Well, that time of year came and went: the day I celebrate the slow march to the grave by saying ‘pshaw’ to the bill and enjoy fine dining at one of the District’s upscale restaurants: Zaytinya. This year, Ms. Classy, myself, and a dear friend from north of the border enjoyed a fine meal at Zaytinya. Even though we felt free to order whatever appealed to us, I’ll give you a breakdown of what we ordered and what selections I would pick again if I had to be more budget conscious. Before I begin critiquing the food, I want to say that everything on the menu is good. The only reason I picked one selection over another is purely personal taste preference.
So let’s begin. If you are a Level 10 cheapskate, for an appetizer you will be satisfied with the complimentary puffed pita bread dipped in olive oil with a pomegranate reduction. If you are on a date and are not ready to expose the extent of your tightwadiness, spring for a spread instead of salads. A single spread is easily sharable and can be used with the aforementioned free pita bread. We ordered the baba ghannouge and the tzatziki. Ms. Classy couldn’t decide which she liked better and actually like to put a dollop of each on a bite of bread. I preferred the smoke flavored, lemon-garlic tang of the baba ghannouge over the ultra-creamy tzatziki. Again, not that one was ‘better’ than the other, just my personal preference.
Next, we chose selections from each mezze category. For a vegetable mezze, we chose the spanakopita, though several of the selections looked really tempted, we played it safe and ordered the spanakopita. When it arrived, it looked so appealing that we couldn’t wait for a quick snapshot before dividing this crispy, aromatic cylinder of goodness: yummy spinach and feta wrapped inside a crispy homemade phyllo shell. This is an easy crowd pleaser for people unwilling to try something outside of their comfort zones. Our other vegetable mezze selection was falafels. They’re small with a firm outside with the inside full of the best falafel flavor. Falafel fanatics will probably prefer this over the spanakopita. I can’t say one is a ‘better’ selection than the other, but since someone put a gun to my head and forced me to choose, I choose the spanakopita (I am a sucker for crispy phyllo).
Ms. Classy and I zeroed in and agreed upon the sea scallops for the seafood mezze. There is nothing in this category that can compete with scallops. They are on the pricey side of the seafood selections, but this is where you must splurge. These large, tasty morsels were perfectly seared on the outside and tender on the inside. Resist your initial urge to gulp them down whole and savor every bit by slicing one small bite at a time (this has the added bonus of actually looking sophisticated, too!).
For the meat mezze, we ordered the keftedes kapama. These are a mix of lamb and beef meatballs with feta cheese in an tomato sauce. I love feta, I loved the seasoning, but I’m not terribly fond of lamb. I like my meat nice and fatty and lamb is usually a little too lean for me. Lamb lovers will love these for sure – the seasoning is great, but I will try something else the next time I come around, which probably won't be for some time. Not that it wasn't a great meal, but I'm just cheap.
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