Wednesday, February 3, 2010

zaytinya

zaytinya
701 9th street NW (at G street), washington, DC 20001
tel: 202) 638-0800
hours: monday 11:30am-10pm, tuesday-thursday 11:30am-11:30pm, friday-saturday 11:30am-12am, sunday 11:30am-10pm
what was consumed: mezzes! crispy brussel afelia (brussel sprouts, coriander seed,barberries, garlic yogurt), piyaz (warm giant beans, kaleoven roasted tomato, garlic), bantijan bil laban (fried eggplant, roasted garlic-yogurt sauce), midyes (fried mussels, walnut tarator sauce), sea scallops (seared scallops, yogurt-dill sauce), kotopoulo youvetsi (chicken, orzo, tomato kefalograviera cheese) ... and mythos beer
do you watch top chef? i do. i love it. i've had top chef show-watching parties. i wanted to have a party just to have carla cater it. i've been to spike's hamburger joint. i can't wait to visit bryan voltaggio and volt (fredrick, md just seems so far. gotta suck it up!). going to zaytinya to visit mike isabella, then, seems pretty natural (i also had a mike isabella sighting - as i was waiting for the bus on my way home via gallery place/chinatown. sooo exciting! hahaha). so, when shar (friend) came in to town for an overnight trip from nyc and suggested zaytinya (a part of josé andrés' family of great restaurants), i was all for it. great suggestion, shar! i was also super excited about spending time with shar. nyc is so close, and yet so far away. excited to have great food and have shar time! yay~~~~
now shar, being the conscientious individual she is, tried to make reservations online to ensure that we would get a seat. unfortunately, the only reservations available were for less convenient times - a sign of popularity, i'm sure. no fear! i suggested that we should go in and see if there are any seats available, sans reservation. it was just the two of us, so it shouldn't be too big of an imposition, i'd imagined. i was also willing to wait. sitting at the bar is also always an option (and i love sitting at the bar!) lucky for us, we were seated right away. hooray!
we sat down and began to quickly look through the menu. zaytinya's menu is filled with mezzes. i.e., tapas. aka, small plates of utter deliciousness. i love tapas because you get bites of a number of dishes. shar and i looked through the menu and we each chose 3 mezzes (one of which (piyaz) was recommended by our server). while we waited for our mezzes, we enjoyed gooood conversation and the warm bread (what is that bread called?) dipped into an oil/sweet vinegar sauce. i will have to admit, though, that the bread was deceivingly filling. while it looked like puffed flatbread, we couldn't get enough of it! and then, dipped in various sauces, it was totally delicious.
we ordered a series of different mezzes. some vegetarian, two seafood, and one chicken. the brussel sprouts were super delicious (and probably my favorite, if i had to choose. but i'm biased - i looove brussel sprouts). the crispy-ness of the roasted brussel sprouts, with just enough garlic, on a delicious bed of yogurt. shar and i even said we could have probably each had a dish to ourselves. yummmmmm. the scallops were also nicely seared with some amazing flavor, not too fish-y. and i'm glad we took our server's recommendation with the piyaz because it was delicious! beans, kale, and other veggies in a broth that was a bit sour, a bit salty, all delicious. i'll have to say that we were not a fan of the chicken orzo dish. there was something ... missing. what was missing? we couldn't really put our finger on it. as a result, the tomato sauce pulling the dish together was far too sweet for our tastes. we were also really full from the other dishes and the bread, so maybe if we had had it first our impressions would be different? no matter. one last comment: there is a lot of dill on everything. dill in the sauce, dill as garnish, dill sprinkled on everything. i enjoy the flavor of dill (though not too much dill) and the combination of flavors that resulted was very very favorable. nonetheless, i thought i'd mention it here for the dill-haters (poo poo on you! haha).
next time i visit zaytinya, i want to try some of their lamb dishes (people have really enjoyed the lamb dishes). and maybe i'll get another mike isabella sighting - ha! can't wait!

