post above ;)

The falafel were dry, too dense, and the only plate we didn't finish. Later on in the night, it finally occurred to me that they were supposed to be served with tahini sauce :P. No wonder they were so dry. Looking at the menu on the website, I see a photo of them plated in a pool of tahini, with a garnish of sprouts on top. We got the garnish. We didn't get the pool. If there was any sauce with them at all (my husband thinks there was a tiny bit underneath), it wasn't remotely enough. Too bad it didn't occur to me at the time or I could have asked for more sauce.

We also had the fries with yogurt, which were excellent; the grilled pita with ground lamb and the couscous tagine, both of which were quite good; and the salmon balls, which were okay but not my personal favorite. I loved the pita in the bread basket. I probably ate more of them than was advisable. The olive oil for dipping had a flavor that I quite liked but can't quite describe.

When I saw how crowded it was, I felt less stupid about having made a reservation for dinner a month ago. They seemed to handle the crowd pretty well. Our server was attentive and helpful. I really wanted to order dessert but was too full. The chocolate cream with cherry sorbet and caramels was calling me and I had to fight it off :blink:. I didn't want to be overly stuffed for the concert.

I'd like to go back and I think I have a better sense of the menu now. Maybe I'll order dessert first next time :).

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The olive oil for dipping had a flavor that I quite liked but can't quite describe.
I had the same experience and I think there is an earlier post on this, but the flavor is pomegranate molasses mixed with the olive oil. It is a delicious combo.
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I had the same experience and I think there is an earlier post on this, but the flavor is pomegranate molasses mixed with the olive oil. It is a delicious combo.
Aha! Thanks. No wonder I couldn't identify it.
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Finally made it here last night prior to the Wizards game and I was curious to see how Greek and Levantine cuisine would be appropriated through the eyes of Jose Andres, who is clearly an admirer of the region.

First of all - and this is probably a peculiarity in my mind - is why one would give a Turkish name to a restaurant that clearly has a far stronger Greek influence, from the marble decor to the overwhelming number of Greek dishes. The only explanation that comes to mind is the fact that zaytinya, the Turkish world for olive oil (according to the website) is far more dramatic sounding than corresponding Greek word ladi.

Political and linguistic digressions aside, the thing that was ultimately clear was that the vegetable dishes we ordered were markedly better than the meat dishes. The htipiti, a roasted red pepper and Dodonis feta spread, was very lively and struck a great balance between the sweetness of the roasted peppers and the saltiness of the feta. Kolokithokeftedes, pan-fried zucchini and cheese patties, were quite good, with the chef opting to grate the zucchini rather than puree it, which I rather enjoyed. The dolmades yalatzi (note: this isn't the name on the menu, but this is what variation they are in Greece), the rice, pine nut, & raisin stuffed grape leaves were good, though not my favorite. They were good in that they were executed the way I like them, with the rice being cooked through and not too al dente as I find others tend to do, and the leaves themselves were tender. However, I vehemently disliked the presence of raisins in them. Dolmades yalatzi are better as a savory dish and the sweetness was...distracting, if that makes any sense.

The arni souvlaki was a flop. The meat was far too dry and chewy, and flavorwise, it wasn't even that impressive. All I could think was "wow, trayila", a word that sort of jokingly refers to the specific gamey taste of lamb. However, the cumin yogurt sauce that accompanies this dish was stellar, and I could envision this working with any number of dishes. The shish taouk chicken kabob, while tasty and including a number of interesting accompaniments, didn't blow minds and left us thinking that the vegetable dishes were light years ahead.

Overall, while I would probably support Cava for mezedes, I still enjoyed Zaytinya and it's a good deal especially before a Verizon event.

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WE had dinner there a few days ago after (finally) viewing the Turner exhibition at the National Gallery West Wing and to me Zaytinya remains one of DC's best values with excellent small plates and good service in a fun atmosphere. Everything tastes fresh and correctly seasoned.

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I lunched there with my mother-in-law last weekend, and I thought it had lost a step. We each had soup and split the hummus, lamb sausages with garlic, and the carrot/apricot fritters. Cauliflower soup was dull and appeared to be missing the preserved lemon garnish that would have lifted it out of blah. The hummus was just OK and the sausages had been cooked a little too long and were dry despite their bath of sauce. The fritters themselves were tasty but the pistachio sauce was flat.

Am I alone in thinking that "small plates" are almost never a good value? $5-9 for a few little bites adds up quickly.

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First of all - and this is probably a peculiarity in my mind - is why one would give a Turkish name to a restaurant that clearly has a far stronger Greek influence, from the marble decor to the overwhelming number of Greek dishes. The only explanation that comes to mind is the fact that zaytinya, the Turkish world for olive oil (according to the website) is far more dramatic sounding than corresponding Greek word ladi.

When they first opened in 2002, I told a colleague who was a correspondent for a Greek newspaper about this new Greek restaurant called Zaytinya. His reaction was totally grounded in political and cutural prejudices, and rather comical. I awkwardly explained that there were a few Turkish and Lebanese dishes, but mostly Greek food and Greek wines, but I'd lost him.

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When they first opened in 2002, I told a colleague who was a correspondent for a Greek newspaper about this new Greek restaurant called Zaytinya. His reaction was totally grounded in political and cutural prejudices, and rather comical. I awkwardly explained that there were a few Turkish and Lebanese dishes, but mostly Greek food and Greek wines, but I'd lost him.

Yeah, it's to be expected - but like I said, I'm guessing Jose Andres probably felt "Zaytinya" sounded more dramatic and marketable.

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A late Saturday brunch at Zaytinya -- lightly poached eggs with yogurt and sumac worked well, the rich yolks balancing the tartness of the yogurt. Avgolemeno was pleasant enough, but wouldn't stand up well next to Kostas' version at the Greek Deli (and what's with the shredded lettuce in the soup? I found that slightly off putting...) My wife had some very tasty merguez-like lamb sausages. Also, I don't think Zaytinya gets enough kudos for their bread -- piping hot, light as air, with a nice balance of crunch on one side and softness on the other...wonderful stuff, and in my mind comparing very favorably to the doughy home made pita at Komi.

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