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Sitti-Raleigh, NC- One Person's Review

b
burgeoningfoodie Jun 29, 2009 08:20 AM

Given that my lady day and I enjoy Mediterranean food, had heard positive things about Sitti and had recently seen lots of people there around dinner time, we decided to check it out after a show on Saturday. I don't necessarily care about ambiance unless it is a part of the reason for going out (say a romantic dinner). The space for most diners is well spaced and evenly lit. I do enjoy the fact that those sat near the front of the house can people watch. I was tempted to explore the downstairs seating and courtyard, but was a bit too self conscious. I digress.

We started off with some mezzes both hot and cold. We shared a the Halloumi (sp?) which is a cheese dish with dates and onions. It was very good though the dates were sliced in a way that almost made them look like red onions. It reminded me of one of my favorite tapas. I ordered some Kibbee Miklee (there are 4). This was also very good though I'd never had it before in other places. The meal is accompanied by pitas which IMO were not the best nor representative of what Neo Monde can do. They were too light, too caked with flour and not left on the pan to darken long enough.

As main courses, she had Laban Bi Khiar and the Beef Shawarma. I had the Fatteh with Lamb. She enjoyed her Laban which tasted to me basically like a chunky Tsaziki sauce and the Shawarma which came with mini pitas and tahini. I wasn't quite sure what to expect from my dish. It looked nice. The lamb is four chunks in the middle with the rice undertneath and a yogurt "dressing" drizzled on top. There was a lot of liquid in the bottom of the dish which caused the 4 "crispy" phyllo chips to be soggy. I don't even know what the point of the phyllo in this dish was as it didn't provide anything to it. I was not sure if the lamb was meant to be cut up as the pieces weren't terribly huge, but weren't terribly small either. I would say they were the same size as a piece on a kebob.

The lamb was cooked well and tasted fine. My complaint about the dish outside of the mystery of the phyllo is that it all tasted the same. The only flavors we had were either lemon or yogurt. The Laban had the hint of cucumber that tzaziki has, but not much else. I could taste the lamb when I ate it, but due to its surroundings was also flavored with lemon which was overwhelming. I did not have any of the shawarma by itself and can not attest to that.

Based on our first visit we will be back to at least try other dishes. We both agreed that the mezze that we had initially were better than the dishes we ordered for entrees. We also both agreed that we liked the space and that we've had much better Mediterranean food elsewhere in the triangle. In conclusion and only based on a one time visit, I would say that the restaurant is okay. Not super but not horrible. It does provide something other than gyros and falafel and thus offers a different type of experience. It's proximity to Moore's Square and roughly 5-7 blocks from the Progress Energy center make it an ideal spot for someone who wants something different and doesn't want pub food.

  1. lawyerlady Jun 30, 2009 01:11 PM

    i appreciate your experience. i ate at sitti twice and enjoyed it both times. however, i understand what you are saying. a few months ago, i ate at zaytinya in DC and that was superb. talk about an experience where all the food had such unique flavors and was so well-prepared. if you are ever in DC, you should try it. i think sitti is a welcome addition to the downtown raleigh area. the food is good and the decor and atmosphere are contemporary and sophisticated. however, it hasn't reached the pinnacle...zaytinya has, so if you get a chance, try it!

    -----
    Zaytinya
    701 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

    7 Replies
    1. re: lawyerlady
      b
      burgeoningfoodie Jun 30, 2009 01:31 PM

      Funny you mention that. I'll be in DC in the near future. I've read about Zatinya. I hear Komi (I think) also does med.. but is high end. A restaurant called Anthos in NY does Med. inspired foods. I was however just referring to Triangle. Again I wasn't saying the food was horrible at Sitti just that it all tasted too strongly of lemon or yogurt.

      1. re: burgeoningfoodie
        d
        dinersaurus Jul 1, 2009 07:43 AM

        Zaytinya is really good, but it's different than your typical Eastern med restaurant. It's one of Jose Andres's restaurants so the focus is on small plates and inventive pairings. HIghly recommended. Komi is cutting edge and after a recent meal here, it really defies categorization. The chef, Jonny Monis (sic?) is Greek but he pulls from a variety of influences. For example, his "Caesar salad" is a single crouton, maybe an inch wide with a warm liquid puree of lettuce, anchovy, and parmesan (I'm guessing - it tasted like a Caesar salad anyway).

        Btw, I really wasn't trying to give you a hard time above. I've yet to explore a lot of the Raleigh/Durham area's Eastern Med places and I'm anxious to try more.

        1. re: dinersaurus
          b
          burgeoningfoodie Jul 1, 2009 09:06 AM

          I'm somewhat familiar with Jose Andres. One of my favorite places from the last time I was in DC (around 2005) is Jaleo. Though it was hectic and loud, I hadn't experienced a true Tapas concept before then and when I look at the menus for "tapas" here, they just seem to pale in comparison to the variety. At one point, Tasca Brava seemed to offer a good mix, but since they moved I think their offerings have diminished. I'm still trying to figure out what the difference is in a tapas and a small plate.

          I think DC and the Triangle are a lot a like as far as the food landscape goes (proximity and award winning chefs aside). It varies a lot and you can find a least one shining example of some cuisine if you look hard enough. Converse to that, there are still some major niches to be filled, but some of that is going to be restricted by the amount people are willing to spend on any certain type of food.

