Zatinya - still good?
- Mari Jul 1, 2009 10:01 AM
I'll be in DC this weekend and have a reservation at Zatinya for lunch on Sunday. I haven't been there since it first opened (2004-ish) and am starting to worry that it might have slipped since then. Does anyone have an update? I didn't see many recent comments using the search function, although a few seem to think it's overrated. I am interested in Zatinya because of the pan-Mediterranean menu (Turkish, Greek, Lebanese). Is the food still solid? The review in the Washington Post is old - 2006.
I went a few months ago. First time for me and...it's not worth the money, imho. I went with my sister, so maybe it's better with a bigger group or something. I've had better hummus and middle eastern sides at "lower-end" places, and the lamb dish we got was disappointing, at best. I heard it used to be tons better, but for the serving and the price, I say check out someplace else (Lebanese Taverna?).
I went on Saturday and had a very good experience. We had:
Dip Trio (Tzatziki, Labneh, Htilpili (sp?))- Excellent, each person had their favorite, mine was the Htipili (roasted red pepper, feta ...)
Crab Cakes- Yummy, especially with the sauce
Squash Blossoms - stuffed with vegetables and cheese, then fried, I loved them
Bean Salad- Great flavors
Two lamb dishes - I do not like the taste of lamb, so I cannot comment personally but my companions loved them
Red Mullett - The dud, could not taste the fish for the batter
Shrimp - sauteed, very yummy
Desserts - uniformly good, personally loved the labneh sorbet
It was a really good and fun experience. (Was less than $30 per person at the end)
Mari, you used a very interesting word in your question - "solid". I guess it really depends upon three subjective elements - appetite, budget, and culinary expectation. I think Zatinya is great - as long as someone else is paying. (I end up going there about 3-5 times a year, on someone else's dime.) The flavors are definitely interesting and the preparation is exquisite. However, it will definitely leave some big eaters hungry. It will also leave simpler eaters under-whelmed. (I'd never take a pre-teen there.)
If you've been there before and liked it, I'm sure you'll still be impressed.
I normally go every couple months, I think the last time we went was a few months ago. We took SIL who is a slightly picky eater, but getting better. I wasn't sure if she would like it, but I had taken her to Lebanese Taverna and she liked it. I thought it was just as good as before. I really like the zucchini dish, the flatbreads are forgettable though, also they have some great chicken and lamb dishes, and I like many of the seafood dishes too. The only thing I haven't been thrilled with was the flatbread because it was too normal. Yes you can go to the Lebanese Butcher for less, but I really like it. I am trying to think of more of the exact dishes we had: soujok spetzofi is good, the skirt steak, shish taouk, the morrocan tagine... I am sure there are others I just don't remember.
Zaytinya used to be one of my favorite places in DC. It no longer is. I can notice a change with every visit. The grilled octopus is usually overcooked, the short ribs are over seasoned, etc...
I think Jose Andres is too focused on his new LA eatery.