For starters, I am not the biggest fan of small plates (tapas, mezze, dim sum--whatever you would like to call them). They are usually expensive and do not have a lot of food, not entirely conducive to large groups because sharing them results in someone else taking one bite and thus eating half of what you ordered. So you end up ordering about 8 rounds of food before you're full and confronted with a large bill. However, portion sizes aside, I will now move on to describing how incredibly delicious this entire meal at Zaytinya was.
The table started with some hummus, baba ghannouge and tabouleh. The two spreads were flavorful, thankfully not overly garlic, and went nicely with the warm flat bread. Normally, I'm not a big fan of tabouleh, but this particular dish was fantastic. The parsley was fresh and crisp, paired with a good amount of lemon vinegar dressing which cut the potentially overpowering flavor of the parsley. Another dish I'd recommend: the Patates Tiganites Me Yaourti (french fries). Oh yes, you might think, "Why should I order the french fries at a restaurant as fine as Zaytinya?" Because they're delicious and have caper salt, that's why.
Next up I had the sea scallops with the yogurt dill sauce. The scallops were cooked perfectly and the sauce was so phenomenally delicious that had I not been in public, I might have picked up the plate to lick it clean. I kid you not. So I did the next best thing of soaking it up with pita bread. I also tried the halibut with red pepper almond puree. While I didn't notice the almond flavor, the warm reddish-orange pepper puree on the white halibut with the bright green baby arugula made for an excellent presentation. Not to mention the thick piece of fish flaked ever-so easily under the fork. There was also one lamb dish, Hünkãr Beğendi I believe, that while I only had a bite of was so flavorful and tender. I apologize for the lack of pictures in this post, but I was far too busy savoring every single mouthful of food here.
Despite my initial complaints about small plates, after the appetizers and two seafood mezze, I was actually feeling kind of full, but still with room to spare for dessert. I'm sorry to say, but I don't remember the names of the dishes I sampled for dessert. I know one was the ice cream (walnut? I believe. Pictured first) and it had honey, although those little gelatinous honey cubes you can see there were kind of odd and not that tasty. The other was a chocolate cake (pictured second) that I only got to try a smidge of since it wasn't my dessert. Both were quite good, though for me it was the appetizers/entree mezze that really made the meal.
The presentation on each plate certainly stood out for me at Zaytinya. It is thoughtful and it shows. The service was on point as well. The downside? Well, yes, Zaytinya is on the expensive side. And as I said, this can be irksome when you feel like you've eaten nothing but tiny plates and the check is certainly not tiny. But for a celebrating a nice occasion or treating yourself or someone else, it's the right restaurant to go to. The restaurant is the creation of José Andrés, so in other words: it lives up to it's hype and reputation. I would venture to say it is one of the best restaurants that I have been fortunate to have dined in in Washington, DC.
Take a bite: www.bonappetitfoodie.com.