Monday, September 3, 2012

Zaytinya (Washington D.C.)

Jose Andres owns several restaurants in Washington D.C. Unlike many other chefs that do this sort of thing in the big city... Jose Andres cooks several different kinds of cuisine. Despite being an alumni of el Bulli, his highest ranked restaurant was Mediterranean: Zaytinya.

Overall this was a great restaurant. Probably the most coherent one that we went to in Washington D.C. But there were a lot of little problems...

We followed the sleepiest host in the world to this balcony in the back of the restaurant. It was an amazing open space. I loved that there were also tables on the wings like a theater.

We were served some hilariously puffy bread. They kept rotating new bread in as the previous basket cooled and collapsed! We had the bread with some nice delicious olive oil with a zigzag of vinegar on the bottom. Did they make a "Z" on purpose??

Zucchini and cheese pancakes. Now this restaurant does display prominently everywhere that it's mezze or like tapas, it's all small plates. But the pictures on yelp did not really put "small" into perspective. If you can't tell by the random items that I included in the picture... they were small. (but don't worry 3 of these plates per person's plenty of food!)

The pancakes themselves were excellent! I wish I could cut through them more easily, but the inside was soft and the outside had a nice crunch just the way I like them.

Octopus. Because the octopus that we had the day before was a little disappointing. The waiter told me that "the octopus is a little more tender than [I am] used to." Famous last words.

The octopus was indeed incredibly tender, and it was some of the most tender octopus that I've ever had. But unlike the many octopi that were just as tender, this octopus was distinctly missing the char on the outside. That was a problem for me. The char was half the fun! My bf pointed out that he preferred the gummy octopus we had the day before, but I wouldn't go that far.

Flat bread (pide) with sausage and 63 degree egg. The sausage was amazing. I haven't had such nice sausage since Spain (though I don't order sausage that often). The egg... if it was carefully cooked at 63 degrees, why would you scramble it? It was a travesty. I loved loved loved this dish, but the name of the dish with the "63 degree egg" made me want to cry.

At this juncture I would like to point out that we ordered some wine that was much stronger than we thought, and this meal ended up being very emotional at the beginning and fell apart into hysterics.

English peas. My bf didn't read all the ingredients. Turned out that he hates the yogurt sauce. They turned out to be very delicious in that puffy pita bread.

Their lamb special was a lamb beef wellington! It was good.

Lamb bahar seems to be one of their more popular dishes. The mint on the bottom was a great addition to the dish. The lamb itself could have been seasoned better before being grilled.

If you eat at Zaytinya, you must save room for the dessert.

Turkish coffee chocolate cake. It was a very dense and good cake, but the whipped cream is where the magic is. I believe it was the honey on top and the roasted sesame seeds that made the cream taste distinctly Mediterranean. It made the whole dish.

If you order one dish here, let it be the turkish delight ice cream. I don't know how they did it. But the ice cream tasted like the floury soft part of the famous dessert. Coupled with the cream, the gelee that tasted like a really sweet condensed turkish delight, the cracker, and caramelized pine nuts (which they were kind enough to serve on the side), the dish was *spot on*. It tasted just like a turkish delight but more wonderful; more full of different textures; and more deconstructed - as if you could taste different facets through different ingredients. It was culinary cubism.

We had our meal with this Peloponnesian wine, which tasted very light "with hints of almond and mint." but turned out to be rather... affecting. I blame this wine for the strange bird video that I posted on Facebook, my discombobulated memories of this dining experience, and my particularly aggressive response to the comment about the octopus.

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