Monday, February 1, 2010

dino

dino
3435 connecticut avenue NW (between ordway street & porter street), washington, DC 20008
tel: 202) 686-2966
hours: monday-thursday 6pm-9:30pm, friday 6pm-10:30pm, saturday 5:30pm-10:30pm, sunday 5:30pm-9:30pm
what was consumed: restaurant week!
what i ordered: antipasto della macelleria (pate & salumi - wild boar prosciutto & sausage, house-made wild boar pate (with rosemary, pine nuts & dried cherries), house made duck pate (with apricots, pistaccio & ginger), fegatini (duck liver crostini), house made ginger mostarda), insalata d’anatra (duck confit (house-cured leg & thigh, crispy skin), lemon caramel glaze, arugula salad, young fresh ginger mostarda), “flat iron” (vande rose flat iron steak, lemony anchovy salsa verde, tuscan roasted potatoes), budino di pane (warm bread pudding, vanilla gelato, whipped cream)
what others ordered (and i tasted - yum): insalata di barbabietole e agrumi (beet & citrus salad - a variety of colors of local organic beets, uncle matt’s organic florida citrus, mache, shredded ricotta salata (a firm aged style of ricotta), cracked black peppercorn, citrus vinaigrette, “silk road” spiced salt), scamorza (smoked mozzarella (from lioni in nyc), broiled, topped with oven roasted tomatoes, crostini), polpette di pesce (fish “meatballs” - ricotta, bread crumbs, herbs, onion, taurino’s salsa piccante), pappardelle al cinghiale (wild boar ragu - a light stew of cubes of wild boar, a touch of pork belly, crushed tomato, onions, golden raisins, currents, celery, carrots, red wine, herbs & spices, grana cheese, house-made ribbon pasta), gramignia con salsiccia (sausage sauce - house-made duroc pork & rose veal sausage, spicy greens, a bit of tomato, house-made curved pasta tubes), petto d’anatra (duck breast - dr. joe’s pekin duck raised for the succulent layer of fat under the skin, seared medium rare, crispy skin, dried cherry & amaro sauce, garlicky tuscan 4 bean & farro stew, chestnut, prosciutto & pancetta braised cabbage), arrosto d’orata (whole fish - venice’s favorite, the most prized of the bream family, rich, meaty, mild, head & tail on, grilled & finished in the oven, capers, lemon & spiced olio), pescespada selvaggio (hawaiian swordfish - sustainably caught, grilled, house made summer heirloom tomato sauce, kalamata, garlic & olio sauteed local organic spicy greens), "cappuccino" di nutella (nutella & mascarpone crema, bourbon soaked cherries, whipped cream, cocoa powder), tiramisu (lady fingers, mascarpone, frangelico & drumgray scotch cream liqueurs), gianduia “nico” (bittersweet chocolate gelato with chopped chocolate, hazelnut gelato with toasted hazelnuts, chocolate sauce & whipped cream)
whew. that's a lot of food.
so, the dc eating crew aka grub club rang in the new year with our first meal ... at dino! thanks again, jenny, for organizing!
while waiting for others to arrive, drinks were ordered. i was thinking that i should've sat at the bar because they have complimentary antipasti (but i didn't). i will have to next time, though - the olives looked really good. i ordered a rob roy. i thought that was the name of the drink that i like, but it turns out it's not. the rob roy was good, but my search for the name of the drink that i like continues! i should just go back to the bar where i had it before and ask the bartender. but i digress. as the rest of the party joined, we dove into the bread along with some really good wine. we then quickly proceeded to order our RW meals.
course 1. a series of super yummy starters. i ordered the pate (you know me and pate). i wish there was more fegatini and proscuitto because those were my favorite things in the collection. i probably would eat a whole plate of the fegatini and proscuitto. yay for salty and cured meats and pates (yes, despite all of the conversation i hear about how duck pate is made. sigh). the other pates were good, but maybe too complicated in their flavors for me. of course, that didn't prevent me from consuming the plate (haha). others ordered a number of super yummy dishes. citrus-y greens, mozerella flown in from italy (or so we were told), and fish balls! you can't go wrong.
course 2. the pasta course. except i didn't order pasta. duck confit was on the menu! and arugula! i couldn't resist. the duck confit was nicely prepared, crisp, with just the right amount of duck fat that oozed out when i cut into it and mixed in with the arugula salad. my friends were generous with their sharing - they are caring! the wild boar ragu, the sausage sauce ... delicious!
course 3. my main entree - steak. i was torn between the steak and a spare rib dish (which, i was told, was flavorful, but fatty ... which is probably why it was so flavorful - yum). the steak was nice and juicy, cooked medium rare. the steak came out a little more rare than i thought it would, but i still enjoyed the flavor of the beef. then again, i love steak in lots of different forms. the roasted potatoes that the steak came with, though, were a little over cooked. sadly. i love potatoes! but i couldn't finish these. alas. oh, and the steak dish also came with a green pureed sauce (the salsa verde) that i was sort of confused about. it had a good flavor, but i wasn't sure what the sauce was for. so the salsa verde stayed on the plate. though by this time, i was so full that i wasn't thinking too much of what was left over on my plate. the fried whole fish, though, was probably the best of the entrees (even better than the steak!). seasoned well, crisp, cooked just right. ahhh~ oh, and the conversation about eating fish eyeballs was definitely interesting. hahaha~
dessert. of the 7 of us, only one of us (jason) actually ordered dessert as a part of our RW meal. but, as you can see, there were quite a few other desserts that came with our meal. the gelato (cold, sweet and creamy, and delicious), the nutella creme (a sort of thick pudding, rich in chocolate/nutella-y flavor. just an espresso cup full would've been enough for all of us, but it was more the size of a cup of coffee. definetly for the chocolate lover~), the bread pudding (that came out warm! coupled with the ice cream, the bread pudding was delicious. quite a contrast from the other desserts that were chock full of chocolate and other sweets) ... but my favorite was tiramisu. light, moist, not too sweet. it was like a puff of delicious dessert once placed in my mouth. there is just no other way to describe it. and i normally don't eat a lot of sweets! we were comped these desserts (minus jason's tiramisu, of course) because 01) we were hit on the head by some other restaurant patrons who, on the 2nd floor, had file folders filled with papers. i don't think it was intentional, but it fell on our heads. well, not all of our heads. thanks for takin' one for the team! haha ... and 02) we (apparently) were given old menus, altering what we ordered. neither one of these things were a big deal, but we were comped nonetheless. that's the interpretation i got from what our server said. no matter - it was a generous act by the restaurant and we were happy to receive it! thanks!
the end of the meal also came with coffee and aperetifs (of which i chose limoncello - yum). others had grappo and that was really strong smelling. the limoncello, though on the sweet side, was what i call a great dessert! haha ... what a great way to end a ginormous meal! so full. i literally rolled home, thinking about the rest of the dino menu and what i would have the next time i visit. i hope it's soon!!