          I mean there are places I'm still wanting to go to here, but some of them my gf won't eat at because she doesn't like the food and well I'm not going to go by myself. The other issue is that most people I would eat with don't want to go 30 mins to go eat and thats it. This is another good reason for a light rail in this area :-p

          I don't know too much about Easter Med places in the area.

          1. re: burgeoningfoodie
            d
            dinersaurus Jul 1, 2009 10:27 AM

            No difference. Tapas are simply little plates or bites that originated in Spanish bars. Andres is often credited for popularizing tapas in the U.S. He now has a show on PBS. I got to meet him once. Very nice guy and totally ADD. The boisterous atmosphere at his places reflect his personality. He's big on food being fun and enjoyable, not stuffy.

            I've only had one trip to Tasca Brava but I thought it was good. Although, their tapas are very pricey compared to Jaleo, so it's hard to sample many without spending a lot, which seems to go agains the whole point of tapas. Red Room advertises tapas, but only a couple of their dishes are remotely Spanish. As far as I can tell, Tasca Brava is the only spot for Spanish tapas within a 100 miles.

            1. re: dinersaurus
              b
              burgeoningfoodie Jul 1, 2009 11:05 AM

              Thats what I thought but you keep reading stuff like Humble Pie and Zely and Ritz have tapas. Though I think one of them started using the term small plates. I just wasn't sure why the difference unless one has to be Spanish/Latin-American to be a tapa... that or too many people thought they heard topless and not tapas. :-p

          2. re: dinersaurus
            b
            burgeoningfoodie Jul 1, 2009 10:18 AM

            Speaking of Eastern Med. I just saw this in the N&O today... Don't know much about it.

            Party in a Pita http://www.partyinapita.com/

            1. re: dinersaurus
              b
              burgeoningfoodie Jul 3, 2009 09:11 AM

              http://www.newsobserver.com/105/story/1591507.html A review of a place I've not heard of called Unaabi Grill in Cary.

              http://www.newsobserver.com/105/story...

        2. d
          dinersaurus Jun 30, 2009 07:39 AM

          You say that you've had much better Med food in the area. Where? I would like to know... especially for Eastern Med. I've really enjoyed my trips to Sitti, so I'm anxious to try others. Thx.

          6 Replies
          1. re: dinersaurus
            r
            RaleighHound Jun 30, 2009 10:59 AM

            We love Sitti. I do agree that mezze dishes are better than the entrees. Try Alladian's in North Raleigh as well. It is great.

            1. re: dinersaurus
              b
              burgeoningfoodie Jun 30, 2009 11:01 AM

              Let me first state that this is not to bring about contention, but was merely what my one and only experience has been. In that light and based on what I had intended the original post to be, I may have mispoke when I said we've had much better Mediterranean food since we HAD only been to Sitti this once. My gf enjoyed her dishes as did I. There were just nit picky things which I think would make it better. One of those being that the dishes (outside of the mezze we had) not taste overly similar. Also, like any restaurant/diner intereaction this could have been a matter of poor food selection our parts and maybe the hype played a bit into our expectations. We do want to go back and it is thankfully something different from the surrounding downtown establishments.

              You are right in noting that most Med. places cater more towards some form of Greek staples (Gyros, Souvlaki, and the like) and with that in mind the places that offer Eastern Med. may be slightly less in number Neo Monde, Med. Deli (which goes either way), Sitti.

              We both really enjoy the food we get from Mediterranean Deli in Chapel Hill and have the opportunity to dine once at Papas Grille which is essentially high end greek (though I love the Octopus). If you dine at any of these places with someone who is from or has been to Israel and that region, they'll swear that you can't do it as well as those countries.

              Maybe I should put this question to the board. What Med dishes do you like that you've not found in the Triangle?

              1. re: burgeoningfoodie
                r
                rockycat Jun 30, 2009 11:51 AM

                Kubbeh! (Not kibbeh - they're different) And many other Persian-Jewish specialties.

                1. re: rockycat
                  b
                  burgeoningfoodie Jun 30, 2009 01:28 PM

                  What is the difference in Kubbeh and Kibbeh? Most sites list them as the same thing with the exception that some Kubbeh recipes use them as dumplings in soup.

                  1. re: burgeoningfoodie
                    r
                    rockycat Jul 1, 2009 06:33 AM

                    It's largely a regional thing. I grew up near a large Syrian community where kibbeh could refer to a bulgur and raw beef dish. Kibbeh tends to have a lot of variations from country to country. Kubbeh is just another variation and my favorites are the Persian Kubbeh Selek (a beautifully pinkish-red beet-based soup) and Kubbeh Hamoutza (a greenish sour version). As far as I'm concerned, you can call it whichever you like as long as I don't get any raw meat in it!

                    1. re: rockycat
                      b
                      burgeoningfoodie Jul 1, 2009 08:57 AM

                      I would like to expand my palate and since I haven't left this rock we call North America. Eating is a sense of travel for me. Glad to get some wisdom from you rockycat. I had seen Kibbe (any any variation on the spelling) in several of the Med. places around but wasn't sure what to expect. I figured may as well try it at Sitti.

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