Pardon the Punctuation...One place that is a must while in our nation's capital is Zaytinya by famed Spanish chef José Andrés. If you're in the mood for innovative cocktails and some Turkish, Lebanese, and or Greek cuisine, this is the place for you. I went there with a party of ten and we were blessed with an great server David who was able to handle some of the special dietary needs in our party. Zaytinya means "Olive Oil" in Turkish and they serve mezze which are small plates of food from the mediterranean regions of Turkey, Greece, and Lebanon. David did a stellar job of explaining the somewhat eclectic menu and for you glutards there is even an extensive gluten-free menu. I'll start with the libations I consumed.
1.Istanbul, Not Constantinople: Get this....Four Roses Yellow Bourbon, apricot eau-de-vie, Turkish apricot nectar, and apricot-raki air. Just a hint of bourbon that mad the flavors of the apricot shine.
2.Harissa Fizz: Silver tequila, house made harissa, ginger liqueur, lime juice, and lemon soda. This is one of the most creative drinks I've had and makes me think of a Turkish bloody mary. The harissa is kind of a hot pepper sauce and the lemon soda helps reduce the kick.
After these cocktails I was ready for my vegetable mezze plate. Brussels sprouts are one of my favorite greens on the planet and I will give any interpretation of them a try.
Crispy Brussels Afelia: brussels sprouts, coriander seed, barberries, and garlic yogurt. Wonderfully crunchy and the garlic yogurt was "holy shit" good.
My seafood mezze was the Octopus Santorini. Grilled Mediterranean octopus, marinated onions, capers, and yellow split pea puree. Octopus is one of the things that when it's on a menu I have to have it. This one was in the top 5 that I've ever had. The perfect amount of char and the puree complimented the tenderness of the tentacles with the capers adding some needed acidity. A must order if you go there.
My meat mezze was a slow cooked lamb shoulder wrapped in Phyllo dough with feta and tzatziki sauce. This was one of the dinner specials and was the highlight of the dinner. I could eat this damn thing with eggs every morning. There is no way to explain the flavors except to say that it's absolutely the best lamb dish I've ever had.
Finally for dessert I went with a trio of house made ice cream. The flavors were olive oil, baklava, and some other flavor I didn't like enough to remember. The olive oil ice cream was overpowered with lemon and not to my taste. Thank God for the Baklava ice cream which rescued dessert for me and saved the end of the meal. Tasted like vanilla ice cream with chunks of fresh baklava in it. I could eat it for days.
If in D.C. do not hesitate to make a reservation at Zaytinya and ask for David as a server. He will make it a dinner to remember.